This scenic area contains the largest and best-preserved age-old block in the city. In the Yuan Dynasty it was the capital's center for commerce. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was home to many high officials and men of many letters. After the Manchu takeover, the emperor-led Pure Yellow Banner Troops were stationed here. In 1992, the Standing Conference of the Beijing Government named it a scenic area of history and culture. Thereafter is was referred to as Shichahai, which is the name it has maintained to date. In 2002, the Shichahai area, which covers 1,467,000 square meters altogether, was designated as one of 25 historical and cultural protection zones of the city.

Shichahai has both a beautiful and unique scenery. A famous essay, once written in ancient times, says that during the spring it is like the West Lake in Hangzhou; yet during the summer it reminds one of the Qinghuai River in Nanjing. The poem, whose author is unknown, referred to the autumn season as a time that makes Shichahai a blissful reminder of the Dongting Lake in Hunan. Shichahai has the densest collection of cultural tourism resources, having altogether 40 historic sites under protection, with three of them under national protection. The best known among them are Prince Gong's Mansion, which used to be the residence of He Shen, the most avaricious minister of the Qing Dynasty, and the Yinding Bridge, which is known as the best place to view mountain side near the area.

Shichahai has rich historical legacies and a number of well-preserved Hutongs, Quadrangle Dwellings, mansions and gardens. It has a vast cultural heritage within the walls of the temples, halls, and distinguished former residencies which are now historical sites. These areas are harmoniously blended with natural scenery and with distinctive folk customs. In recent years, bars, homely restaurants and hotels in some Quadrangle Dwellings have began to sprout in this neighborhood, making this place more fashionable to tourists. The tradition and aesthetics of this time period attracts about five million tourists each year from home and abroad. In 2005, it was listed by the Chinese National Geography Center as one of the five best city blocks in China for 'being fashionably next door to Zhongnanhai.

1 - SHICHAHAI

SHICHAHAIThis scenic area contains the largest and best-preserved age-old block in the city. In the Yuan Dynasty it was the capital's center for commerce. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was home to many high officials and men of many letters. After the Manchu takeover, the emperor-led Pure Yellow Banner Troops were stationed here. In 1992, the Standing Conference of the Beijing Government named it a scenic area of history and culture. Thereafter is was referred to as Shichahai, which is the name it has maintained to date. In 2002, the Shichahai area, which covers 1,467,000 square meters altogether, was designated as one of 25 historical and cultural protection zones of the city.

2 - Prince Gong's Mansion

Prince Gong's MansionPrince Gong's Mansion is located near Shichahai Lake, to the northwest of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The private residence of He Shen, a favorite minister of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was built in 1777. In 1851, the mansion was bestowed upon Prince Gong by Emperor Xianfeng (1851-1862), hence the name. It is the sole prince's mansion open to the public, and is the most well preserved mansion in Beijing.

3 - Soong Ching Ling

Soong Ching LingSituated at 46 North Rive Street in the Houhai Lake area of the Xicheng District, the Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling was once a garden of one of the Qing Dynasty princes' mansions. The area along the banks of Houhai Lake is quiet and beautiful, with shady willow trees lining the streets. Water from Houhai Lake has been diverted through an underground channel into a stream that winds its way through the garden. This lovely Beijing garden is elegantly laid out with rocks and ponds set off by pines, cypresses and flowers. Winding corridors link traditional-style halls and pavilions in the garden. The tasteful layout gives the garden an atmosphere of elegant antiquity.

4 - Beihai Park

Beihai ParkWest of the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park is Beihai Park. Beihai Park is one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved of all the ancient imperial gardens in China and it is conveniently located in the very center of Beijing. Beihai literally means the "Northern Sea." There are also corresponding "Central" and "Southern Seas" — both are located in an area called Zhongnanhai. This region is also quite famous because it houses China's paramount leaders. Beihai’s ancient gardens, over 1,000 years old, reflect not only a classic combination of the grandiosity of Chinese northern gardens and the refinement of the southern gardens of China, but also perfectly integrate magnificent imperial palaces with solemn religious construction. Towering over the central islet is the 36-meter high White Dagoba, which was built to honor the visit of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1651 and is one of the more impressive sights in the skyline. Local residents can be seen using the space for Tai Chi and water calligraphy, using large brushes and water on the stone cobble. Featured Attractions: Circular City Finally you can visit the Circular City right at the southwestern corner.

5 - Deshengmen

DeshengmenBeijing Ancient Coin Museum was built near Deshengmen in Xicheng District. It is the sole coin museum in the Beijing area that opened to the outside world. It exhibits Chinese ancient coins from different dynasties through the years. Moreover, it also holds temporary exhibitions, which is the ideal activity place for the coin collecting hobbiests to research, collect and interchange.

6 - Laoshe Tea House

Laoshe Tea HouseLaoshe Tea House is a hot spot for both foreigners and expats. Spend just two hours here at Laoshe Teahouse and you'll experience the authentic lifestyle of the old Beijing. Sipping tea, munching on local snacks and watching a revue of the most popular Chinese traditional performances are just some of the things you’ll do while here. The tea house is named after the renowned Chinese writer Lao She who is famous for his drama entitled, "Teahouse", which is a vivid portrayal of the social dimensions of old Beijing.