Houhai, Beihai, Lama Temple


A charming area North of the Forbidden City, with lakes and old-style hutong neighborhoods. A great place to see what Beijing used to look like.

I think of this area as the place where the backpackers and English-teacher types hang out; people looking for “authenticity” in a city that has very little left. It’s one of the few areas of the city that you might describe as delightful, and there are lots of old neighborhoods to explore. Head down a narrow alley and you’ll find people living in the same way Beijingers have for generations, in hutong courtyard houses.