Gulou is the precinct near the Drum Tower. It's part of the Dongcheng administrative district in Beijing. It's north of the to the Forbidden City and includes the best preserved hutongs of the old city of Beijing.
The Drum Tower was originally built in 1272 and reconstructed at a new location in 1800. The Bell Tower was built around 1700. Being situated straight north from the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen and Qianmen Street, they are on the central north-south axis of Beijing. The area to the west has remained as hutongs, the old city style and mostly free of modern buildings. It has picked up a very vibrant community life and night scene, especially along Nanluoguxiang - a pedestrian street.
The precinct is served by the wider Beijing public transport network. Subway Line 2 runs around the north edge of the precinct. Line 6 runs east-west across south of the precinct. Line 5 runs along the east side of the precinct.
- Drum and Bell Towers (钟鼓楼; Zhōnggǔlóu), Di'anmen St (地安门大街; Dì'ānmén Dàjiē (Short walk SE from Gulou Dajie St (Lines 2, 8) or accessible by bus 107 or 635 (from Dongzhimen)), ☎ +86 10 6401-2674. 09:00-17:00 (ticket counter closes 16:40). The Drum Tower was originally built in 1272 and reconstructed at a new location in 1800. The Bell Tower was built around 1700. Being situated straight north from the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen and Qianmen Street, they are on the central north-south axis of Beijing. Originally, the towers were used to play music and later on to tell the Beijingers the time. Now they houses 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. edit
- Mao Dun Former Residence (茅盾故居; Máodùn Gùjū), 13 Yuanensi Hutong (后圆恩寺胡同13号; Hòuyuánēnsì Hútòng) (1.5 km SE of Beixinqiao Stn (Line 5), or buses 113, 755 to Jiaodaokou S Stn (交道口南)), ☎ +86 10 6404-4089. 09:00-16:00. Mao Dun (1896-1981) was a famous revolutionary writer. His former residence including personal effects and writings can be seen here. ¥5. edit
- Soka Art Centre (索卡艺术中心; Suǒkǎyìshùzhōngxīn), 107 Dongsi N St (东四北大街107号; Dōngsì Běi Dàjiē), ☎ +86 10 8401-2377 ([email protected], fax: +86 10 8401-3434), . Tu-Su 10:00-21:00. Founded in 1992 in Taiwan and established in Beijing in 2001. The gallary exhibits modern famous artist from China and around Asia. Free. edit
- 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), ☎ +86 10 8402-2285. edit
- 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), ☎ +86 10 8404-6174, . Performances include both plays and dance. edit
- Central Experimental Drama Theater (国家话剧院; Guójiāhuàjùyuàn), 45A Mao'er Hutong, Di'anmenwai St (地安门外大街猫儿胡同45号; Dìānménwàidàjiēmāoérhútòng), ☎ +86 10 6403-1009, . Both Chinese and foreign plays and both classical and experimental. edit
- Hutongs. Hutongs are the old neighbourhoods and alleyways of Beijing. While all four 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. The restored touristy hutong of Nanluoguxiang is worth a visit for shopping, eating, and drinking, and 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. edit
- Culture Yard: Explore Chinese culture through various workshops, 10 Shique Hutong, Dongcheng District (Beixingqiao Stn exit C walk 400 m to your L), ☎ +86 10 8404-4166, . 09:00-21:00. Culture Yard: Explore Chinese culture through various workshops. Culture Yard is a foreign run cultural centre in the heart of Beijing that offers language courses as well as cultural workshops, which focus on introducing Chinese culture to the international community, as well as foreign culture to the local community " (Culture Yard Website) . Culture Yard hosts film, mahjong, tea, calligraphy, discussion seminars, art classes, chinese and other language study programs, and wine tastings. Free. edit
- Cooking classes, . Daily from 10:30, closed W. A few places around Nanluoguxiang now offer Chinese cooking classes. One such place, Hutong Cuisine, is run by an English-speaking chef in a small hutong home. Classes are small. Reservations are necessary. ¥180. edit
- 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. edit
- Mirch Masala Indian Cuisine (masala indian restaurant), 60-2 Nanluoguxiang (in Jing Yang Hutong number 1), ☎ +86 10 6406-4347, . 11:30-22:30. Located on the tourist street of Nanluoguxiang, Mirch Masala serves North-Indian dishes. 60. edit
- Xiao Xin's Cafe (小新的店), 103 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷103号). 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. edit
- Saveurs de Coree, 29 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷29号). Korean food in a fancy setting. Can be expensive, but special set menus are a good deal. edit
Nanluogu Xiang area
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.
- 12SQM (12平米; Shíèrpíngmǐ), 1 Fuxiang Hutong, Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷福祥胡同1号; Nánluógǔxiàngfúxiánghútòng), ☎ +86 10 6402-1554 ([email protected]), . 17:00-00:00. Very small bar/café. edit
- Guitar Bar (吉他吧; Jítābā), 40 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷40号; Nánluógǔxiàng), ☎ +86 10 6405-7263. 18:00-00:00. Very small bar with standard drink and Italian food. Guitar jam most nights. edit
- Hutong Bar (胡同儿; Hútòngér), 39 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷39号; Nánluógǔxiàng), ☎ +86 10 6400-6808. 15:00-02:00. Small bar serving tea and beer. edit
- In Bar & Café, 17-1 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷17－1号; Nánluógǔxiàng), ☎ +86 10 8402-2050, . 14:30-02:00. Quiet café. Beer from ¥10. edit
- Jianghu Bar (江湖酒吧; Jiānghújiǔbā), 7 Dongmianhua Hutong (东棉花胡同7号; Dōngmiánhuahútòng), ☎ +86 10 6401-4611. Simple live music venue. edit
- Lugar, 70 Gulou Dong Dajie (鼓楼东大街70号; Gǔlóudōngdàjiē), ☎ +86 10 6709-1383 ([email protected]). 16:00-late. Vietnames tapas bar serving signature cocktails, mixed drinks, rums and whiskeys. edit
- Mao Live House, 111 Gulou E St (鼓楼东大街111号; Gǔlóu Dōng Dàjiē), ☎ +86 10 6402-5080 ([email protected]), . Most shows start around 20:00-21:00. Live rock music venue. The stage is great, the sound system is okay and the concert room and furniture are very basic. ¥40-80. edit
- Ned's, 84 Nanluo Guxiang (南锣鼓巷84号; Nánluógǔxiàng), ☎ +86 134 0118 1374 ([email protected]). 18:00-late. Small Australian bar with football on the television. edit
- The Pool Bar, 106 Gulou Dong Dajie (鼓楼东大街106号; Gǔlóu Dōng Dàjiē), ☎ +86 10 8404-7956. 18:00-02:00. Yes, they do have a pool table (and also foosball). Cheap. edit
- Reef Bar, 14 Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷14号; Nánluógǔxiàng), ☎ +86 10 8169-8494. 14:30-04:30. Basic bar. Not Cheap. edit
- Salud (老伍酒吧 Lǎowǔ Jiǔbā), 66 Nánluógǔxiàng 南锣鼓巷66号, ☎ +86 10 6402-5086. A Spanish-style tapas bar. edit
- Tree House, 81 Ju'er Hutong (菊儿胡同81号; Júérhútòng), ☎ +86 138 1044 6267 ([email protected]), . 08:30-01:00. 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. edit
- Pass By Bar (过客), 108 Nanluogu Xiang 南锣鼓巷108号 (From the bridge, walk along the south side of Houhai Lake for 200m, then turn left), ☎ 8403 8004. Daily 9.30am-2am. This cool bar serves beer, wine and food, with open upstairs to look out over the hutongs. Lots of great posters to admire. 30-50 pp. (39.9338,116.3972) edit
Drum Tower and Bell Tower area
Another smaller and quieter cluster of bars, close to both Houhai and Nanluoguxiang.
- Ball House, 40 Zhonglouwan, Gulou Dajie (鼓楼大街钟楼湾40号; Gǔlóudàjiēzhōnglóuwān), ☎ +86 10 6407-4051. 14:00-03:00. Bar with pool and foosball. Frequented by local artists. edit
- Bed Bar (床; Chuáng), 17 Zhangwang Hutong, Jiu Gulou Dajie (旧鼓楼大街张旺胡同17号; Jiùgǔlóudàjiēzhāngwànghútòng), ☎ +86 10 8400-1554. 14:00-03:00. Relaxed bar with a lot of rugs and pillows. edit
- Drum and Bell, 41 Zhonglouwan Hutong (On the W side of the square between Bell and Drum towers), ☎ +86 10 8403-3600. 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). edit
- Jiangjin Bar (疆进酒; Jiāngjìnjiǔ), 2 Zhongku hutong (钟库胡同2号; Zhōngkùhútòng), ☎ +86 10 8405-0124, . Noon-2AM. The cocktails are not good, but the live folk music jam is great. edit
- Zen Bar, 18 Zhonglouwan Hutong (钟楼湾18号; Zhōnglóuwān), ☎ +86 10 6400-6859. 10:00-23:00. Very small and quiet bar hidden away in a hutong. Nice simple surroundings including a lot of Buddhas. Beer from ¥15. edit
- Minty, 26 Mao'er Hutong (帽儿胡同26号; Màoérhútòng), ☎ +86 138 1022 2787. 13:00-00:00. Neighborhood bar with live folk music now and then. Cheap. edit
- Slow Boat Brewery Taproom, 56 Dongsi Batio; 东城区东四八条56号 (Zhangzizhonglu Stn, Line 5), ☎ +86 10 6538-5537, . Arguably some of the best craft beers in the city and all of China. Have won several awards for their craft brews and pub fare, including their beef and tofu burgers and imported potatoes used to make fries. It's a low key sipping place that has purposefully quiet background music and plenty of attention on refilling empty pint glasses. Food is brought to the table but drinks require venturing up to the bar. edit