Hutongs are excellent places to see the city’s old streets if you travel to Beijing with some superb Beijing tours operating in and around different hutongs. Stepping off the subway at Yonghegong Lama Temple tourists will encounter over the road from the temple, a maze of amazing (pun intended) cafes in the Wudaoying Hutong. This hutong is recognizable with its large gate and is the ideal place to have a beverage if you want to waken your senses in this transcendent location.

Sirena Bar is simply complements the alternative and recently regenerated nature of the hutong. Influenced by the Japanese ‘Hello Kitty’ franchise, Beijing has leapt on board to embrace the feline variety. The owners of the cafes have been successful with their venture with the café going from strength to strength with the café currently home to nine cats. Customers can choose to sit near the bar where it is likely you can spot a silky-smooth Siamese cat perched on rest. Yet, if in a small party, you could always hide on the couches upstairs which is pleasantly lit by natural light. The cats are supposedly kept away from the kitchen area for hygiene reasons, but because the cats generally lounge freely in the café, if you have an allergy towards cats, this place may not be ideal.

Sirena’s somewhat Mediterranean appearance with white walls and blue fittings gives the feeling of being in a quaint village which it a wonderful contrast to the hutong outside. The cafes along Wudaoying Hutong are definitely special in how they all have a unique presence. In contrast to Sirena’s bright façade, a few doors away is a bar with has a dark vampire theme with blood-entitled cocktails. If you like the sounds Sirena Bar’s appearance (but you are not a fan of cats), then Sand Pebbles Lounge is might appeal. This fresh-looking café serves Mexican/American-style food with a refreshing seaside décor to match which is quite a change from Chinese cuisine or fast-food joints.

Wudaoying Hutong does have a few eating places, although surrounding areas might be best if you are looking for cheaper and more localized dishes. Recommendations down the hutong include; the Vineyard, The Veggie Table and the V.A. (‘vanguard’) Bar. The only thing truly in common with these establishments is the letter ‘v’; apart that they all provide express their distinct vibes – The Vineyard with its romantic air, The Veggie Table for those who like their greens and the VA for its jazz music.

Due to the casual atmosphere of the Wudaoying Hutong, this unsurprisingly attracts many liberal-minded individuals and or backpackers. Thus logic follows this, and there are subsequently quite a few hostels to be found around the hutong. The Confucius International Youth Hostel is situated on Wudaoying Hutong and the Lama Temple International Youth Hostel is close by. Another option is to have a read of the Beijing hotels listings for those who prefer a little extra comfort and privacy.

Jack Li
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