Houhai is newly developed old town of funky nightlife full of small bars and restaurants with different characters around the lakes. Most cafes and restaurants are individual owned not major chains.
It is a great place to stroll in the summer nights or days. A little cold and windy during the autumn and winter. Day time is good also but more lively at the night time. You can have drinks, coffee or tea at many places or just enjoy the lakes or watch peoples. The price is on the pricy side; average drink may run you US$ 10.
There is no direct access by subway to Houhai. The closest station may be at the Gulou 鼓樓 station exit SW “B” and walk south on Old Gulou Dajie 15 to 20 minutes. You can enjoy see all the little shops or hutong on the way. Gulou itself is a diamond shape island right on the middle of an intersection. Where the Old, West, East Gulou Dajie and Dianmenwai Dajie meets. Make sure go in the Dianmenwai Dajie 地安門外大街 and walk 100 meter or so on the right is a historic alley Yandai Xie jie 煙袋科街 about 20 feet wide, very
easy to missed. There are only walls on both sides of the alley at the entry point. Follow the street lined with little shops will bring you right in the middle of Houhai.
I took a bus from my apartment is easier but the bus run infrequently. It is a long wait on the stop most of the time, the plus side is no transfers and drop right in front of the south entrance in front of the Starbucks. That is a good place to meet too if you come with more than one taxi. There are many entrance points if not arrange ahead of time the drivers may drop you off at different places. The south entrance is the only one face a major street.
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