We have been to the Hutongs several times now. It’s one of my husband’s favorite places to take pictures. The Hutongs are very interesting and differ for their uses. People still live in some sections. Some are Air B&Bs. Some have been turned into restaurants and shops. It’s a cool area to check out with a neat vibe.
History from Ben
We went to an area with a lot of “hutongs”, which are basically just old neighborhoods which showcase the way people used to live hundreds of years ago. They’re a collection of small streets and avenues filled with small shops, cafes, etc.
When we’ve gone to visit the Hutongs, we just walk around and see where we might end up. We’ve visited a few different temples, some shops, an outdoor museum dedicated to an artist from a long time ago, Houhai Park, and the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. If you have a chance to visit the area, walk around and see what you happen upon.
We’ve also gone to visit a local brewery, Great Leap, that has a location in the Hutongs. It’s a teeny-tiny place, but they have outdoor seating, which I’m sure will be cool in the warmer weather.
Take advantage and go see the sights (they’re all very affordable!).
Bell & Drum Towers
The Bell Tower and Drum Tower are located across from each other. To me, in a way, it reminded me when you climb up a lighthouse. There were a lot of steps and then some cool views. When we were at the top of the Drum Tower, all of a sudden, these people dressed up came out and became a drum demonstration. We later saw that they do this every hour, so we were just lucky that we hit it right.
During one of our outings to the Hutongs, we also went to the Lama Temple. My impression was that it was a little crowded and the incense burning was very strong. There were a lot of people there who came to pray. In many of the temples, you can walk inside some of the buildings where there are Buddhas. People leave money, fruit, etc. there.
After the Lama Temple, we happened upon the Confucius Temple. I definitely recommend looking for the Confucius Temple if you visit the Lama Temple. I actually preferred this temple because it was so quiet and peaceful.
The temple was along the water and Houhai Park was an interesting scene. We actually ended up in that area one night and that was very interesting. The music was blaring (full blast) from every karaoke bar. I guess they were trying to out do each other.
The area around the Hutongs and Tiananmen Square is so interesting to see. You could spend days exploring all the parks, temples, etc. that are in that area. We’ll be back to do more exploring there for sure!
TOTE: Visiting the Hutongs is a great way to get a good taste of China.