Restaurants, live music, and the lake; what more could you possibly ask for in an evening? Houhai Lake offers all of the above listed things and more. When you travel to Beijing, I guarantee you will not experience an area in any other part of Beijing quite like Houhai Lake. Comparable to South Beach in Miami, Houhai Lake area is one of the most fun areas that I have visited in Beijing. When you make plans to  travel to Beijing, Houhai Lake is an area that you should take time out of your schedule to go visit. Houhai Lake is not only a great tourist attraction, but also an area where you can experience many of the local cuisines and music.

Houhai Lake is located in the Gulou area of Beijing and is a great place to spend an afternoon outdoors. During the summer, you have the ability to rent paddle boats or to ride in a boat with someone rowing it for your group. Tickets are relatively inexpensive and the boat rides typically last for about an hour and take you all around the lake. Similar to Houhai Lake, Beihai Lake also offers these same activities. Both lakes are relatively close together and both attractions can be visited in one day. These lakes are an immense amount of fun and I would go to both if the option is a possibility.

Along with renting boats or riding in a row boat, Beihai Lake has one of the largest Chinese Gardens in the area, which is beautiful to see as are the lily pads floating in the water. It also contains a place called Bai Ta or as we may know it, the White Pagoda. Its body is made of white stone. Sun, moon and flame engravings decorate the surface of the tower. The White Pagoda is situated on the highest point in the area and offers a three hundred and sixty degree view of Beijing. The view is absolutely amazing and mirrors the beauty that the rest of the park has to offer.

When you travel to Beijing and visit Houhai Lake and Beihai Lake, I recommend that you visit the lakes in the later portion of the afternoon and start at Beihai Lake. If you begin at Beihai and see the garden and White Pagoda, you can then make your way down to Houhai area and walk around to the different street vendors. They sell everything ranging from clothes to fried scorpion. If you are feeling adventurous, they not only sell fried scorpion, but also fried sea horse. I myself am not that adventurous and stuck to the food the restaurant had to offer me, but if you want a chance to try some of the “local cuisine,” there are many street vendors selling a variety of foods. The options for restaurants with a lakeside view are endless. You can eat anything ranging from Chinese food to American food. We chose a restaurant offering both and although it was a relatively pricey meal, the atmosphere more than accounted for the price we paid. After dinner, you can walk around and listen to the live music that many of the bars and cafes have to offer and enjoy the scenery simultaneously. Visiting the Houhai Lake area made for an amazing afternoon and evening!

Jack Li
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