West Lake Scenic Area
Bordering hills on three sides and neighboring downtown Hangzhou on one side, West Lake forms the centerpiece of Hangzhou. With quite a mix of islands, pavilions, villas, courtyards, boulevards, arched bridges, hills, parks, museums, shopping streets, boutique restaurants, monasteries, lagoons and tea plantations, West Lake Scenic Area is bound to quench any thirst for authentic Chinese culture.
Top Ten Scenes of West Lake
Among them, Spring Dawn at Su Causeway, Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden, Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake and Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge’s beauty can be appreciated all year round. Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow and Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, as their names suggest, should be visited at sunset or on moonlit nights. Sights not subject to seasonal and weather changes are Orioles Singing in the Willows, Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds and Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill. All of these sites are either linked by tree-lined boulevards, causeways, or hiking-friendly trails. To get the best of West Lake’s Ten Scenes, visitors can walk or borrow a free public bike.
New Top Ten Scenes of West Lake
They include Precious Stone Hill Floating in the Rosy Cloud, Heavenly Wind over Wushan Hill, Clouds Scurrying over Jade Emperor Hill, Dreaming of Tiger Spring at Hupao Valley, Nice Creeks Meandering through a Misty Forest, to name a few. The bamboo-lined Path at Yunqi studded with pavilions, pagodas, giant trees and rare flowers, sparkle as Hangzhou’s best summer resort and hiking trail. Visitors can time their visit to coincide with autumn to experience the trail and fragrance-saturated air. For bird watching fans, one of the three islands of West Lake, the unspoiled Lord Ruan’s Mound Submerged in Greenery, is a haven for birds and urban dwellers. Fishing and night views are its draw cards.
Two Ancient Causeways across the Lake
West Lake is spanned by Bai Causeway and Su Causeway, which resemble two flowing ribbons. With weeping willow trees and dazzling peach blossoms, Bai Causeway’s beauty reaches its pinnacle during early spring. The embankment was named after Bai Juyi, a renowned poet and governor of the Tang Dynasty. A stone’s throw from the Shangri-la Hotel is the Su Causeway, which spreads out on a north-south axis and is dotted with six arched bridges. The millennium-old boulevard was the result of thousands of laborers’ painstaking dredging efforts. Spring Dawn at Su Causeway, one of the Ten Scenes of West Lake, epitomizes the prime charm of this causeway. Through the rest of the year, one can still derive much pleasure by biking or hiking along this picturesque lake.
North of West Lake
There are nine icons dispersed haphazardly along the northern bank of West Lake, from the most famous to the lesser-known. They are: Yue Fei’s Temple and Tomb, Precious Stone Hill, Baochu Pagoda, Yellow Dragon Cave, Zhejiang Library, Baopu Taoist Temple, Ge Hill and Purple Cloud Cave.
With exuberant trees, it is a perfect summer resort. Filled with assorted activities including dancing, singing and Yue opera performance all year around, it shines as a hub of activities. Not far from Yellow Dragon Cave is Zhejiang Library, the fourth largest library in China. Among its collection of 4.7 million books invaluable treasures, including block-printed editions dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties and rare hand-copied books. Baopu Taoist Temple is the only one of its kind in Zhejiang province and is a good place to sample Taoism undisturbed.
West of West Lake
Main attractions including Lingyin Temple, Peaking Flying from Afar, Three Temples at Tianzhu, Hangzhou Botanical Garden, Visiting Lingfeng for Spring Mume Blossoms and Jade Spring might beckon for those wanting to savor enticing natural scenery and the allure of Buddhism.
Lingyin Temple, a 1,700-year-old prestigious pilgrimage destination, offers an authentic glimpse into the mysterious divine world of Buddhism. Opposite, sits Peak Flying from Afar, where visitors can see over 340 life-size and vivid stone statues. Hangzhou Botanic Garden is famous for mume blossoms during winter, fluorescent colored carps all year around and chrysanthemum exhibitions held each autumn.
South of West Lake
The south bank of West Lake is strewn with a network of sights. Among which, Pagoda of Six Harmonies, Song Dynasty Town, Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies, Bamboo-lined Path at Yunqi, and Westlake International Golf & Country Club sparkle.
Pagoda of Six Harmonies, a statuesque and ancient pagoda, is striking in appearance and rich in history. Ascending the summit, you will be rewarded by a breathtaking panoramic view of the mighty Qiantang River and the sprawling high rises gracing its southern bank. Qiantang River divides Hangzhou both physically and culturally. It is a transitional area where history meets modernity.
To nature lovers, Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies and Bamboo-lined Path at Yunqi with its unspoiled environment and fresh air is a perfect spot. Encompassing 186 hectares (460 acres), the Westlake International Golf & Country Club has two international-standard 18-hole golf courses, a two-way driving range, a golf clubhouse and hundreds of villas nestled under a canopy of trees.
East of West Lake
West Lake’s east bank features the fewest attractions. Phoenix Mosque, Confucian Temple and Hangzhou Steles and Water City Gate Park are places worthy of half a day’s exploration.
Impression West Lake
The best way to appreciate Hangzhou’s culture and history in a short time is to watch one of its best shows. Impression West Lake is one of China’s Top Seven Shows. It features the local culture of the city and the unique charm of West Lake. It is world-famous for its dreamlike show, musical celebration, and fantastic elegance. Impression West Lake also highlights the beautiful landscape of West Lake. The entire performance of Impression West Lake is on actual water and uses hills as the performance background.
The background music of the performance was created by world-class musician, Kitaro Matsuri. And the theme song is performed by Zhang Liangyin, a popular Chinese singer with a heavenly voice.
Hangzhou was China’s capital during the Southern Song Dynasty more than 800 years ago, and Hangzhou’s Hefang Street has many shops, restaurants and taverns that represent its place in history. Hefang Street has stood the test of time, surviving through the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Today it is still a prosperous marketplace. Most of the businesses and shops at Hefang Street are more than 100 years old. Hefang Street wasn’t only the heart of old Hangzhou but was also the commercial center in ancient China.
Walking along Hefang Street, visitors can enjoy shopping and snacking. Known also as the Snack Street for the diverse food it serves, Hefang Street clearly concentrates on cuisine from all around the country, while simultaneously highlighting local flavors. This place is a paradise for street food junkies. People eagerly dart from stall to stall, buying snacks and treats and munching away as they seek out the next interesting flavors with which to indulge their palates.
Hefang Old Street also showcases a variety of unique Chinese crafts, such as land-blown sugar candy, paper-cutting and hand-made dough figurines. You’ll also find a large variety of local snacks, such as roasted walnuts and “dragon-whisker” candy. The street is full of art hawkers, candy sculptors, pillow shops, caricaturists, old-fashioned movie players, storytellers, bonsai shops, teahouses, and an array of small eateries, making Hefang Street both vibrant and whimsical.
Xixi Wetland Park
Xixi National Wetland Park is China’s first and only national wetland park, which combines urban , farming, and cultural wetlands. But water is the soul of the Xixi National Wetland Park. About 70 percent of the area is covered with water which creates a special habitat for various species of plants and animals. Six creeks crisscross the park, along with ponds, lakes and swamps with water-birds flying about and fish freely swimming in them. Reed catkins in the autumn and plum blossoms in winter are also its highlights.
Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal
There are two wonders in China, one is the Great Wall, and the other is the Grand Canal. For its size and grandeur, the Grand Canal has always been regarded as the pride of Chinese people and a symbol of Chinese cultural achievement. As the earliest, greatest and longest artificial river in the world, the Beijing Hangzhou Grand Canal is of great historical and cultural importance.
Though some parts of the Grand Canal have been blocked, the Jiangsu-Zhejiang portion remains open for transportation. Many scenic spots and historic sites along the canal have made it a popular tourist route.
Here are some of its tourist attractions that are not to be missed:
The Park of Fuyicang Site
Gao’s Private Garden
The Historical Culture Street West of the Gongchen Bridge
The Canal Plaza
The Walking Street on Taizhou Road
Private Houses along the Canal-side Straight Street
The Leisure Walking Street on Dadon Road
The Cityscape Belt on the Eastern Canal Bank
The Historical Preservation Belt on the Western Canal Bank
Longjing Tea Plantation
A visit to Hangzhou won’t be complete without an afternoon spent in Longjing Tea Plantation, where Longjing Tea, China’s best green tea, thrives.
Centered on Phoenix Hill, Longjing Tea Plantation, spreads out lavishly across 240 hectares (almost 600 acres). The mist and clouds that envelope this area year around lend it a sense of mystery and lush beauty. Along its base rest 8 villages, including Longjing, Manjuelong, Jiuxi (Nine Creeks), Wengjiashan, Yangmeiling, Shuangfeng and Maojiabu. In these tea villages, visitors can pick fresh Longjing Tea, marvel at the tea cultivating process and enjoy the most authentic tea ceremony.
The favorable geological conditions, agreeable climate and mineral-rich soil are keys to Longjing Tea’s impeccable quality and enduring legacy.