HouHai ('Hou lake') is situated between QianHai and XiHai, just north of QianHai. HouHai is in the center of the tradional hutong area of central Beijing. Around the south and along the west side of HouHai are a variety of teahouses, cafes, bars and boutiques that combine modern and traditional elements in their unique designs. There are also some cafes, restaurants and bars on the east side.
HouHai is popular daytime and evening with small shops in hidden alleys and lots of rickshaws passing by. In the evening, trendy lighting and neon mixes with traditional red lanterns to create a lively yet relaxing atmosphere.
If you take a rickshaw tour around the HouHai area, there are two historical spots that you are very likely to visit. China's last emperor, Puyi, was born in a mansion near HouHai. Another courtyard house (SiHeYuan), in this case a very large one, was the longtime residence of Song QingLing, the wife of Sun YatSen. Both these mansions are now museums. The expansive gardens and ponds provide a glimpse of what life was like for the privileged before the Communists, who officially frowned on such extravagance. Then there is Prince Gong's Mansion (WangFuGong) that is detailed in its own section of this guide. A short distance to the east lie the Drum and Bell Towers. Not far to the north west is the massive DeShengMen Gate, just across the second ring road.
There are plenty of charming bars along both sides of HouHai also, especially around the southern end and you will still find interesting places even as you stroll further north to where HouHai meets XiHai ('West Lake').
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