The beautiful Nanluoguxiang hutong (南锣鼓巷胡同), nestled in Beijing’s historic Dongcheng District, is one of the oldest alleyways in Beijing. The street has a history of over 800 years, and served as a flourishing commercial street during the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), and later as a centre of political activity during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. In the year 2006, the alleyway got a new lease of life when the Beijing government decided to spare it from destruction and, instead, gave it a brand new face lift. Since then, dozens of little shops, cafes, and bars have opened there. But with so many venues to choose from, visitors to the area often end up stumbling into the first cafe they see.
Below is an introduction to some of the cafes on Nanluoguxiang, to make your choice just a little bit easier.
Cafe Alba: The Nanluoguxiang Favourite
This cafe is one of the most popular on Nanluoguxiang. Cafe Alba is the perfect place to relax with a book in one hand and a cup of well-brewed coffee in the other. If it’s a strong cup of coffee and friendly ambience you’re looking for, then you’ve definitely found the right spot. What’s more, Alba also offers a delicious range of freshly prepared food, including sandwiches and a mouth-watering range of desserts. Try their homemade apple tart, or their delicious ice-cream. The cafe also offers free wireless internet, so taking your laptop and lounging in the cafe’s intimate settings for a few hours is also a viable option.
Cafe Alba日光咖啡 View In Map
Address: 79 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing 北京东城区南锣鼓巷79号
Business Hours: 9:00am-1:00am
Tel: 010 - 6407 3730
Price: Less than 100 RMB per couple
This cafe has nothing hip or pretentious about it. The only Tibetan style cafe of its kind on Nanluoguxiang, its bright, yellow walls are both uplifting and lend the place a warm, welcoming atmosphere. This cafe is decorated in the Tibetan style from head to foot; the traditional Tibetan furniture, wall hangings and accessories truly radiate a culture from a mysterious land far away. When you come to this cafe, you quickly feel like you’re a guest in a Tibetan’s home. Apart from the coffee there, the local Tibetan butter tea and milk tea are also worth a try.
Tibet Café 西藏咖啡馆View In Map
Address: 97 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing北京东城区南锣鼓巷97号
Business hours: Open 9am-12:30am
Price: Less than 100 RMB per couple
16 mm Bar
While its name may throw people off a little, 16 mm prides itself for not only being a bar, but a film-themed cafe also. It’s a little dark there, but the evening is when it comes alive. During the day, especially during tea time, lots of people also go there to lounge around on the sofas. Some people even say that the focal point there is the many comfortable sofas – 64 in total. There are also another 40 wooden seats. However, the most popular seats are the ones lining the window, from which you can watch the hordes of people passing by. The cafe is decorated in old film posters and celluloid prints. A different film is screened everyday at 4:30pm.
16 mm Bar “16毫米” 餐吧View In Map
Address: 57 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing北京东城区南锣鼓巷57号
Business hours: 10:30am-2:00am
Three Trees Coffee
This cafe looks different than the rest because of the three trees at the cafe’s front entrance. There’s quite a lethargic, laid back atmosphere there, that’s perfect for passing time and relaxing. The area in the first floor illuminated by the window is very spacious, and what’s more, this cafe also has a “secret” second floor, with only three tables. The area with the window and the skylight are most popular. This little cafe is so popular, though, that sometimes you need to book ahead in order to get a seat.
Three Trees Coffee “三棵树”View In Map
Address: 89 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing北京东城区南锣鼓巷89号
Tel: 010 – 8401 9868
Area: Nanluoguxiang 南锣鼓巷
Location: Located in Dongcheng District, Nanluoguxiang is one of the oldest blocks in Beijing. A long-time favorite of local expats, NLGX is quickly becoming a tourist destination in its own right. It can be reached by bus 815 or 107.
Most taxi drivers will know how to get there, but in case they don’t, the south entrance of the alleyway is located at Di’anmen Dongdajie (地安门东大街).
The north entrance is about 500 meters East of the Drum Tower on Gulou Dong Dajie (鼓楼东大街), so walking from the Gulou (Drum Tower) Subway station is also an option.
For an interactive map of Nanluoguxiang, click here.
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