Houhai Lake Area, Beijing
After having dinner at Congee, we took a stroll towards the lakes and found Garret bar. The first thing that was appealing to me was the couches and the laid back atmosphere. We got in and immediately got served 2 cold ones =) and then that night there was live music. The singer was singing old English songs and then a Chinese girl was singing a song in Chinese.
Dress Code: Come as you are.
HOUHAI AREA FULL OF CHINESE GIRLS TRYING TO INVITE U FOR A COFFEE AND CHARGE YOU 1000 US DAOLLARS OR BEAT U BADLY WITH SECURITY GUARDS ETC,,SOMETIMES EVEN WITHOUT GIRLS IF U GO A BAR OR COFEE SHOP THERE THEY CAN TRY TO RIP U BAD THERE ..DONT GO THERE AND BE CAREFUL ABOUT MENU,,ETC,,CHECK IT CAREFULLY..,
In just a few years Houhai has developed into one of Beijing's top entertainment districts. The brightly lit bars and restaurants line the shores of the small lake and offer a saner and more civilised night out than the somewhat seedy bars in the infamous Sanlitun district of the capital. Old Cliffie particularly enjoyed the Zoom Bar: good beer, cheap pub food, lively crowd and plenty of sport on an array of TVs.
This small bar/restaurant at the shore of lake Houbai didn't try to hail me with 'Hello, want a drink?' Also, it had just opened, at 15.00. There was an outside sitting area, just a few steps higher, looking over the water. There was a sign reading 'micro brewery beer'. I gave it a try. And it was good, good beer. Their BBQ was also good. Furthermore, some of the staff speak good English and helped me out with a telephone card and getting back by bus (which is even for Chinese people like solving a sudoku). You can call them always, they said, for help in Chinese.
Their motto: 'shut up, just drink'.
Dress Code: Come as you are!
Hou Hai bar street is a new place to be, these years, more and more people rent or buy an old house for open bars there, most of it is very quiet, you can drinking and talking with your friends, or just listen to the pop song in sofa.
The life cycle of entertainment districts is predictable. A low-rent part of town today becomes tomorrow's buzzy dining and drinking destination. Serious investors show up, as do smarter restaurants, and before long the area is overrun with bistros and martini bars. Scenemakers then latch on to another low-rent part of town—and the cycle begins again.
Visitors to Beijing will notice that the Chinese capital seems to have gone through just this of late, with formerly trendy Sanlitun giving way to the lakeside neighborhood of Houhai as the city's favored leisure zone. While Sanlitun degenerates into a graceless quarter of leather-jacketed touts and identical bars, Houhai is luring yuppie dollars with rather more modish venues.
Forerunner of this hot zone is the No Name bar, tel: (86-10) 6401 8541. Rather aptly, it has no front signage. But it is impossible to miss the tree-fronted, single-story structure if you find its neighbor Nuage, tel: (86-10) 6402 1663. Both bars were conceived by the scene's godfather, 34-year-old Bai Feng. The ex-concert cellist from Shanxi province says they came about unintentionally when he rented a house in the district. "When friends visited they really liked the setting. I then had the idea to turn [the house] into the No Name bar and café," says Bai.
There are now more than 70 small bars and restaurants in the lanes of Houhai, with more opening all the time. Some, such as Buffalo, tel: (86-10) 6617 2146, are among Beijing's funkiest. Of course, the area's popularity may well end up destroying the very qualities that led Bai Feng and others to the district in the first place. Houhai has now hit its sweet spot, busy enough to generate real buzz but not so overrun that you would avoid it—visit before it's too late. As for Beijing's next district of the month, watch this space.
Dress Code: Any clothes as long as tidy and not like a tramp
Houhai Lake is connected to Beihai Park. When I was a kid, I used to go to the park a lot and never noticed the Houhai Lake area, not even the bars. But nowadays, Houhai Lake has become so popular that young people just like to hang around there for the weekends.
Compared to another hot bar area Sanlitun bar street, Houhai Lake area to me is just pushed into a bar area. It lacked of its nature and pushed to "install" a character to itself. But Houhai Lake area is a great place to visit in the afternoon. It's so much relaxing just sitting in a bar beside the lake reading a book in an afternoon.
I don't like to go there in the evening. But during winter, people go there for skating.
Dress Code: Casual. People go there don't have very good taste of dressing. So don't worry about it. :P
My friends and I really enjoyed the HouHai Lake area, much more so than Sanlitun area. HouHai was much more upscale, newer, and trendier, and more importantly had less of the streetside begging and solicitation that Sanlitun had. We really like the bar "Sex in Da City" - good atmosphere inside, rather modern, loud music, comfortable couches, and the best/strongest drinks of any of the bars we went to.
Dress Code: I didn't notice a formal dress code, but the people seem to be young professional types
Just north of Qianhai Lake, and connected to it by a small canal, lies Houhai Lake.
Here the pubs continue to line the west shore. and at the northen end of the lake
the bars have put out sofas right by the water.
It was really nice to sit down in one of the many sofas and order out a beer or a drink and just
let everything and everyone flow right past around you.
I guess this only exist in the summer when the weather and temperature allows for it, but if you are there at that time don't forget to make time for a visit.
It was so comfortable and I was so tired the last time I was there that I wondered if I might get away with just falling asleep right there in the sofa.
In the end I took a cab back to the hostel though...
Houhai was a very elegant contrast to the seedy Sanlitun Bar district. There were many different bars and restaurants that lined the shores of the man made lake.
I went to one place...can't remember the name exactly "dragon something" anyway it had a spot light in the shape of a dragon that illuminated on the sidewalk. The place was interestingly decorated and there was good music with a small dance floor.
The area is a good spot for people watching and taking a stroll, although on my particular night there it was mysting that only added to the ambience.
Dress Code: Styling and profiling.
The shores of the Hou Hai lake are filled with terraces. There is food and drinks widely availlable from the many bars and restaurants. In front of the entrance of the Lotus Lane, the street with the restaurants, we saw lots of people dancing in the square.
A busy nightlife spot in Beijing.
Lots of open air jazz music and restaurants around.
A boat house with boats you can rent to paddle.
Watch out for the traffic jam on water though.