Shichahai is a scenic area in the northwest of Beijing that’s home to three lakes – Qinghai, Houhai, and Xihai. Dating back to the Jin Dynasty, Shichahai was once an important commercial district but is now an area for recreation. The government in Beijing declared it a Historical and Cultural Scenic District in 1992.
Shichahai literally means ‘Ten Temple Lake’, and there are indeed ten famous Taoist and Buddhist temples in the area. There are also a number of places of historic interest and remnants of old-style royal mansions, including the Prince Gong Mansion and the Prince Chun Mansion. A rickshaw ride through Shichahai’s winding narrow laneways (known as hutongs) is a popular way to see the cultural attractions of the area.
Despite its historical backdrop, these days Shichahai is more known for its lively bars and restaurants, plus its vibrant lakeside atmosphere, where locals and visitors play sports and games in the wide open spaces.
As it’s close to the Bell and Drum Towers and the north gate of Beihai Park, visitors can take buses from central Beijing in this direction and spend some time in Shichahai from here.