Houhai is the area around the Houhai lake including its hutongs. It is arguably one of the nicest areas of Beijing and a magnet for tourists and everyone else. The pull of the scenery has also created a lively bar and restaurant scene around Yingding Bridge, frequented by foreigners and local Chinese alike.
The little bridge in middle is Yingdingqiao
What modern China may be all about
There may not be many other places in Beijing where things modern and things traditional blend so well. On the one hand you have the ancient architecture of the hutongs, the Drum and Bell Towers, and the Forbidden City in the vincinity. Wherever you go you feel as if history was alive and kicking. And then you will look around you and see a generation of modern Chinese living it up in bars and restaurants, driving home in their sedans and sports cars. If you feel like exploring, however, walk off the beaten tourist trail and check out the more local areas. You will feel as if you have arrived in another, simpler world but beautiful nonetheless.
Houhai features a lively bar and restaurant scene
The Houhai hutongs
You will find some of the nicest hutong areas around Houhai. As per definition of its architecture, you will not be able to look inside unless you are lucky and daring enough to have someone leave the door open and you going inside to have a look. And if you are even luckier, a cosmopolitan oasis may present itself to you. I say if because many of the once so proud buildings have been purpose separated among several families and are now quite messy.