Also known as the South Gong and Drum Lane, Nanluoguxiang is one of the old hutongs in Beijing which is well-known for its long history, Hutong culture, specialty boutiques, and unique foods. It measures 768 meters in length and 8 meters in width. Its sound end is linked to Di’anmen Dong Daije and its north end is connected to Gulou Dong Dajie. On each side of this old alley are eight parallel hutongs. The main street, as well as its sixteen lanes, were included on the first list of the twenty-five historic and culturally protected areas in November of 1990 which was issued by the local Municipal Government. It is a very convenient place to reach since it is just located in the downtown.
History of Nanluoguxiang
Built about 800 years ago, Nanluoguxiang was constructed in the same period when the Yuan Dynasty’s capital, Dadu, was constructed. Its side hutongs were also built on the same year. Because of its one body and 16 mini streets on each side, locals also call it the Centipede Lane. It was also once called Luoguo Xiang or Humpback Lane during the Ming Dynasty but was renamed to Luogu Xiang or Gong and Drum Lane during the Qing Dynasty. This alley remains to be the most complete than the other cultural and historical heritage sites in Beijing, witnessing the variations of many dynasties.
Interesting Facts and Must-Sees
Should you want to see and experience an authentic courtyard, the South Gong and Drum Lane is the right place for you. This alley boasts the most complete lane of old-fashioned courtyard dwellings in Beijing. When you visit this place, you will certainly see the red lanterns hanging under the roof spaces. You will also find an obvious trace of ancient but prosperous Beijing in this alley. Here, the styles of architecture are totally different from that of the Forbidden City’s. Nanluoguxiang’s walls and roofs are gray that represents the folk culture in contrast to the imperial city’s grand red wall and gold roofs which depicts royalty. This lane is very close to the Forbidden City that’s why most of the royal families and officials lived in here. For instance, Wan Rong, China’s last empress had heir former residence in Mao’er Hutong. There are also historical celebrities who had their dwellings here such as Qi Baishi, a very popular artist for his traditional Chinese paintings.
Even though this is a historic place, the Nanluoguxiang’s culture is full of innovation. It welcomes its visitors with a combination of an old appearance and a mixed culture of China and the West. The specialty shops and boutiques here are very appealing to both locals and tourists. Located at No. 23 is Le Tian Tao She which is a pottery store where you can delight in sipping a cup of coffee while witnessing the potters do their craft. You can even try to create your own piece of pottery. A lot of people would go here to see the place’s creative culture and artistic environment. Art studios are also housed in this street where you can watch movies or TV drama programs. Today, there is a total of 115 varied shops in this lane where the owners and some shop assistants can speak English fluently.
The food offerings in the Nanluoguxiang are something that will also appeal to its guests. The popular dining hall at No. 108 sells delicious pizza and Nepal-style drinks. Located at No. 49 is a time-honored specialty yogurt shop called Wenyu Nai Lao. While at No. 114 is Yu Shi Ju Jin, a western restaurant that offers different delicacies from Russia, Italy, and India. Other than restaurants, there are also several bars in the South Gong and Drum Lane that are worth visiting like Plastered 8 and Guo Ke.
Nanluoguxiang Travel Tips
- If you’ll visit Nanluoguxiang, you should wear flat shoes or rubber shoes since you will be walking a lot. There are also some stores who offer a pair of slippers for souvenirs.
- This place has no parking lot and the best way to roam around is on foot or by bicycle. There are bicycles for rent in Houhai or Shichachai. A tandem bicycle would cost you CNY 20 per hours while a regular bicycle costs CNY 10 per hour. For each bicycle, a deposit amounting to CNY 500 is needed.
How to go to Nanluoguxiang
- You can go the Nanluoguxiang by taking the Sunway Line 6 or 8 and alight at Nanluoguxiang.
- If you prefer riding the bus, you can take bus 3, 13, 42, 60, 118, or 612 to go to Tongluoxiang. You can also try taking bus 701 and get off at Di’anmen Don or ride bus 104, 108, 113, or 612 to go to Bei Bingmasi.