The aspect of Hutongs that attracts many visitors is their careful synthesis of Western commercial and social style, in a traditional Chinese format, and the manner in which they are substantially cut off from the rat race that characterises the hustle and bustle of everyday life in congested Beijing. Wudaoying has been christened as "the new Nanluoguxiang" due to its close proximity and similarities to the now legendary, gentrified hutong. Its attractiveness lies in its simplicity and tranquillity, which remains preserved, while the daily deluge of shoppers and attention that have accompanied Nanluoguxiang’s fame and legendary status has wiped away the quiet atmosphere and serenity that was its original selling point.

Wudaoying Hutong: An Emerging Force in Beijing’s Hutong Scene
Photo: blog.163.com

Since the Vineyard Café opened in 2006, Wudaoying Hutong has grown at an astonishing rate into a major social hub of activity in Dongcheng District. While the Vineyard Café was initially the sole attraction in what was then a dusty alley with little meaningful activity, its popularity paved the way for other establishments to open along the Hutong. Other Cafes along the Hutong include L’s Café and Linfusion. These have a distinctly comfortable feel, with bookshelves and cushioned furniture designed to entice visitors simulating the feeling of a home living room. Hot beverages are priced from 25 RMB upwards.

Foreign cuisine also finds a place in Wudaoying with Argo, the Greek restaurant, which features live music every Saturday night from 19:00-21:30. The place is steeped in Greek mythology and culture providing a helpful educational and social environment. The restaurant also serves delicious chicken kebabs costing 70RMB, and has a list of well chosen imported wines for 40 RMB per glass. Veggie Table is a vegetarian-themed restaurant that generally averages out at 60 RMB per person. It features a fine array of mushroom dishes, salads and breads designed to provide a nutritious and filling alternative to Beijing’s usual meat crammed dishes.

Wudaoying follows the format of many popular expat hangouts in Beijing by offering Western-oriented services that aren’t obtainable in most parts of Beijing. Sunkissed Tanning studio boasts manys imported sun tan lotions and bronzers. However, an increasing number of Chinese people are beginning to feature in its roster of regular customers. Nagqu is a boutique shop that sells custom silk and cashmere; it also has an extensive collection of glamorous beads and pearls.

Vanguard is a video and audio bar. It has an incredible sound system for a place of its size and it fittingly hosts local performers on Wednesday evenings. Renowned as a good place to network, it is frequented by many businessmen and managers from a wide array of different sectors throughout Beijing. Saffron Restaurant has a Mediterranean style theme, serving mainly Spanish cuisine. It also contains an impressive and spacious downstairs cellar, which is a perfect venue for parties and wedding receptions. Prices for meals range from 50 RMB onwards. Most shops in Wudaoying are closed on Mondays.

Even though it is clearly now bustling with commercial activity, a quick stroll down Wudaoying is still a calming and tranquil window into a different side of Beijing; a Beijing that hasn’t been eclipsed by the overworked monotony of life in a 21st century metropolis. Wudaoying is justifiably acquiring a reputation as one of Beijing’s premier hutong hangouts, due to the friendly and serene atmosphere that has continued to accompany that rapid proliferation of new restaurants, bars and stores. The likely prospect that fame and reputation may cause Wudaoying to go in the same direction as Nanluoguxiang and end up losing its quiet uniqueness, is an urgent call for enthusiasts of the quiet, laid-back Hutong life, to make sure they visit and enjoy it while they can.

Venue Information

Getting there: Wudaoying Hutong is equidistant from Andingmen and Lama Temple Subway Stations on Lines 2 and 5 respectively.

Vanguard BarView In Map
Add: 13 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing  
地址: 北京市东城区五道营胡同13号
Tel: 010 5844 3638
Open mic night: Wednesday, 21:30-23:30

Veggie TableView In Map
Add: 19 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
地址: 北京市东城区五道营胡同19号
Tel: 010 6446 2073

ArgoView In Map
Add: 59 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
地址: 北京市东城区五道营胡同59号
Tel: 010 8403 9748
Opening hours 11:30-23:00

SaffronView In Map
Add: 64 Wudaoying Hutong, Doncheng District, Beijing
地址: 北京市东城区五道营胡同64号院
Tel: 010 8404 4909
Opening hours: Noon-14:00, 18:00-22:30

Sunkissed Tanning StudioView In Map
Add: 65 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District
地址: 北京市东城区雍和宫五道营胡同65号
Tel: 158 0104 7554
Website: http://www.sunkissedbeijing.com

NagquView In Map
Add: 67 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District
地址: 北京市东城区五道营胡同67号  1号近箭厂胡同
Opening hours: 12:00-21:00
Tel: 010 8402 2059

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