- Location: Hangzhou; 180 km southwest of Shanghai
- Area: 6.5 square kilometers
- Highlights: Top ten scenic spots, boat cruise, biking, photography
- Time of visit: 1-2 hours
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, West Lake, the symbol of Hangzhou, is an enduringly popular and romantic attraction all over China. As a huge freshwater lake perched in the heart of Hangzhou City, West Lake unfolds postcard-esque vistas created by the causeways, pagodas, bridges, temples, gardens, and artificial islands that curls around. Regarded as the most enchanting and loveliest park in China, West Lake undoubtedly boasts countless stunners much more than the best-known ten scenic spots, which are worthy for a couple of days to explore. Easy to tour around by walking, biking or boating, West Lake is the best place to go for a side trip from Shanghai through a short highspeed train ride.
West Lake is blessed with numerous beguiling scenic spots, among which 10 best-known scenic spots has been listed as must-sees of Hangzhou for long. Whenever you visit West Lake, you would discover spectacles corresponding to different seasons.
- Spring Dawn on the Su Causeway
- Lotus in the Breeze at a Winding Yard
- Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn
- Melting Snow on the Broken Bridge
- Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds
- Sunset Glow over Leifeng Pagoda
- Orioles Singing in the Willows
- Viewing Fish at the Flower Pond
- Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon
- Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill
Named after the celebrated scholar Su Dongpo (1037 – 1011 AD), Su Causeway is the most gorgeous spot of West Lake. Especially when the willow trees lined along the causeway sprout with green and the pink buds of peach trees come out at the dawn of the early spring, you could pace along the causeway to breathe in the fragrant scent of the air.
The ponds of the West Lake are carpeted by verdure of lotus in summer, with lovely bridges and causeways leading visitors for a close glimpse. Swaying in the gentle breeze, the pink lotus blossom and leaves inject the lake with more ease and vibe.
A small forest at the western end of the Bai Causeway is the best place to gaze at the moon over the West Lake. Especially in cool autumn, the bright moonlight casts down upon the tranquil and calm lake surface and glistens along with the small ripples.
The bridge is viewed as the most romantic spot because of the popular Chinese folk love story The Legend of the White Snake. It is an ideal site to appreciate the snowy scenery of West Lake in winter, when the bridge seems broken due to the half-melting snow.
Erecting on two sides of West Lake, two peaks echo with each other with a distance about 10 miles. With low-lying clouds or fog in the morning, these two peaks are wreathed in mists which look like two spears piercing into the sky.
Towering at Xizhao Hill in south bank of West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda is blessed with unbeatable sunset view when the glow sketches its shapely outline. Visitors can glance at this amazing scene from most locations of West Lake afar.
Flocks of orioles migrate to West Lake in spring and chirp on the willow-lined causeway, which brings lively charms to the park. It is strongly recommended to amble around the lakeside to inhale the air of spring.
It is delightful to view the goldfish cruising in the ponds, which is especially spectacular in summer when all the lotuses are in blossom. Often you could meet a shoal of red carps scrambling for food fed by locals and visitors.
Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon is a recognizable spot printed on Chinese 1-yuan banknote. There are three stone pagodas floating on the water about 2-meter-high off the shore of the mid-lake islands. They are specifically intriguing at night when lit by candles and a bright moon is overhead.
The nightfall bell of Jingci Temple at Nanping Hill is to be appreciated at dusk when the sun is setting in the west. The tuneful ringing echoes far that could be heard across West Lake, and this dulcet setting adds a charm of calmness to the entire lake.
Sightseeing Boat: Taking a cruising boat is the most classic way to admire the beauty of West Lake. By the embankment, there are more than 10 piers and wharfs offering different kinds of boats and cruise routes according to your preference. You can not only enjoy a leisure ride of the exquisite archaistic boat or kayaks, but also try the gondolas and rowing boats on your own. In summer, evening cruises are available for you to discover the elegance of West Lake veiled at night.
Battery Car (CNY40): Battery car is the easiest and most energy-saving way to capture a full view of the West Lake. It takes about 60 – 70 minutes to have an entire circle ride of 15 kilometers along the shore of West Lake, and you can get off the car at any spot that you want to explore further. Please note that the ticket is just valid for one-time ride.
Biking: West Lake is definitely a perfect scenic area suitable for a biking experience. Along the shore of West Lake is scattered with a lot of bike rental stops. Both public bikes and private bikes are provided for you to absorb the serene and charms of West Lake in a delightful way.
Walking: It is enjoyable to take a leisurely walk along the shade of willow trees lined by the waterfront of West Lake. You could sight-see the essence spots on Su Causeway and Bai Causeway at your own pace. Apart from tracing the old cultural relics and spots showing on postcards, you could also encounter local people and their laid-back lifestyle. Or you could just venture into a tea house to savor a cup of famous Dragon Well tea by the promenade.
Temple of Soul's Retreat: Aka Lingyin Temple, it is a time-weathered and long famed monastery dating back to 1,700 years ago, where you could savor the exquisite cultural relics and embark on an adventure to the Feilai peak to uncover the centuries-old Buddhist grotto art.
Meijiawu Tea Garden: Meijiawu is a renowned plantation site of the Dragon Well Tea, where you could delve into the tea garden for sightseeing and learning of Chinese tea culture.
Qinghefang: Qinghefang is a pedestrian block arrayed with shops, restaurants, tea houses and bars. You could hang out there to taste the famous dish West Lake sweet-and-sour fish and experience the vibrant night life of Hangzhou locals.
With well-developed transportation network, Hangzhou could be easily accessed from most cities of China by air and highspeed trains. It is popular for travelers to launch a short side trip to West Lake from the neighboring cities including Shanghai, Suzhou and Huangshan (Yellow Mountain).
- From Shanghai and Suzhou:
- From Huangshan:
- From Nanjing:
It is quite convenient to have a day trip to West Lake from Shanghai and Suzhou. Frequent bullet trains are in service between Shanghai and Hangzhou, with a duration of 1 and 2 hours respectively. Besides, there are continual buses to Hangzhou that allow you to reach West Lake in about 2 hours.
For nature lovers, the high speed train easily connects the breathtaking Yellow Mountain and the elegant West Lake, which makes a perfect chance to admire both.
You could plan an easy side trip by high-speed train from Nanjing to Hangzhou for a glimpse of West Lake, which takes about 1.5 hours on the way.
Subway: Take the subway line 1 to Longxiang Bridge Station, and then walk about 400 meters to reach the bank of West Lake.
1. The buses No. 4, 31, 51, 52, 87, 315, 334, 822, Y2 or Y10 lead to Su Causeway.
2. The buses No. 7, 27, 51, 52 or 118 can take you to Tomb of General Yue Fei.
3. The buses No. 27 or 87 run to the Longjing Temple.