Beijing Hutong courtyard neighborhoods

Beijing Hutong Beijing Beijing Region
Experience the feel of old Beijing while exploring the Beijing Hutong. For hundreds of years, the Hutong alleyways have been a central point of Beijing's traditional life, featuring the sight of charming courtyard dwellings, aroma of delicious eateries and sound of lively board games. Now visitors to the Hutongs can learn about life during former Chinese dynasties while enjoying fun rickshaw rides. Some of these areas are also becoming trendy neighborhoods. Whether socializing and sipping tea in a chic, Beijing traditional-style cafe or exploring these curved and narrow alleys on foot, by Pedicab or by bike, the Hutongs are sure to be an enjoyable adventure for any visitor travel to Beijing.

Oldest Neighborhoods in Beijing   

Hutong RickshawThe Hutongs are the oldest neighborhoods in Beijing. They first appeared in the thirteenth century in the Mongol's Yuan Dynasty, so they have more than 700 years of history!  At that time, people lived in these neighborhoods chatted with each other within a maze of narrow streets, which gave access to their courtyard.
The modernization of China's capital marked an increase in construction and the rise of many new buildings. The Hutongs then fall into oblivion and, without respecting the traditional Chinese architecture, started to be replaced by new, tall buildings. It was not until 2004 that the government officially noted how much of an important cultural and tourist attraction the Hutongs are. It, therefore, launched a new policy for protection, which prohibits the destruction of any Hutongs around the Forbidden City. There are now a dozen of these traditional Beijing Hutongs

Meaning of Hutong 

The Chinese word, "Hutong" comes from the Mongol language. In this language,"hot" means "city" and the word then gradually became "Hutong".
It is also said that the word comes from the Mandarin word,“huren”. In fact, "huren" are defined the race of Mongols who lived in Northern part and "tong" meaning “unification”. Therefore it would be the city that unified by “huren” named” Hutong”

Organization of Beijing  

Beijing HutongCommunity life was part of the Chinese culture, and still is even to this day. Cohabitation is very important in Chinese culture; thus, these courtyard houses consist of four buildings enclosing a courtyard. Each building could have a different family living in it. A great idea for building community and sharing space, right?! It even happened that some houses were built in the courtyard to welcome newcomers.
The city of Beijing is organized as a giant chessboard. The Hutongs are part of the continuity of this structure, given their favorable locations from east-west and north-south.

Showcase Beijing Daily Life 

Those Hutongs neighborhoods, which have not been destroyed, are mainly located north of the Forbidden City. The Shichahai neighborhood, for example, contains some of the best preserved Hutongs. The Hutongs are a showcase of Beijing daily life with a mix of old and new in a cosmopolitan area of today. Imagine typical hotels, restaurants and bars alongside Western shops, yet they are all near a park where the ancient practice of Tai chi is taking place.

Nanluoguxiang-Oldest Hutong  

Nanluoguxiang Hutong BeijingThe Nanluoguxiang Hutong is one of the oldest lanes of the capital and is a true witness of the Beijing daily life during these last 800 years. Today, the Hutong district keeps its traditional Chinese architecture but bars and shops are located in the middle of the ancient courtyard houses. So you can arrive at the entrance of a courtyard house in traditional town square and then walk only 20 meters away to have a drink on the terrace of a cafe. Nanluoguxiang is now becoming a trendy area for foreign and Chinese residents who are looking for a relaxing time after their workday.

Hutong Renovation 

Some of these Hutongs will make you smile at how they elegantly present a mix of the old and new. The courtyard houses, for example, were inhabited by famous Chinese writers and thinkers; however now, they are protected for their history. In addition, new renovations have taken place to equip them with modern facilities, such as water and electricity. These homes are becoming more modern and comfortable, as property prices increase. Due to investors, there are other Hutong areas where entire neighborhoods have been or will be converted into luxury hotels, restaurants, and/or other places for business. Be sure to double check for the traditional building if you decide to explore any of the completely renovated districts while enjoying time in the Hutong tours.

Rickshaw Fun in the Hutongs 

Exploration in the Hutongs, whether by rickshaw, bicycle or on foot, is an interesting way to discover the old Beijing and some of the traditional sights of the capital, such as the Palace of the Prince Gong.

  • Best time to visit

    Apr. May. Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. 
  • Altitude

    44M Altitude Beijing Hutong
Scroll to top
  • 11-day tour for first time travelers

    11-day tour for first time travelers

    11 days - from $1,198

  • 20-day Grand China Tour

    20-day Grand China Tour

    20 days - from $3,219

  • 14-day highlights of China with Yangtze Cruise

    14-day highlights of China with Yangtze Cruise

    14 days - from $1,826

  • 13-day Beijing, Xian,Shanghai and Hong Kong vacation

    13-day Beijing, Xian,Shanghai and Hong Kong vacation

    13 days - from $1,658

  • 9-day glimpse of Shanghai, Xian, Beijing

    9-day glimpse of Shanghai, Xian, Beijing

    9 days - from $855

  • 18-day classic China tour with Panda visit in Sichuan

    18-day classic China tour with Panda visit in Sichuan

    18 days - from $2,386

  • 13-day tour to Beijing, Luoyang, Chengde, Pingyao and Xian

    13-day tour to Beijing, Luoyang, Chengde, Pingyao and Xian

    13 days - from $1,611

  • 7-day Beijing tour by metro

    7-day Beijing tour by metro

    7 days - from $471

  • visit Prince Gong's Mansion

    Prince Gong's Mansion

  • visit Forbidden City

    Forbidden City

  • visit Jingshan Park

    Jingshan Park

  • visit National Grand Theatre

    National Grand Theatre

  • visit Panjiayuan Market

    Panjiayuan Market

  • visit Peking Opera

    Peking Opera

  • visit Liulichang

    Liulichang

  • visit Mutianyu Great Wall

    Mutianyu Great Wall

  • visit Ming Tombs

    Ming Tombs

  • visit Beijing Zoo

    Beijing Zoo

  • visit The 798 Art District

    The 798 Art District

  • visit Badaling Great Wall

    Badaling Great Wall

  • visit Temple of Heaven

    Temple of Heaven

  • visit The Summer Palace

    The Summer Palace

  • visit Yonghe Lama Temple

    Yonghe Lama Temple

  • visit Temple of Confucius

    Temple of Confucius

  • visit Bell Tower and Drum Tower

    Bell Tower and Drum Tower

  • visit Beijing Capital Museum

    Beijing Capital Museum

  • visit Jinshanling Great Wall

    Jinshanling Great Wall

  • visit Niujie Mosque

    Niujie Mosque

  • visit Old Summer Palace

    Old Summer Palace

  • visit Beihai Park

    Beihai Park

  • visit Wangfujing

    Wangfujing

  • visit Cuandixia

    Cuandixia

  • visit Sanlitun bar district

    Sanlitun bar district

  • visit Beijing Shopping Area

    Beijing Shopping Area

  • visit National Museum of China

    National Museum of China

  • visit Fangshan Geopark

    Fangshan Geopark

  • visit Simatai Great Wall

    Simatai Great Wall

  • visit Shichahai

    Shichahai

  • visit Beijing South Cathedral

    Beijing South Cathedral

  • visit Qianmen Street

    Qianmen Street

  • visit Silk Street

    Silk Street

  • visit Jiankou Great Wall

    Jiankou Great Wall

  • visit Zhuangdaokou Great Wall

    Zhuangdaokou Great Wall

  • visit Chinese Dumplings making

    Chinese Dumplings making