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Beijing is a city of sharp contrasts in all its aspects. Next to glorious and shiny palaces and busy and hectic streets, you will find a reminder of what the city used to be not too long ago. Hutong comes from Mongolian "huto" and means water well. First hutongs appeared in Beijing in the late 13th century. They are courtyard residences, built in narrow alleys, surrounded by high gray walls. There are houses on each side of hutong, called "siheyuan" (quadrangle). A hutong walk is a must, it is such a vivid glimpse into the culture and livelihood. Tip Start your walk by the Drum Tower and continue east all the way to Lama Temple and beyond.
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