Sicha Lake is a lake located in the Sicha Hai District in Beijing. This district is known as one of the most beautiful sections in old Beijing. The old Sicha Hai hutongs offer a rare glimpse of old China before modernization took over the country’s capital city, and the lake offers a beautiful natural destination for nature lovers.
The Sicha Lake is near the hutong area of the Sicha Hai District. The Sicha Hai District is one of the most popular hutong areas in the city where the past and the present blend beautifully in one quaint historical place. The area, which is located just outside of the Forbidden City, used to be an upper-class residential area and therefore has many grand buildings and remnants of the glory days of ancient Beijing.
The hutongs near the Sicha Lake were built during the Yuan Dynasty over 800 years ago. This was around the time when the Mongolians made Beijing the capital city of the country. Beijing was called Dadu during that time. The term ‘hutongs’ also came from the Mongolians themselves; it was taken from the Mongolian word ‘huttog’, which meant ‘well’. This is because when the Mongolians settled in Beijing, they dug out wells then built their houses around them.
Just before the 2008 Olympics, the Beijing government invested in improving the hutong area in Sicha Hai. The alleyways were paved, making it easier for tourists to browse around the area. The old houses were also given new facades to create a well-preserved look and feel.
The Sicha Hai hutongs leading to the lake make up a maze of alleyways that surround the scenic area encompassing the lake. The area looks like a very quaint lakeside village. As you go along the alleyway, you will see the old residences where the nobles and the rich people of Beijing lived.
One of these residences used to belong to Madam Song Qingling, known as the wife of Dr. Sun Yat Sen. Madam Song Qingling is also famous for being one of the reasons that led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Another residence in the area is that of Guo Moruo, a foremost contemporary writer in China. Guo Moruo’s residence is now a museum, so it is also worth visiting.
Not far from the area is the grand Gungwang Fu, a landmark built by He Shen, an imperial official of the Qing Dynasty.
Aside from Sicha Lake, the maze of hutongs also leads to two other lakes, the Qian Hai and the Xi Hai.
How to Get There
To get in the true Chinese spirit, ride a trishaw around Sicha Hai to get to the lake. A trishaw ride there will cost around 180 yuan, although you should try negotiating with the drivers to get a lower fare.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the Sicha Lake and the Sicha Hai area is during the day so you can see the lake in its natural beauty.
Travel Tips and Reminders
The area around Sicha Lake has since become highly commercialized, so while the lake itself may offer timeless natural beauty, be prepared to see a different side of Beijing before you get there. The area is now full of pubs, restaurants, and small boutiques, which can be useful for when you have some shopping to do.