Plan your Beijing tour? In Beijing, there still exist some places where you can see the old streets, the Northern Chinese vernacular buildings and authentic Beijing folk culture despite of the fast pace of the local urbanization and gentrification.
Yandai Xiejie Street, or Smoking Pipes Byway ( Yandai literally “Smoking Pipes” ) is one of such old commercial streets that showcase Beijing’s past. Yandai Byway was originally formed in Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368) and further developed and reached its height in late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Yandai, literally “Smoking Pipes”, was once lined up with many shops selling smoking pipes, hence the name of Yandai.
Yandai Byway is 232 meter long and 5-6 meter wide. It is located about 50 meters south of Drum Tower, lying from east to west, actually running a bit to the southwest, giving it the name of “Byway” ( a slanting street), which pronounces “Xiejie” in Chinese. So Yandai Byway is often written online as Yandaixiejie, Yandai Xiejie, Yandai Xiejie Street or Yandai Slanting Street.
Yandai Byway’s west end is connected to Yaer Hutong and Yinding Bridge to the south. On Nov 10, 2010, Yandai Xiejie was credited by Ministry of Culture, P.R.China as “China Famous Historical Cultural Street”.
In Qing Dynasty and the early 1920-30, in addition to selling smoking pipes, it was also rife with shops selling antiques, jade, paintings, etc, a high-end commercial street during that period.
Today the general outline of the byway is still intact with many buildings sticking to their originality – shop front residence. Beside keeping the tradition of selling smoking pipes, antiques and jade, the lean street also sells silk, tea, Beijing snacks,etc. There are also trendy bars and small eateries on the street.
The whole street looks simple, elegant and eye-catching with Ming and Qing styles. Strolling the old street, you might feel you are in a time passage, unaware of where you are with people around you of different colours and languages, looking for something past and present.
Well, follow us to have a photo tour of Yandaixie Street by entering its west end from Yinding Bridge.
The stone and slab paved street is flanked with shops and boutiques. The stores on the west end start with old Beijing paper cut and cashmere.
The stone paved street, the wooden front stores , stone walls and courtyards, typical of Beijing architecture in the old days. A pleasant stroll along the old but trendy alley teemed with small but interesting shops and bars.
The east end of the smoking pipe street is a former smoking pipes store, a wooden structure. Now it has been turned into a fashionable bar, a former smoking pipes store, a wooden structure.
Let’s look at what they sell in the stores on the smoking pipes byway. Below is a store selling innovative Chinese gifts.
Various kinds of Tea on sale.
Everything in the store comes from Tibet
Silk garments for kids
Silk Blouses and silk clothes for ladies
A store selling traditional lean smoking pipes.
A store selling traditional folded paper fans
Tip: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:
Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites
Any questions, just drop a line.