Back Lakes (Hou Hai)

Back Lakes (Hou Hai), Beijing: Address, Phone Number, Back Lakes (Hou Hai) Reviews: 4.5/5

Back Lakes (Hou Hai)
Bodies of Water • Neighborhoods
Read more
Write a review
This area of Beijing contains some of the most extensive old hutong neighborhoods and the three lakes of Xihai, Houhai and Oianhai.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
Top ways to experience Back Lakes (Hou Hai)
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

1,456 reviews
Very good

Dan M
Tel Aviv, Israel14,577 contributions
Aug 2016 • Couples
Well you can't get bored in Hou Hai !

Shops of all kind, souvenirs, clothes, antiques (I have at last succeeded there in finding an authentic copy of the little red book of Mao)...

But especially pubs, coffee shops, restaurants and eateries of all style and cuisine:
the western chains of course like the inevitable Starbucks, but also and as always traditional Chinese restaurants, fusion and many more.

We were lucky and the weather was fine so it was altogether a nice place to be and enjoy the evening ...

One negative side however ... some parts were kind of bottlenecks and really overcrowded but besides that it was ok.

I hope the pictures I have attached will succeed in giving you the feeling of the place...

I did really prefer it rather than Sanlitun for the diversity of the attractions this place offers and therefore warmly recommend it...
Written October 19, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Los Angeles, California16 contributions
The Back Lakes are easily the most photogenic part of Beijing, save the old Forbidden City. While the modern city of Wangfujing Street is unspectacular and the even-more-modern city of the new CBD bears little resemblance to the China you imagine, the Back Lakes offer great restaurants, a lively bar scene and interesting scenery. Go for dinner, stay for a drink, and then leave-- late at night, the area is trolled by prostitutes looking for Western men.
Written January 4, 2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tony K
Hilo, HI59 contributions
Jun 2013 • Business
The individual businesses and attractions need their own pages (but they don't), so this will be for the area.

My friends and I visited the hutong (authentic, old, local) across the street. THAT was its own experience. I highly recommend visiting a real hutong. I digress.

We got a map from the "Official Tourist Office." The Hou Hai area information was all written in Chinese so we thought it wasn't for us. But when we looked over there it looked like fun! So we went anyway.

Wow! Good thing we went. It reminded me of a destination mall in Las Vegas.

The open area near the entrance was full of people. Some locals selling trinkets. Other locals playing games with those trinkets (ping pong, hacky sack, etc.) And even more playing on some drum/cymbals.

Walking further in we saw a tons of restaurants and bars. In hutong around Hou Hai there are shops and more restaurants. We ended up at a bar on top of a building. Very basic, but cold beer, cool view, grilled food items, and live music. What else do you need?

It looked like you could rent a paddle boat and cruise the lake.

At night the place is electric. Many, many, many bars. Neon lights were everywhere. I have a great photo of the group with the neon reflecting off the water.

There aren't many "cultural" experiences to be had at night in Beijing. Spend one night here and just take it in. While it is touristy, it's NOT Americans who are here. WAY more Chinese tourists were here, which also makes for an interesting experience.

Google translate is your friend. :-)
Written January 25, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Vanderbijlpark, South Africa2 contributions
Jun 2012 • Couples
We caught a taxi from the Regent Hotel in Beijing at around 5pm and walked along the busy waterfront. Had a drink at one of the open air pubs over the bridge and were thoroughly entertained watching locals & tourists. We took note of the popular restaurants and made a good choice later. The meal was great! One word of warning, make sure you have the correct form of payment. Our cards were not accepted, but fortunately had cash on us. It was after 11pm when we caught a taxi to return to our hotel. That was when our next set of problems began. We were conned by two taxi drivers. The first one did not have a meter running, wanted to charge us double and accused us of paying with counterfeit notes. We had the same problem with the second taxi, but we were getting anxious to get back to our hotel. We paid what he wanted and reported everything to the hotel on our return. My husband had left his wallet in the taxi and on contacting the company concerned, it was found the driver had a false number displayed on the dashboard. We also discovered we had been robbed of RMB600 by them swopping good notes for counterfeit.
Do not take a taxi that does not have a meter running and note the registration number for safety sake. This will not detract from the great experience we had in Beijing.
Written July 1, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Los Angeles, California116 contributions
Jul 2013 • Business
I had heard about this place, Houhai, from my previous trips to Beijing. It sounded interesting, so when colleagues asked to grab a drink, I suggested we go there. BTW, the word "hai" literally means ocean or sea. Of course this was not by the ocean. But they often call a lake "hai", Houhai literally translates to Back Ocean, but its actually lake, hence Back Lakes.

We went at night, so I couldn't comment on how it looks during the day. But as everyone said, its very happening at night, but lots of restaurants and tons of bars. Most bars have indoor and outdoor sitting, all around the lake. Most bars have bands playing live music. They tend to sing American songs, some Chinese songs, and mostly Taiwan songs (not Taiwanese language, but songs originated from Taiwan). Some bars are smaller, some are bigger. Again, tons of them, and at night, with their signs lighting up the sky.

Beer was anywhere RMB20-40. Some people say they are expensive. I don't disagree, but you'd expect that in a touristy area. When we first arrived, this guy tried to get us to his joint (since I was with a white colleague, the local guy really tried to get us into his joint). I kept telling him, its ok, we will just walk around. He kept following us to the end section, and we didn't go into his bar. I guess the good think was he didn't bother us that much. This place is not as tricky as Sanlitun, where they tell you a beer is 40 but they charge 60 service charge. But from my experience in Sanlitun, I did ask, "do you charge service fee"? They didn't.

So if you have never been to Houhai, I would recommend you at least come once, check it out, get a drink. Its a nice place, and the scenery is nice too with the lake, although you cannot see much at night cuz the lake is dark. There are little boats that go on the lake, but I don't know when they stop that at night. So visit there have a drink and listen to some music.

One thing, afterwards, its hard to get a "regular" taxi to leave the place. Taxis know that is a tourist place so many taxis turn off their metering and just ask for a flat rate. This is of course slightly more expensive. Just want to advise you on that.
Written August 12, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Shian L
Singapore, Singapore22 contributions
Jul 2013 • Couples
not recommended, too touristy. there are agents trying to pull you into their bars and their drinks are way too expensive. if you are a foreigner they will try even harder to scam
Written August 12, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Washington DC, DC33 contributions
Hou Hai is the new hot spot in Beijing's night life scene. Many bars/restaurants are located here with a very Chinese atmosphere. The buildings are of the old Beijing style, giving you a sense of history and culture of the Middle Kingdom (i.e. the direct translation of China). Many of the bars/restaurants have live performance. Compared to the night life hot spot Xintiandi in Shanghai, Houhai is more folksy and down to the earth.

Sanlitun used to be the hip place to hang out at night. However, it has been plagued with drugs and prostitution in recent years. Upper class Pekingese ditched Sanlitun for Hou Hai several years ago. Of course, another type of clientele may be attracted to Sanlitun more so than before.

Hou Hai is very close to Bei Hai Park. So it can be a great place to visit after a visit to Bei Hai Park during the day.
Written July 2, 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Daly City, California, United States155 contributions
Mar 2013 • Friends
Right to the north of Bei Hai park this is a place where you have to go during your Beijing trip at night.

If you enter from the south you'll walk along a beautiful lake that you could ride a small boat in. Definitely a great place to spend a romanic night.

The food here is quite expensive but it is worth the atmosphere.

If you come during the day you can go see Song Ching Ling residence, Gong Wang Fu and Mao Guo Rong residence are all nearby this area. Also, you can go browse and shop at Yan Dai alley way.

At night there are a few bars that are quite friendly and there is a good mix between Chinese and international in the air.

The pedicabs are friendly and it's nice to ride around just once for the feeling of traveling through the Hutongs and along the lake.

There are also some funny things to a monk with two beautiful ladies.

If you look white and gullible be warned that there are girls that will try to trick you and will pull off that they are studying english or also traveling Beijing.

Have fun but don't get drunk make sure you have a buddy with you.

Beijing Hou Hai nightlife<--Something you need to experience here if you've never been to Beijing
Public bathrooms might be dirty go into a restaurant to use one
Take a pedicab ride and a boat ride!
Go at night and see people sing awfully at karaoke! See the bar and restaurant scene
Written September 11, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Salzburg, Austria16 contributions
May 2013 • Couples
Really cool experence and perspective to rent a paddle boat just before the sun goes down. The lights and sounds from the bars can't be beat. The price for the paddle boat was resonable, however I wouldnt plan to make a night in this part of the city if you are on a budget. Granted we did not price around, but the rooftop restarant that we went too right off the bridge was overpriced and the food quality left much to be desired. If we did it again we would eat before coming down to the area and instead just grabbed a drink or two from one of the rooftop bars and takein the area.
Written May 17, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Toronto, Canada1,031 contributions
Oct 2012 • Solo
I used the itinerary set out in the Eyewitness Travel Beijing & Shanghai guide as a starting point, and began at the Jishuitan subway station (exit C) and headed south down Xinjiekou Bei Dajie.

I have to admit to missing the odd turn, and occasionally had to double back, but sometimes the additional scenery was excellent. There are a large number of music shops along Xinjiekou, and when I hit Café 85, I turned left onto Huguo Si Jie, which featured some rather interesting store fronts, and eventually the Mei Lanfang Memorial Hall which I quite enjoyed. Farther east was the Prince Kung Mansion which is well worth a visit, and then a scenic walk along the side streets to the lake and on to the bridge. There is a nice commercial strip here with some interesting restaurants, and then I headed north to visit the Soon Ching Ling Museum. This is a bit of a hike north, and is not on the Eyewitness route. Returning to the bridge (and going back to the suggested route), I made my way over to the Drum and Bell Towers.

This spot ends the Eyewitness tour, and I then headed east to connect up with Andimgmen Inner St. On the way north back towards my hotel I found an inexpensive and unassuming diner, Home Restaurant, and had a spicy and tasty Kung Po Chicken with rice for only 22 RMB. Staff here were pretty accommodating for my lack of Mandarin, and I'm glad I stopped in.

This was a lot of walking, but I saw some really amazing sights along the way and thoroughly enjoyed the day. I spent a lot more time than the suggested two hours on this tour. Best done with comfortable walking shoes, enjoy!
Written November 9, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Showing results 1-10 of 534
Anything missing or inaccurate?
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Frequently Asked Questions about Back Lakes (Hou Hai)

We recommend booking Back Lakes (Hou Hai) tours ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. See all 290 Back Lakes (Hou Hai) tours on Tripadvisor

Attractions near Back Lakes (Hou Hai): View all attractions near Back Lakes (Hou Hai) on Tripadvisor