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  • Address: Houhai, Xicheng

Beijing ATTRACTIONS See all

Back Lakes (Hou Hai)

Beijing has modernized so rapidly that it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like in decades past. One neighborhood, however, has managed to hold on to its old-style hutong architecture: the Back Lakes (Hou Hai or Houhai). Named after the three Shichahai lakes in the area, the Back Lakes neighborhood is one of the last remaining places in Beijing where you can see traditional courtyard-style houses.

While wandering the hutongs allows visitors to see Beijing as it once was, the streets surrounding the lakes, particularly Hou Hai (the largest of the three) show you a modern, hip and multicultural side of Beijing. The banks are lined with shop, stalls, restaurants, bars and hookah dens catering to tourists, locals and the city’s sizable expatriate population alike, making it a fun and bustling place to browse for souvenirs. The breeze from the lake offers a respite from the heat, and boating activities are also available on the lake itself.

The best way to enjoy the Back Lakes area is to take a pedicab tour of the old hutong neighborhoods in the afternoon. Afterward, take a leisurely walk around the lake before settling in to a table at a restaurant or bar balcony for dinner and drinks as you watch the world go by.

Practical Info

Houhai is located in the Xicheng District of central Beijing. The nearest subway station is Beihai North on Line 6, and there are a number of bus routes also serving the area.

Tours & Tickets

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Small-Group Beijing Night Walking Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 29 Reviews

Watch as Beijing’s winding ‘hutongs’ (alleys), glimmering waterways and recreational parks come alive at night on this 3-hour walking tour. Follow your ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $70.00

3-Hour Beijing Hutong Bike Tour

The hutongs means the ancient alleys or lanes typical in Beijing. As the city develops, its traditional hutongs are disappearing quickly. Hutongs wind ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $56.00

Beijing City Bike Rental

Explore Beijing city on wheels, with your own itinerary and schedule. Take your full day rental bike to Tian'anmen Square, cycle along the hutongs, or head ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: Flexible, but make sure to return by 6pm

From USD $16.00

Beijing Nightlife Insider Tour

Experience the best of Beijing’s nightlife on this 5-hour tour with an insider! You’ll visit several local hot spots – from classic beer joints to stylish ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $129.99

Private Night Sightseeing Tour of Beijing

See Beijing when it sparkles at night! Beijing’s diversified nightlife is fun for everyone. Take a night tour to watch the attractions come to life through ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $90.00

Half-Day Cultural Tour in Beijing: Nanluoguxiang, Beijing Duck Dinner and Peking Opera Show

This tour focuses on showing Beijing’s ancient residential culture as you’ll explore the hutong area in the afternoon by visiting Shichahai and  ...  Read more

Location: Beijing, China
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $145.00

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