Travelling is always a great experience and a great opportunity to gain insight into the culture and traditions of the country you are visiting. So apart from the tourist attractions it’s interesting to see the different aspects a place has to offer. Therefore it’s nice to see the crowded and the quiet places, the tourist areas and residents’ daily life. When you travel to Beijing you have the opportunity to see all this and in many Beijing hotels it’s literally surrounding you.

To see some historic spots, Beijing’s daily life and to have a relaxed time, Shichahai is a very good place to go to. The area is situated north of Beihai Park surrounding three man-made lakes, the so called Xihai (West Sea), Houhai (Rear Sea) and Qianhai (Front Sea). It is a very popular area for residents as well as tourists and like other parks almost an oasis within the city. With the great view on the lakes and the relaxing atmosphere around the water you can almost forget that you’re still in the city center.

Around the three lakes there are plenty of bars and restaurants right at the shore to sit down for a while and enjoy a refreshing drink in the heat. For an even better view many of those have a second floor where you can practically sit on the roof for a slightly different perspective from above. This bar street is open until late at night. So it’s a great spot during day time but also at night when the lights of the city create a different atmosphere.

Along the shore there is a playground, so it’s suitable for younger kids and several places where you can rent bikes for a tour around the lakes. But be aware that on nice days it’s very crowded and the roads are full of people, bikes, rickshaws and others. Especially Houhai and Qianhai, the middle and the southern lake, invite to a boat tour. At different places around the lake you can rent boats and take a tour on the water.

In earlier times these three connected lakes were an important part of the waterways to transport goods by boat from the Grand Canal into the city. Of all three lakes Xihai is the least crowded one and therefore worth a visit. It seems more relaxed and somehow more original than the others. But apart from the relaxing aspect the whole ares also offers enough opportunity for sightseeing.

Right around the lakes you can visit several mansions and residences, for example the Song Qingling Mansion, which has been turned into a museum. Song Qingling was the wife of Sun Yatsen, the first president of the Republic of China. And the famous Prince Gong Mansion can be found  west of Qianhai and is a very interesting place to see. From the south gate at Qianhai it’s also not far to the Drum and Bell Tower and around the area are great places to see the original hutongs, Beijing’s typical residential neighborhoods which can be found throughout the center. So there are several places that can easily be combined in a Beijing tour.

Jack Li
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