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  • Shichahai Tour
    Shichahai Tour
  • Lotus Market in Shichahai
    Lotus Market in Shichahai
  • Western-Styled Building
    Western-Styled Building
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Covering an area of 147 hectares, Shichahai is a scenic spot in the north of central Beijing, near the north-gate of the Beihai Park. It consists of the following three lakes: Qianhai, Xihai and Houhai. In imperial times it was called the Riverbank.

You may find that nearly all the water areas have the name 'hai' which means sea, for example, Beihai, Zhongnanhai and Shichahai. It is said that this has something to do with nomadic Mongolians. Generations of Mongolians lived in inland areas where they called a water area 'hai' or 'haizi' meaning lake instead of sea.

Shichahai dates back to the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234) when the water area of Shichahai was called 'haizi'. It consisted of Xihai, Qianhai and Houhai which were unknown to the public. From the time of the Yuan Dynasty (1279 - 1368) it was the northernmost part of the Grand Canal linking Hangzhou in the south to Beijing in the North of China. Because of this the Shichahai area used to be the most important commercial district with all kinds of activities going on. 

With Beihai Lake becoming an imperial backgarden, some 20 temples were built in the area of Shichahai Lake. It was said that these temples were established for the convenience of women to leave the imperial families. 'Cha' refers to a small temple while 'shi' can mean 'tens', hence the name of Shichahai.

Beijing Shichahai Map
Shichahai Map

Currently, there are ten famous Taoist and Buddhist temples and several formal royal mansions and gardens remaining around the lake. The most well known are the Prince Gong's Mansion and the Prince Chun Mansion, the residence of Soong Ching Ling, wife of Dr Sun Yat-sen and China's late honorary president, the residence of Guo Muruo (poet), and the residence of Mei Lanfang (great master of Peking Opera).  

In the evening, standing on the Yinding Bridge provides the best view of Shichahai Lake. In summer, visitors prefer to go boating on the lake and songs and music. Some young people like to float small paper boats with lit candles inside on the water. All of sudden, it gives the feeling of boating on the Qinhuai River in Nanjing

Compared with the hustling-bustling scenes during the daytime, Shichahai is quiet at night. The small bars here are exquisite although they don't have showy names. They attract those people who know how to enjoy the tranquility of night. On summer nights, it was a really special treat to chats with friends over tea under the dim light inside a small bar by the lake, sitting next to a window. Occasionally you may hear gossip in the pure Beijing dialect of local grandpas and grandmas living in the nearby hutongs, strolling past while shaking a cattail leaf fan with a hand; or the bicycle bell of some young people returning home late, all breaking the quietness.

 Entrance Fee: Free

 Bus Routes: 
A. Take Bus No. 5 and get off at Di'anmen
B. Take Bus No. 13, 42, 107, 111, 118, 701, 810, 823 or 850 and get off at North Gate of Beihai.

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