Visiting the hutongs was one of my favorite parts of my Beijing trip. The hutongs are narrow alleys found in between the traditional, siheyuan compounds that consist of houses around a central courtyard. The hutongs link all of these compounds and courtyards together, forming a wonderfully charming maze of winding lanes and alleys. Many Chinese people still live in these neighborhoods today, and the word hutong now refers to these historic neighborhoods.
Many of the hutongs have been designated by the government as historic landmarks, making them hot spots for tourists. If you stay on the main roads, you’ll find boutiques and small shops filled with cute trinkets, silk scarves, fun souvenirs, and small eats. If you take a peek into the alleyways though, you’ll get a true glimpse into the life of the hutong dwellers.