Hutong and Houhai in Beijing, China

Tue, 06/12/2011 - 11:59am
Read Time: 1.9 mins

Flight Centre travel expert Moana McRae from our Rotorua store has just returned from China. In this blog post, Moana shares with us her most amazing experience whilst in Beijing exploring the Hutong and Houhai area.

In Beijing, Hutong are lanes or alleys formed by lines of siheyuan (traditional courtyard residences). The alleys give a wonderful glimpse into the world of yesterday in Beijing. While visiting the Beijing Hutong, you can appreciate the dramatic changes that the rest of Beijing has undergone from Olde World living to glass laden skyscrapers.

Upon arrival in the area you will see rows of Rickshaws with many drivers ready to take you exploring. The Rickshaws are quite comfy and can easily accommodate two people. We travelled through daylight hours and passed the lakes in the Houhai area.



The Houhai area is stunning during the day and even more so in the evening. We returned to the Houhai area in the evening where the lake was still and the hive of activity electric. Restaurants and bars frame the lake with their bright lights and signs. The odd street vendor stops to sell you laser lights, and candy floss stalls are numerous.

Spend some time walking the entire area before you settle on a place to start. The range of dining options is extensive from fine dining options to snacks and street food make sure you look around as the decor of the eateries does not dictate the standard of food as we found out.

The first bar we sat down at was called “Home”. Such an amazing place to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of Houhai. The bar has couches and cushions outside with patio heaters keeping you warm on a cool night. Most bars have live singers that switch between English and Chinese songs. The drinks are reasonable with beer, wine and cocktails on offer. We opted for the Follow Me Home cocktail - a rather potent concoction but worth a try.

After a while we scouted around for a place to eat and after avoiding a few less appealing restaurants we stumbled across Nuage, a Vietnamese restaurant.  It was one of the most amazing meals I have ever had and the restaurant itself is beautiful. Our waiter had studied in New Zealand for two years so that connection made for an informative evening. His recommendations were perfect. The duck dish can easily feed two people followed by the caramelized pork with quail eggs. I suggest getting a few dishes and sharing them if you have a group, as we left barely making a dent in ours.

After dinner our waiter took us on a tour of the restaurant. Spread over four levels the restaurant has an area for Vietnamese dining, Chinese fusion, Private functions and an outdoor balcony. We were fortunate enough to be given access to the balcony with views over the Lake and beyond to the Forbidden City. The sights were surreal - for any traveller to Beijing being able to experience the views that we saw will instantly capture their love for the city and no doubt have them returning again and again.

Looking for more information on China Holidays or cheap flights to Beijing or Shanghai? Contact Flight Centre travel expert Moana McRae in our Flight Centre Rotorua store or one of Flight Centre’s 135 stores nationwide. Phone 0800 24 35 44

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