Tour Beijing's Hutongs
Beijing History Expert and Journalist Ed Lanfranco
Hutongs are traditional alleys where communities live in close, neighborly proximity. Some dating back centuries, one can see the fine detail in architecture, stonework and woodwork which is not seen in modern buildings. Hutongs are an endangered species in Beijing and across China, with blocks of them being knocked down and residents moved to make way for modern skyscrapers, shopping centers and high rise apartments.
A stroll, bike ride or rickshaw trip through Beijing's hutongs will give you a glimpse of what life was like in China for thousands of years. You will find frequent public toilet blocks in the hutongs, as most of the residences do not have toilets. Vendors weave through the alleyways selling seasonal fruits and vegetables. Repairmen, knife sharpeners, pot fixers and other services not imagined in the west work the hutongs shouting out what they are offering.
Ed Lanfranco is a journalist and historian based in Beijing who has kindly narrated this Hutong tour.