There aren’t, to be frank, too many streets in Beijing that could be called appealing, so north–south hutong Nanluogu Xiang (南锣鼓巷, nán luó gŭ xiàng) is a little oasis. Dotted with laidback cafés, boutiques and restaurants, it has become a playground for the city’s bobos (bourgeois-bohemians). Still, in the alleys around you’ll see enough open-air mahjong games, rickety stores and old men sitting out with their caged birds to maintain that ramshackle, backstreet Beijing charm. If there seems to be a surfeit of bright and beautiful young things, that’s because of the drama school just around the corner. All in all, it’s a great place to idle over a cappuccino.

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