Beijing's ancient hutong streets are slowly fading away. Remaining popular hutongs, such as Nanluoguxiang, are overrun by tourists who shop in hoards on the famous snack street. For your next hutong jaunt, skip overcrowded, commercialized Nanluoguxiang and head to its lesser known neighbor: Yandai Xiejie.
To the north of Di'anmen lies Yandai Xijie, one of Beijing's most ancient hutongs. The alley opens onto Andingmen Outer Street, and links with Xiao Shibei Hutong and Ya'er Hutong to the west. In its early days, Yandai Xiejie was known by a different name: Gulou Xijie. Why was the alley's name changed?
During the Qing dynasty, pipes and hookahs were very popular with the Manchu bannermen living within the old city walls. The demand for pipe tobacco increased greatly in Beijing over this period. One by one, the families living in Gulou Xijie opened up small tobacco and pipe shops. In the late Qing dynasty the name of the hutong was changed to Yandai Xiejie, or Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street. The name is also often translated as Old Pipe Street.
Today, Yandai Xijie houses two famous pipe shops: Heng Tai Hao and Shuang Sheng Tai. Shuang Sheng Tai's tobacco pipes are known as the best in Beijing. The hutong doesn't just house pipe stores- there are also a variety of kitschy watch shops, antique shops, frame shops and more, all with old Beijing character.
Another point of interest is Taoist temple Guangfu Guan. The temple was constructed during the Ming Dynasty by the Tianshun Emperor in his third year of rule (1459). The temple has more than 500 years of history. When it was first constructed, it served as a kind of “general headquarters,” for Taoists all over the world. The temple was renovated during the Qing dynasty under the Yongzheng's rule and its name was changed to Fuyu Gong. The temple's name was changed back to Guangfu Guan after the fall of the Republic of China, and was later renovated again and reopened in 2008.
Various traditional Beijing snacks are also sold in the alley. Travelers can snack on shaobing, steamed buns, wontons, baodu, and more. Snacking on old Beijing staples is the best way to experience culture while hanging out in the hutongs.
Yandai Xiejie is less crowded than Nanluoguxiang but still has plenty of old Beijing vibes. The hutong is not as well known as Nanluoguxiang but its culture is the same. The same kind of antiques are available on Yandai Xiejie, and you don't have to fight hoards of shoppers to get near them. If you hate crowds, and love culture than make sure to check out Yandai Xiejie while in Beijing.
Source: QQ News
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Keywords: Beijing Yandai Xijie Beiing Old Pipe Street
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