Lakes and Rivers in Beijing

If you know where to look, Beijing is a city of wonderful lakes and relaxing rivers. In fact, the Forbidden City was built next to a beautiful lake called BeiHai to take full advantage of the cooling wind sweeping over the lake in summer. Essentially, the lake itself determined where the Forbidden City would be, which is now the epicenter of China's capital city. Above BeiHai is HouHai, a more popular tourist spot because it is fringed in bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and cafes. A beautiful and stunning nighttime walking area, HouHai has become one of Beijing's most beautiful water spots.

Hou Hai offers many attractions, from a walking hutong and lakeside tour to sailing on the water and, in winter, ice-skating. You'll find endless rafting and people-watching opportunities on HouHai and, if you are not into water you can simply shop around the edges, enjoying the view.

Around the Forbidden City is a moat that served as a line of defense for the city, but which today offers beautiful water-side photography between Jingshan park and the palace. One of Beijing's most iconic pictures is of that very moat.

In summer, when the royalty of olden days couldn't take the city heat, they would vacate the Forbidden City and head north to the Summer Palace, a massive complex atop a hill near a large lake. The lake cooled the compound, making it the perfect summer retreat.

If you still haven't gotten enough of Beijing's water activities, head to the Aquarium, located inside the zoo which has several lakes and rivers of its own to boast of. The Aquarium is the perfect way to round out your water-tour of the city, with a glimpse of what is under the surface rather than reflected on it.


expert pick

Hou Hai Lake

Yan Dai Xie Jie

A beautiful and romantic lake circled in classy bars and restaurants... read more

Bei Hai Gongyuan (Beihai Park)

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Wenjin Jie 1
Xi Cheng Qu (south entrance is just west of the north gate of the Forbidden City; east entrance is opposite the west entrance of Jing Shan Park)

Beautiful Park with Historic Buildings... read more

Jinhai Lake, Great Canyon and Limestone Caves

Ping Gu County

One of the top eight sights around Beijing...
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Shuixiang Renjia

Lotus Lane
Hou Hai

Boating on Hou Hai... read more

Xiang Shui Lake

East of Da Zhen Yu Village, Bo Hai Town
Huai Rou County

Scenic spot with caves and springs... read more

YanQi Lake

Near the Greatwall at Mutianyu
Huairou County

Swim, fish or boat on the lake... read more

Gui River Rafting

Gui River, Yan Qing County
Yanqing County

Float down the Gui River... read more

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Forbidden City (Gu Gong)

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North of Tiananmen Square
Dong Cheng District

China's greatest imperial palace complex... read more

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Beijing Aquarium

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Xi Zhi Men Wai Avenue
Just inside the zoo's north gate

Fishy viewing... read more

Summer Palace (The)

Beiqing Road

Historic Imperial Residence in Park Setting...
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