We spent a couple very interesting hours at NanLuoGuXiang in Beijing with the kids in tow. “Xiang” in English means a back alley. “Gu” means ancient. So as the name implies this is an old part of the Beijing city center. It has lots of the traditional architecture for families and kids to explore. This famous neighborhood has many narrow streets, known as hu-tong” in Chinese Mandarin.
NanLuoGuXiang is in the Dongcheng district of the city which is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Beijing, and is also one of the best preserved old neighborhoods in town, and the only preserved neighborhoods left from the Yuan Dynasty in all of China. It consists of one main road that goes from south to north for about 800 metres long. On both sides of this main street it branches off to many smaller streets.
Any time is a good time to visit here because it’s always bustling with people, both locals and tourists. You will find many younger locals hanging out here, although it was not hard to see many families with young kids and seniors spending the afternoon here either. It is quite a happening place.
The main street boasts an interesting mix of shops. From galleries, clothing stores, cafes, yogurt/dessert places and of course a number of souvenir/jewellery/accessories shops. Some stores are quite unique and carry hand-made craft and accessories that are perfect souvenir to bring home. What we loved most were all the specialty street snacks.
This is a good spot to hang out for a few hours for tourists, especially groups with young people or kids. It’s has lots of trendy little cultural craft stores. If you wish, you can spend an hour just going store by store to check them out. If you want to see what is truly authentic “old Beijing” culture, you should venture off a little to the side alleys on either side. You will find old buildings and architecture that are worth the extra walk.
Of course our family wouldn’t forgo the chance of sampling the street food here at NanLuoGuXiang. There’s a great selection of food from traditional to not so traditional (more western). Yogurt store at number 49 on the street is known as the best yogurt store in old Beijing. You can customize the dessert by adding mango or red beans on top. Their plum juice is quite popular too. You will usually find a line up at this store.
At number 108 of the main street you will find specialty pizza such as lamb skewer pizza and spicy chicken pizza.
Line up is also expected at churros with ice cream shop, which of course the kids loved. We just went down the main street picking up different street food as we went.
If you want something other than food or snacks, there’s also a cool T-shirt store featuring tricked-out images of everything from Mao Zedong to garden gnomes.
How to get here: Nanluoguxiang Station of Beijing Subway is located near the south entrance of the alley.
We had our hired driver drop us off at one end of the alley and pick us up at the other hand. We were really glad and found out hiring a car and driver is an excellent way to travel in Beijing. If it didn’t start to pour, our family would have stayed here longer. I think it’s super easy to spend over 2.5 hours here, especially if you venture off to the side streets.
Once you are done visiting Nanluoguxiang, these following attractions are close by and are logical next stops for you:
Forbidden City, Houhai Lake, Shichahai Lake, Gongwangfu Garden