Shichahai – Ticket, Opening Hours, Highlights, and Tips

Shichahai

Shichahai (什刹海) is a scenic area located in the Xicheng District of Beijing, China. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful lakes, traditional architecture, and cultural heritage.

The area consists of three interconnected lakes – Qianhai, Houhai, and Xihai, which are surrounded by historic buildings, traditional hutongs, and scenic parks. The lakes are especially beautiful at night when the lights reflect off the water and illuminate the surrounding buildings.

Shichahai has a rich cultural history and has been a center of politics, culture, and commerce in Beijing for centuries. Many famous historical figures have lived and worked in the area, including emperors, scholars, and artists.

Today, Shichahai is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, who come to enjoy the beautiful scenery, explore the historic buildings, and sample the local food and drinks. Visitors can take a boat ride on the lakes, visit the historic Drum and Bell Towers, or simply stroll along the narrow hutongs and admire the traditional architecture.


Table of Contents


Basic InFormation

Estimated Length of Tour1 – 3 hours
Ticket PriceFree
Opening HoursThe area is accessible 24 hours a day. Most shops operate from 9.00 am to 8 pm and bars from 4.00 pm to 6 am the next day.

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Location and transportation

Shichahai is situated to the northwest of the Forbidden City, north of the Beihai Park and Jingshan Park, and east of Nanluoguxiang. You can reach there in various ways.

Bus

  • Take Bus 3, 4, 13, 42, 107, 111, 118, or 612, get off at Beihai Beimen Stop (The north gate of Beihai Park 北海北门), and you will be standing at the south entrance of this area.
  • Take Bus 5 or 135, get off at Denei Ganshuiqiao Stop (德内甘水桥), and you will be standing at the east entrance of the area
  • Take Bus 55 or 31, get off at Deshen Mennei (德胜门内), and the entrance will be to your east

Subway

  • Take subway line 8, get off at Shichahai Station, and walk about 50 meters to the west to reach the area.
  • Take subway line 6, get off at Beihaibei Station (北海北), and walk about 200 meters to the east to reach the area.
  • Take subway line 2 or 19, get off at Jishuitan Station (积水潭), and walk about 50 meters to the east to reach the area.

HIghlights of Shichahai

Historic Hutongs

historic hutongs in shichahai

The historic hutongs of Shichahai are narrow alleyways lined with traditional courtyard houses that date back to the Yuan Dynasty. These winding streets offer a glimpse into traditional Beijing life, with residents often seen sitting outside their homes socializing, playing games or doing daily chores. The hutongs are full of local food vendors, small shops, and vibrant community life. Some hutongs have been renovated and turned into cafes, art galleries and boutique hotels, while others retain their original charm.


Houhai Lake

houhai lake in shichahai

Houhai Lake is one of three interconnected lakes in Shichahai and a popular destination for both tourists and locals. Surrounded by historic buildings, trendy bars and restaurants, and beautiful gardens, it offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors can stroll around the lake, rent a boat, or sit at a lakeside cafe and enjoy the view. In the evening, the area comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene, making it a popular spot for socializing and entertainment.


Prince Gong’s Mansion

Prince Gong’s Mansion is a historic residence located in the heart of Shichahai. Built in the 18th century for one of Emperor Qianlong’s ministers, it is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture and design. The mansion boasts intricate carvings, painted ceilings, and beautifully landscaped gardens, providing a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the imperial family during the Qing Dynasty. Visitors can tour the mansion and learn about the history and culture of the time. The museum also houses a collection of ancient artifacts and artwork.


Drum and Bell Towers

drum and bell towers in shichahai

The Bell and Drum Towers are two of the most iconic landmarks in Shichahai. They were built in the 13th century during the reign of Kublai Khan and were used to keep time for the city. The Bell Tower was rung at dawn to signal the start of the day, while the Drum Tower was beaten at sunset to signal the end of the day. Today, visitors can climb to the top of the towers for panoramic views of the surrounding area. The towers are also home to cultural exhibits that showcase the history and significance of the towers in Chinese culture.


Yandai Xiejie

yandai xiejie

Yandai Xiejie is a charming and historic street located in the heart of Shichahai. The street is lined with traditional courtyard houses and shops that sell a wide range of Chinese handicrafts, souvenirs, and antiques. It is the perfect place to pick up a unique memento of your trip to Beijing. The architecture of the buildings and the narrowness of the street have remained largely unchanged for centuries, providing a glimpse into the city’s past. Visitors can enjoy strolling through the street, admiring the traditional architecture and browsing the many shops.


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Useful Tips Summarized from Reviews

Recommended Route:

  • Start at the intersection of “Deshengmennei Street” and “Xihai South Bank”.
  • Begin by visiting the former residences of Soong Ching-ling and Prince Chun.
  • Exit the prince’s residence to find the “Liuyin Zhengdu Wharf”. Take a boat ride to enjoy the scenery along the banks and experience the feeling of ancient emperors traveling from the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace by boat.
  • Remember to buy some bread to feed the ducks.
  • Recommend disembarking at the “Dibaixiang Pier”. This area is the liveliest part of Shichahai with various food stalls and specialty shops. It’s just a 5-minute walk to “Yandai Xiejie”, a famous street known for its unique charm.
  • Take a pedicab ride along the route near Prince Gong’s Mansion, passing through numerous alleys while listening to stories from the pedicab driver about the area’s history spanning several centuries.

Boat Rentals: There are various types of boats available for rent. A 4-person pedal boat costs 150 yuan per hour, while an electric boat costs 220 yuan per hour. For a 6-person pedal boat, the cost is 200 yuan per hour, and for an electric boat, it’s 280 yuan per hour. There may be a deposit requirement of several hundred yuan.

Transportation: If taking a taxi to Shichahai, make sure to specify Shichahai Subway Station as your destination. It’s the closest station to the bridge for viewing the sunset.


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