Night View of Shichahai

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“Shichahai”, literally “Ten Temple Lake”, actually refers to a large historical area (147 hectares) including the present three lakes – Houhai (Back Lake), Qianhai (Front Lake) and Xihai (West Lake) in the north of the central Beijing.

There used to be 10 temples in the area, hence the name of “Shichahai”. Some of the temples are still there, including Guangji Temple, Huitong Temple, Huoshen Temple, Guangfu Guan ( a taoist temple ), etc.

Acclaimed as “Historical and Cultural Scenic District” by the municipal government of Beijing in 1992, Shichahai has become one of the much-visited place equivalent of other highlights in Beijing such as Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and the Great Wall of China.

Shichahai is a place where modernity meets tradition – historical hutongs and courtyards; trendy bars and restaurants. It is also a scenic area with willow lined lakes – boating in summer and skating in winter.

Shichahai is a delight to explore either on foot or by bike. You’ll need 2 0r 3 hours to savour the picturesque Shichahai which is often referred to as “Houhai” by foreign visitors.

Shichahai in different seasons or at different times of a day give you different views and activities. Shichahai at night is most attractive with great fun – neon lights, crowded and bustling, stuffed with all manner of bars, restaurants, stalls and gifts shops. It is an entertaining place to browse. In a word, Shichahai is an ideal hangout on your Beijing night tour no matter you seek for fun or try to immerse yourself into an authentic Beijing atmosphere.

Now follow me for a photo tour of Shichahai in the evening.

Shichahai can be effortlessly reached by subway 6 and you get off at the station of North Beihai (北海北) and exit B, you are just on the southern edge of Shichahai. Shichahai is a large sprawling area with many entry points. My favorite entry is Lotus Market, a 5-minute walk to the east from the station of North Beihai (北海北) of Subway Line 6.

Let’ start with Lotus Market. The present Lotus Market is a restoration of the historical one which was famed for snacks with Beijing flavors and antiques. Now the market is a row of one or two-story buildings randomly connected, home to cafes, bars and restaurants. Marble handrails are built on the water sides of Houhai ( Back Lake).

This is the decorated archway ( Pailou), the south entry into the market street. The Lotus Market was named Shichahai Tea and Bar Commercial Street by Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce in 2004.

This is the decorated archway ( Pailou),

This is the decorated archway ( Pailou),

The first building is the traditional architecture housing a Starbucks store.

The traditional architecture housing a Starbucks store

The traditional architecture housing a Starbucks store

The east side of the bar street is the west bank with marble handrails of the southern Houhai Lake. The brightly lit Houhai Lake looks a fairyland with water street lined lights reflected on the water.

Houhai Lake looks a fairyland

Houhai Lake looks a fairyland

The waterfront bar and restaurant street of Lotus Market resembles casinos with delightful neon.Most of the buildings in the bar street are two-story wooden or shikumen architectures that are lit up and colorfully decorated. It is a pleasant stroll along the street flanked by bars or restaurants on the west side and the bank of Houhai Lake on the east side.

Two-story wooden or shikumen architectures

Two-story wooden or shikumen architectures

The two-story wooden cafe restaurant offers fairly good western food.

The two-story wooden cafe restaurant

The two-story wooden cafe restaurant

Here you also can have Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant and Beijing local food stalls and gifts shops.

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant and Beijing local food stalls and gifts shops.

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant and Beijing local food stalls and gifts shops.

In summer and autumn, boating on Houhai or Qianhai is quite romantic with a good fun. Boating on Houhai or Qianhai.

Boating on Houhai Lake or Qianhai Lake

Boating on Houhai Lake or Qianhai Lake

At the end of the bar and snack street in the Lotus Market, you turn right and continue to walk along the bank of Houhai Lake, you can find more choices of bars and restaurants.

The bar has an interesting name known as Morning Wine and Night Dance.

The bar has an interesting name known as Morning Wine and Night Dance.

The bar has an interesting name known as Morning Wine and Night Dance.

A mutton hotpot restaurant near Yinding Bride straddling Houhai Lake and Qianhai

A mutton hotpot restaurant

A mutton hotpot restaurant

 

The Houhai Lake here becomes narrower, close to Yinding Bridge which divides the two lakes – Houhai Lake on the east and Qianhai Lake on the west. The famous Kaorouji Restaurant has its neon-like reflection on the water.

I stand on Yinding Bridge, looking at Qianhai Lake flanked by all manner of bars on both banks of Qianhai Lake.

Qianhai Lake flanked by all manner of bars

Qianhai Lake flanked by all manner of bars

Walk north from Yinding Bridge and turn right, you enter the famous Yandai Byway. For more information and photo tour of Yandai Byway, check out the link: Night View of Yandai Byway.

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Beijing Dinner & Night Boat Tour. from US$ 59P/P

Beijing by Night Illuminations Tour  from US$33 p/p

Beijing Hutong Highlight One Day Tour  from US$59 p/p

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

For any questions, just drop a line.

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