Nanluoguxiang in downtown Beijing is ranked as one of the 25 best Asian flavored tourist destinations recently in Time Magazine. It is famous for its boutiques, restaurants and bars along both sides of the hutong laneways which give a cultural flavor.
Along with Nanluoguxiang are six other tourist destinations in China mentioned in Time Magazine, including the Ancient Tea-Horse Road – a trade path between Tibet Autonomous Region, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in ancient times; the area that produces Hotan jade in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region; and Sunbeam Theatre, a landmark theater in Hong Kong showcasing Cantonese opera.
The south-north central lane of Nanluoguxiang is 768 meters long, with 16 hutong meandering east and west of the laneway. This was the typical hutong layout of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). With a history of more than 700 years, Nanluoguxiang is one of the capital's oldest hutong areas.
Michael Schiavello, a sports journalist from New Zealand said, "Many friends of mine spoke about Nanluoguxiang before I came to China. It deserves the reputation indeed and is especially attractive to foreign visitors." He came to China twice, once during the 2008 Olympic Games and in October this year. Schiavello chose to live in a courtyard-style hotel near Nanluoguxiang twice due to its Chinese-flavored architecture – the siheyuan or courtyard-style houses, souvenir shops and the relaxing bars.
After two years'renovation, Nanluoguxiang has become a commercial street with character in Beijing. It has many unique shops, from small booths offering yogurt in ceramic bottles, ,and boutiques selling silk shawls, and various handicrafts designed by local artists.
If one walks through Nanluoguxiang, the tranquil atmosphere inside the lane makes him forget about the hustle and bustle in the street. The lane is now dotted with more than 30 bars, cafés, restaurants and small handicraft shops. The bars and cafés inside the lane are mingled with residential homes. As residents living here don't like the lane to be too noisy, and most tourists come here to enjoy the quietness of the lane, most bars here are usually quiet.