The bohemian Houhai Lake is one of the hippest spots in Beijing. One of several lake areas near Tiananmen Square, Houhai is also known as the “back lake” and is home to scores of restaurants, bars, coffee houses and boutiques set along cobblestone lanes. Stroll along the water and over charming arched bridges as you hop from hot spot to hot spot; or hire one of the numerous rickshaws that ply the area. Even more fun, rent a two or three person bicycle to ride down Lotus Lane, the most happening street in Houhai, while the locals cheer you on.
A word of warning: when I did this with fellow travelers Carleigh and Jody, our bike seemed to be dated from Chairman Mao’s day, and we quickly discovered that the tires were half-flat and the brakes were shot, resulting in hilarious Fred Flinstone braking moves by three pairs of feet. This, of course, only added to the fun; so if you’re like me you won’t consider this a drawback. However, I’ve done my duty in the interest of full disclosure.
Insider Tip: The be-seen place in Houhai is Bar No Name, owned by cellist Bai Feng and known as the Cathedral of Cool. It has no address, either, but look for a vine-covered wooden structure by the Yinding Bridge.