Located in the Xicheng District in central Beijing, Back Lakes (Houhai) is a neighborhood and one of the three lakes that make up Shichahai, along with Front Lake (Qianhai) and West Lake (Xihai). This popular area is known for its lakes, traditional hutongs (alleys) and courtyards, and a lively mix of trendy boutiques, restaurants, and bars. The Basics
Enjoy leisure activities on the lake and explore the traditional hutongs and courtyards of Back Lakes during the day. At night, the area turns into a popular nightlife destination, with plenty of bars and live music for entertainment.
Houhai is featured on a number of sightseeing tours. Choose a daytime tour to see the hutongs, and also stop at attractions such as the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, or 798 Art District. Evening tours focus on the famous nightlife here and may also take in views of illuminated landmarks such as the Bird’s Nest, Drum Tower, or the National Theater. Many tours include a meal, ranging from Peking duck to hot pot, dim sum, or Xinjiang cuisine. For a full experience, consider add-ons such as an acrobatics show or a Beijing Opera performance. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- It’s free to enter the Houhai area, but some hutongs may charge a fee for a tour.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes as the neighborhood is best explored on foot.
- Visit by day and by night for the full Houhai experience.
Back Lakes is located in central Beijing. By subway, take line 8 to Shichahai Station or line 6 to Beihai North Gate. A number of buses also stop nearby, including at Gulou (Drum Tower) and Beihai North Gate. When to Get There
The Back Lakes area is a buzzing neighborhood for shopping and outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, and kite flying by day and a popular nightlife destination in the evening. In the winter, it’s possible to ice skate on the lakes when they freeze over. Highlights of Back Lakes
There’s plenty to see in the Back Lakes area. Top highlights include Bell and Drum Tower, Silver Ingot Bridge, Lotus Lane, Ya‘er Hutong, Prince Gong’s Mansion, and the Former Residence of Soong Ching-ling.