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Xicheng District, Beijing, China

Reasons to visit

Famous for rich nightlife and dining

Our Ratings

Opening Hours

  • All day for free

Houhai is an integral part of Shichahai. Houhai is the largest of the three lakes, along with Qianhai (lit. the "Front Sea") and Xihai (lit. the "Western Sea"), that comprise Shichahai, the collective name for the three northern-most lakes in central Beijing. Its total area is 146.7 hectares, of which the waters area is 34 hectares, green area is 11.5 hectares. This is the ancient waters in Beijing 700 years ago, during the period of Dadu. In fact, it is a huge artificial lake, is the royal exclusive pool in ancient time.

Houhai is located in the center of Beijing; it’s only four or five stations from Tiananmen. It is linked with Beihai, and relatively distant from Jingshan and Summer Palace. It is the marvelous place that with water and be able to view mountains, weeping willows whisk coast idle land, residents around the palace and former residence are required to elaborate the history of Beijing City and the endless charm. People come here for hearing the crisp autumn where the insects are still able to see the old Beijing courtyard buildings in miniature, still able to feel and that seems to have the royal vestiges and remains.

Popular Ways to Explore Houhai

【Hit the bars at night】
Since the early 2000s, the Hutongs neighboring around Houhai has become known for its nightlife as many residences along the lake shore have been converted into restaurants, bars, and cafes. The area is especially popular with foreign tourists visiting Beijing and is also often visited by the expatriate community and the younger generations of locals.

In recent years it has become famous for nightlife because it is home to several popular restaurants, bars and cafes. Until recently Houhai only consisted of a few restaurants. Houhai first become popular with modern establishments on the newly constructed Lotus Lane in 2003.

【Have a leisure stroll along Hutongs】
There are a lot of Hutongs surrounding Houhai area. You can have a leisure stroll by walk or by renting a rickshaw. It is a wonderful place to go at all hours of the day, especially the afternoon. The colors, sights, and sounds of Houhai blend together in a romantic intoxication that whisks away visitors and lets them forget the stresses from outside. Hutongs line the back streets and allow shoppers to experience the cultural alley ways and hip stores in the area. Of course there are more bars back in these parts but also some unique things too. With a little knowhow and gumption, treasure seekers can find their prized China souvenir, seek refuge in a tea house, or find a unique piece of local jewelry.

Strolling around the lake in its entirety can take quite a long time, (maybe like 30 minutes to an hour), but there is no shortage in things to see and experience.

How to Get There

Public Bus Line 5, 60, 90, 107 and 204 stop at the Drum Tower Station, just east of Houhai. The nearest subway station at Beihai North on Line 6 is about half a kilometer west of Qianhai. To reach Houhai, subway riders must walk north along the shore of Qianhai to Houhai. It is recommended to spend one to two days to wondering around. 

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