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Asia > East Asia > China > North China > Beijing > Beijing/Gulou

Beijing/Gulou

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Gulou is a part of Dongcheng District in Beijing, China. The name "Gulou" translates to Drum Tower, which is one of the main attractions here. Gulou is considered the most charming area in Beijing. It is home to lakes and hutongs around the Drum Tower and Houhai. It's a unique experience to visit old courtyard houses and mansions. At night the authentic local atmosphere of the hutongs makes for a pleasant backdrop for bar hopping and scavenger hunting to locate hard to find bars.

Get in[edit]

Gulou is bordered by subway line 2 on the north, 5 on the east, and (less exactly) 8 on the west and 6 on the south. This means that any spot in Gulou is at most 20 minutes from a subway stop.

See[edit]

Drum Tower, at sunset, from Bell Tower
  • 1 Drum and Bell Towers (钟鼓楼; Zhōnggǔlóu), Di'anmen Street (地安门大街; Dì'ānméndàjiē (200m N of Shichahai station on subway line 2, or accessible by bus 107 or 635 (from Dongzhimen)), +86 10 6401 2674. 9AM-5:00PM (ticket counter closes 4:40PM). The Drum Tower was built in 1272 and moved to a new location in 1800. The Bell Tower was built around 1700. Originally, the towers were used to play music and later on to tell Beijingers the time. Now they house a 63-ton ancient copper bell and a number of ancient/replica drums. Free guides start tours at specific times, and the Drum Tower also has performances every hour or so (usually around half-past). There are great views from the top of the towers, but be prepared to hike up the 60+ (very steep!) steps. Ignore the touts at the bottom who try to push off "hutong tours" in rickety tri-shaws. Drum tower: ¥20; Bell tower ¥15; Ticket for both ¥30; half-price for students. Gulou and Zhonglou (Q2741116) on Wikidata Gulou and Zhonglou (Beijing) on Wikipedia
  • 2 National Art Museum of China (中国美术馆, Zhōngguó Měishù Guǎn), 1 Wusi Street ( 五四大街1号 Wǔsì dàjiē) (N side of Wusi between Beiheyuan and Donghuamen streets; Line 8 subway station National Art Museum), +86 10 6403 4951, fax: +86 10 6406 9801, . 9AM-5PM. China's premier art museum with over 35,000sqm of exhibition space in 21 halls on four stories. Collection exhibits both ancient and contemporary work, with some Western art as well. Free, but only 4,000 tickets available until 4PM daily. National Art Museum of China (Q233705) on Wikidata National Art Museum of China on Wikipedia
  • 3 Mao Dun Former Residence (茅盾故居; Máodùn Gùjū), 13 Yuanensi Hutong (后圆恩寺胡同13号; Hòuyuánēnsì Hútòng) (1.5km southeast of Beixinqiao Metro Station (line 5), or buses 113, 755 to Jiaodaokou South Station (交道口南)), +86 10 6404 4089. 9AM-4PM. Mao Dun (1896-1981) was a famous revolutionary writer. His former residence including personal effects and writings can be seen here. ¥5.
  • 4 Dadu Museum of Art, No 28, Guozijan Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, +86 10-56937555. Opening Time 09:30 am - 17:30 pm ( After 16:00 No Entering and it's Closed in Mondays). Beijing Dadu Museum of Art, a high-profile institution in the public interest, was built with the strong support and assistance of the Beijing Culture & Art Foundation and China Oil Painting Society. The museum has opened to the public since 2013 after 04 years of construction. Covering an area of 11,000 square meters, the museum is located in Chenggxian Street in Beijing, a renowned historical and cultural area near Yonghegong Lama Temple and adjoining the Confucian Temple and Guozijianóthe former imperial college for ancient dynasties. Designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando, The Beijing Dadu Museum of Art building is itself a perfect work of art, emboyding a combination of Western modern design concept with Oriental classic aesthetic ideology. After its completion the museum will be a professional exhibition venue within Chinese oil paintig circles which will permanently shows its own collected paintings, in addition to holding themed exhibitions and mobile shows.“China Style - China Oil Painting Languge Research Exhibition” and “Character of Painting - 2013 Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition” were hold at the end of 2013 老人、军人、及残疾人士请携带相关证件,凭证件免票。 学生请携带学生证,购买学生票. Dadu Museum of Art (Q19852272) on Wikidata
  • 5 Confucius Temple (孔庙; Kǒngmiào), 13 Guozijian Street (国子监街13号; Guózǐjiànjiē) (500m southwest of Yonghegong Metro Station (lines 2 and 5)), +86 10 8402 7224. 9AM-6PM. The temple was built in 1302 and honors Confucius (孔子; Kǒngzi; 551-479 BC) who was one of China's greatest thinkers, still with significant influence on all aspects of daily life. The pavilions along either side have displays about Confucius and the history of Confucianism The courtyard is a pleasant place to relax or watch art students practice sketching. Open until 6pm in summer (May-October), 5pm in winter; last admittance 30 minutes before closing. ¥30 (2014), includes admission to Imperial Academy. Beijing Temple of Confucius (Q1064580) on Wikidata Beijing Temple of Confucius on Wikipedia
  • 6 Imperial Academy (国子监; Guózǐjiàn) (Immediately to west of Confucius Temple). 9AM-6PM. The academy was the highest level college and location of examinations for the civil service in Imperial China. Very much related to the neighbouring Confucius Temple in that the studies and exams were conducted in the Confucian tradition. Displays documenting the history of the imperial exams system and the lives of students. Pleasant courtyard, slightly quieter than that of the temple. Open until 6pm in summer (May-October), 5pm in winter; last admittance 30 minutes before closing. ¥30 (2014), includes admission to Confucius Temple. School for the Sons of the State (Q20791844) on Wikidata Guozijian on Wikipedia

Do[edit]

Hutongs[edit]

A hutong

Hutongs are the old neighbourhoods and alleyways of Beijing. While the inner districts still have hutong neighbourhoods (for now), Dongcheng's are among the most extensive and best preserved, and most enjoyable for wandering. Turn off any major thoroughfare in the northern half of the district, and you will find yourself in real, living neighbourhoods, filled with local residents, small shops and food stalls and markets. For a good introduction to the hutongs, the area between Bell Tower and Lama Temple is easy for exploration, as most of the lanes run east-west, making it quite easy to wander from Bell Tower to Lama Temple or vice-versa, which should take about half an hour. Nanluoguxiang is a wide north-south lane that runs almost 1 km, starting from Gulou Dong Dajie, a major road, to Nanluoguxiang subway station in the south. Despite the crowds and touristy renovation it is worth a visit for gift shopping, eating snacks, and drinking bubble tea. Here too you can easily branch off down the side alleys for a glimpse of the less restored and more authentic hutongs. If walking is not your thing, try a rickshaw tour. Rickshaws converge during the day in the square between Drum and Bell Towers. You can try your luck bargaining with the drivers, or there is a fixed-price ticket booth in northwest corner of the square, offering hutong rickshaw tours for ¥180.

Theater[edit]

  • 1 Beijing North Theater (北兵马司剧场; Běibīngmǎsījùchǎng), 67 Jiaodaokou South Street (交道口大街67号; Jiāodàokǒudàjiē) (SE corner of Dongwang Hutong intersection), +86 10 6406 0175.
  • 2 Beijing Seven-Color Light Children's Theater (北京七色光儿童剧院; Běijīngqīsèguāngértóngjùyuàn), 14 Ju'er Hutong, Jiaodaokou (交道口菊儿胡同14号; Jiāodàokǒujúérhútòng) (60m E of Nanluogoxiang intersrection), +86 10 8402 2285. As the name would suggest, shows for children
  • 3 Central Academy of Drama Theater (中央戏剧学院实验小剧场; Zhōngyāngxìjùxuéyuànshíyànxiǎojùchǎng), 39 Dongmianhua Hutong (东棉花胡同39号; Dōngmiánhuahútòng) (60m E of Nanluogoxiang), +86 10 8404 6174. Performances include both plays and dance. Central Academy of Drama Theater (Q26701465) on Wikidata
  • 4 Central Experimental Drama Theater (国家话剧院; Guójiāhuàjùyuàn), 45A Mao'er Hutong, Di'anmenwai Street (地安门外大街猫儿胡同45号; Dìānménwàidàjiēmāoérhútòng) (One block E of Di'anmen Outer St.), +86 10 6403 1009. Both Chinese and foreign plays and both classical and experimental.

Bicycling[edit]

  • 5 Natooke (Natooke), Fangjia Hutong 46, E105A 北京市东城区方家胡同46号,E105A, +86 10 8402 6925. Daily 10am-7pm. Bicycle shop for hire, purchases and upgrades owned by a champion bike acrobat.

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷; Nánluógǔxiàng; some partly translated signs say 'South Luogu Alley'). This restored hutong, just east of Drum Tower and Houhai, is lined with boutiques and small shops. Not the place for bargains, but this is where to come for unique and distinct gifts including T-shirts, pottery, jewellery, etc.
  • 2 NagQu (那曲), No.67 Wudaoying Hutong 东城区五道营胡同67号 (near the Lama Temple and Yonghegong Station exit D), +86 10 6403 3472. A small shop selling handcrafted bags, scarfs and pottery made with natural materials.

Eat[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Yilongzhai (伊隆斋), 地安门外大街帽儿胡同甲43号 (From Exit C of Shichahai subway station (Line 8) walk south for about 50 meters and turn left at Mao'er Hutong, then walk about 200 meters, Yilongzhai is on the left side), +86 10 64062511. A simple Hui eatery that is head and shoulders above similar Islamic restaurants in the area in terms of tastiness, serving favorite Islamic dishes like noodles in beef soup (lamian, 拉面), lamb kebabs (chuanr, 串儿), and delectable naan (nang, 馕).
  • Qingyu Yogurt (青玉酸奶), 豆角胡同46号 (From Exit C of Shichahai subway station (Line 8), walk south for about 50 meters and turn left on Mao'er Hutong, then walk about 200 meters and turn left at Doujiao Hutong, the shop is on the right). Creamy yak yogurt served on a cake or in a cup, from the Tibetan plateau province of Qinghai

Mid-range[edit]

Chinese food[edit]

  • 1 Mr Shi's Dumplings (老石饺子馆), 74 Baochao Hutong 宝钞胡同74号, +86 10-84050399. 10am-10pm. Mr. Shi’s Dumplings restaurant is different from other dumpling hot spots in Beijing, in that although it is good, it totally caters to foreigners.

Non-Chinese Food[edit]

  • 2 Vineyard Cafe, 31 Wudaoying Hutong (五道营胡同31号) (Close to Lama Temple: First alley south of and parallel to Second Ring Road). Great place for Western-style breakfast and brunch in a restored hutong home. Also great European/fusion dishes, including some vegetarian options. A good dessert choice is the chocolate brownie with ice cream.
  • 3 Xiao Xin's Cafe (小新的店), 103 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷103号) (NW corner of Mao'er Hutong intersection). One of the original cafes along this hutong, and now has many imitators. Great coffee and desserts, although the rest of the food is not particularly special.
  • 4 Pebbles Courtyard (卵石庭院), 74 Wudaoying Hutong 雍和宫五道营胡同74号, +86 10 8404 0767. noon-11pm. This restaurant's Mexican offerings are authentic, and the soft-shelled tacos are excellent. It's a nice location to spend a laid-back evening.

Splurge[edit]

  • 5 Saveurs de Coree, 29 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷29号), 20 Ju'er Hutong (SE corner of Nanluogoxiang intersection; 1 block S of Gulou E St.), +86 10 6401 6083, . Korean food in a fancy setting. Can be expensive, but special set menus are a good deal.

Drink[edit]

Nanluoguxiang area[edit]

Nanluoguxiang

Bar cluster established around 2006 in hutong area east of Houhai. The atmosphere in this area is still more authentic Beijing than the neighboring Houhai area, and the action here usually starts already during the afternoon at bars with outdoors space.

  • 1 12SQM (12平米; Shíèrpíngmǐ), 1 Fuxiang Hutong, Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷福祥胡同1号; Nánluógǔxiàngfúxiánghútòng) (SW corner of Nanluogoxiang intersection (first N of Di'anmen E St).), +86 10 6402 1554, . 5PM-midnight. Very small bar/café that takes its name from its original floor space (website claims it's the smallest in Beijing, although it has expanded to 45sqm since)
  • 2 Guitar Bar (吉他吧; Jítābā), 40 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷40号; Nánluógǔxiàng) (SE corner of Qianyuan'ensi Hutong intersection), +86 10 6405 7263. 6PM-12AM. Very small bar with standard drink and Italian food. Guitar jam most nights.
  • 3 Hutong Bar (胡同儿; Hútòngér), 39 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷39号; Nánluógǔxiàng) (First four-way intersection S of Gulou E St.), +86 10 6400 6808. 3PM-2AM. Small bar serving tea and beer.
  • 4 Jianghu Bar (江湖酒吧; Jiānghújiǔbā), 7 Dongmianhua Hutong (东棉花胡同7号; Dōngmiánhuahútòng) (60m W of Jiaodaokou S St on N side), +86 10 6401 4611. Simple live music venue.
  • 5 alba, 70 Gulou Dongdajie (鼓楼东大街70号; Gǔlóudōngdàjiē) (100m E of Nanluogoxiang, S side of street at end of alley), +86 10 6709 1383, . 4PM-late. Bar serving signature cocktails, mixed drinks, rums and whiskeys.
  • 6 Mao Live House, 111 Gulou East Street (鼓楼东大街111号; Gǔlóudōngdàjiē) (NE corner of Nanluogoxiang intersection), +86 10 6402 5080, . Most shows start around 8-9PM. Live rock music venue. The stage is great, the sound system is okay and the concert room and furniture are very basic. ¥40-80.
  • 7 The Pool Bar, 106 Gulou Dongdajie (鼓楼东大街106号; Gǔlóudōngdàjiē) (SW corner of Nanluogoxiang intersection), +86 10 8404 7956. 6PM-2AM. Yes, they do have a pool table (and also foosball). Cheap.
  • 8 Reef Bar, 14 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷14号; Nánluógǔxiàng) (50m S of Gulou E St), +86 10 8169 8494. 2:30PM-4:30AM. Basic bar. Not Cheap.
  • 9 Salud (老伍酒吧 Lǎowǔ Jiǔbā; e.a.t), 66 Nánluógǔxiàng 南锣鼓巷66号, +86 10 6402 5086. A Spanish-style tapas bar. Blues jam every Thursday, 9pm. ¥20 for 0.5l Tsingtao.
  • 10 Tree House, 81 Ju'er Hutong (菊儿胡同81号; Júérhútòng) (30m W of Nanluogoxiang on N side of street), +86 138 1044 6267, . 8:30AM-1AM. Small and quiet pub/café, one of the few to be open also in the morning. Evening events now and then. Coffee from ¥15; beer from ¥10.
Great Leap Brewing
  • 11 Great Leap Brewing I 大跃啤酒, 6 Doujiao Hutong 角胡同6号 (60m south of Fangzhuanchang Hutong), +86 10 5717 1399, . Quite possibly the most difficult bar to find in Beijing. Although it's in the center of everything it's nestled so snugly inside a residential neighborhood that it's nearly impossible for first-timers to locate. It's one of Beijing's first (if not the first) real microbrewery. Founded by a few American guys and one's Chinese wife they have been a huge hit in China and internationally and have been featured on NBC, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and most expat related magazines in China. The beer menu changes almost weekly but a few standards are always on the board. They are expanding with new stores and distributing to other bars in Beijing. Pints from ¥25.
  • 12 Pass By Bar (过客), 108 Nanluogu Xiang 南锣鼓巷108号 (200m north of Nanluoguxiang Station, Exit E), +86 10 8403 8004. Daily 9.30am-2am. Cool bar in the heart of Nanluoguxiang, serves beer and food, with open-air upstairs to look out over the hutongs. Lots of great posters to admire. 30-50 pp.

Drum Tower and Bell Tower area[edit]

Another smaller and quieter cluster of bars, close to both Houhai and Nanluoguxiang.

  • 13 Ball House, 40 Zhonglouwan, Gulou Dajie (鼓楼大街钟楼湾40号; Gǔlóudàjiēzhōnglóuwān) (SE of Bell Tower), +86 10 6407 4051. 2PM-3AM. Bar with pool and foosball. Frequented by local artists.
  • 14 Bed Bar (床; Chuáng), 17 Zhangwang Hutong, Jiu Gulou Dajie (旧鼓楼大街张旺胡同17号; Jiùgǔlóudàjiēzhāngwànghútòng) (100m E of Jiugulou St), +86 10 8400 1554. 2PM-3AM. Relaxed bar with a lot of rugs and pillows.
  • 15 Drum and Bell, 41 Zhonglouwan Hutong (On the west side of the square between Bell and Drum towers.), +86 10 84033600. Best part of this bar is the comfortable rooftop patio (especially if you can score a table with couches) that overlooks the Bell Tower and the square (which at night is clear of tour buses and used by locals playing badminton).
  • 16 Jiangjin Bar (疆进酒; Jiāngjìnjiǔ), 2 Zhongku hutong (钟库胡同2号; Zhōngkùhútòng) (S side of hutong on W side of Bell and Drum tower square), +86 10 8405 0124. Noon-2AM. The cocktails are not good, but the live folk music jam is great.
  • 17 Zen Bar, 18 Zhonglouwan Hutong (钟楼湾18号; Zhōnglóuwān) (Off NE side of Bell Tower), +86 10 6400 6859. 10AM-11PM. Very small and quiet bar hidden away in a hutong. Nice simple surroundings including a lot of Buddhas. Beer from ¥15.

Wudaoying Hutong[edit]

Quite possibly the most charming retail street and place for a drink in Beijing. The narrow lane goes east to west starting from across the street of Lama Temple, and is mainly made up of a mix of Hello Kitty cute tiny coffee and pastry shops, hangout terrace cafes, clothing and craft boutiques, and a couple of bars. The calm but popular street is an idealized glimpse of contemporary, middle class Beijing with a local crowd—rather than throngs of tourists like in Nanluoguxiang—milling through on a weekend stroll or snapping wedding pictures on less packed weekends. Unlike the expat heavy bars around Gulou, the street is local in character so more the venue for an afternoon tipple than nightlife. The street is fairly quiet at night with about half a dozen bars and coffeeshops open past midnight.

Other[edit]

  • 18 Mao Mao Chong Bar, 市东城区交道口南大街板厂胡同12号; 12 Banchang Hutong (At corner of Chaodou Hutong, one block W of Jiaodoukou S St), +86 139 2692 4563, . 5:30PM-late. This relaxed hutong pub serves reasonably priced international beers, wines and stellar cocktails. The walls are decorated with art and t-shirts for sale by the bar's owners, a husband-wife team who also cook up some of the city's best pizzas. Just east of Nanluoguxiang, Mao Mao Chong is the perfect escape from Beijing's flashy bar districts. Pizzas ¥45-¥75, antipasto ¥45, cocktails from ¥40, bottled beers from ¥30. Cheaper than most bars in Beijing.
  • 19 Minty, 26 Mao'er Hutong (帽儿胡同26号; Màoérhútòng) (80m E of where the bends to the south, away from the street, when coming from Di'anmen Outer Street), +86 138 1022 2787. 1PM-midnight. Neighborhood bar with live folk music now and then. Cheap.
  • 20 Modernista (老摩), 44 Baochao Hutong, Gulou Dongdajie 鼓楼东大街宝钞胡同44号, +86 136 9142 5744. Daily 6pm-late. Modernista is a European-inspired cafe, restaurant and bar in the heart of Beijing traditional hutongs. They also showcase what they say is "the best of Beijing´s live music, performances, art and cultural events". 30-50 per person.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • 1 Beijing Zaoyuanju Hotel (北京枣园居宾馆; Běijīngzǎoyuánjūbīnguǎn), 17 Zhangwang Hutong, Jiugulou Street (旧鼓楼大街张旺胡同17号; Jiùgǔlóudàjiē Zhāngwànghútòng) (500m south from Guoloudajie Metro Station (line 2)), +86 10 6404 2653, fax: +86 10 6403 1197. Rooms with free internet. Ticket office and laudry service available. Western restaurant, bar and room service. The rooms and especially the bathrooms are small. There is some noise from other guests and from the hutong life outside. Great location close to bar areas and sights. Listed rates for doubles from ¥288, discounted from ¥170; breakfast ¥10.
  • 2 Flowering House Hostel (北京易静小栈国际青年旅舍; Běijīng Yìjìngxiǎozhàn Guójìqīngniánlǚshè), 23 Huageng Hutong, Jiaodaokou (交道口花梗胡同23号; Jiāodàokǒu Huāgěnghútòng) (300m southwest of Beixinqiao Metro Station (line 5)), +86 10 6400 4560, . Hostel in traditional courtyard. Free internet, safe, laundry facilities, massage and bicycle rent available. Chinese and Western restaurant. Listed rates for dorms/doubles without bathroom/doubles with bathroom from ¥60/¥179/¥289, discounted from ¥30/¥179/¥260.
  • 3 Home Inn (Beijing Jiaodaokou) (如家酒店 (北京交道口店); Rújiājiǔdiàn), 113 Jiaodaokou East Street (交道口东大街113号; Jiāodàokǒudōngdàjiē) (600m W of Beixinqiao Metro Station (line 5); N up alley), +86 10 8405 0909, fax: +86 10 8405 0505. Small rooms with free internet. Business center and laundry service available. Chinese restaurant and room service. Listed rates for doubles from ¥219, discounted from ¥182; breakfast ¥15.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 4 Red Wall Hotel (北京红墙饭店; Běijīnghóngqiángfàndiàn), 31 Shatan North Street (沙滩北街31号; Shātānběijiē) (Just east of Jingshan Park), +86 10 5109 8888, fax: +86 10 5109 8999. Rooms with free internet. Business center, gift shop and beauty salon available. Chinese and Wester restaurant as well as coffee shop. Listed rates for doubles from ¥1,281, discounted from ¥303; breakfast ¥41. Listed rates seem unrealistically high.
  • 5 Shatan Hotel (北京沙滩宾馆; Běijīngshātānbīnguǎn), 28 Shatanhou Street (沙滩后街28号; Shātānhòujiē) (Just east of Jingshan Park, follow Shatan Back St to SE corner of first four-way intersection), +86 10 8402 6688, fax: +86 10 84023016, . Rooms with free internet and aircon. Business center, ticket office, laundry service, hair dressing, bath center, billard and table tennis available. Chinese and Western restaurant and room service. Best rates on official website start at ¥408.

Splurge[edit]

  • 6 Ascott Beijing, No.108B Jianguo Road, Chaoyang District, +86 10 6587 0888, . Centrally located in Beijing's business and retail district. All apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms and three to four-bedroom penthouses have kitchen and a home entertainment system.

Connect[edit]

  • 1 Internet Bar, 24 Meishuguan E St (SE corner of Cuifu Alley intersection, 100m N of Dongsi W St), +86 10 6401 5483.
  • 2 Wangju Internet Bar, 449 Dongsi N St, (W side of street 200m N of Dongsi subway station Exit A).
This district travel guide to Gulou is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.