The Houhai area north of Tiananmen Square is definitely one not to be missed on a trip to Beijing. Surrounding the Houhai Lake, this tree-lined district is popular amongst locals and tourists alike. Known as the capital’s coolest neighborhood, it’s a place where old Beijing meets the new west. Here, scores of restaurants, bars, and boutiques cater to those with a penchant for culture and style.
Once used with adjoining lakes (known also as the Black Lakes) as a passageway from the Great Canal to the Forbidden City, the Houhai area is still marked with remnants of old Beijing. Arched stone bridges, canal walls, and elaborate animal sculptures are reminders of the proximity to the palace. Years later, Houhai still holds the same charm of the past, but now boasts the best restaurants and bars in the capital.