The most famous attraction in Hangzhou is West Lake (Xi Hu /sshee
hoo/). West Lake is man-made and created after the Chinese love for
garden style parks for recreation.
Hangzhou's West Lake Scenic Area, in the southwest of the city,
covers 60 square kilometers (23 square miles), of which West Lake
itself occupies 5.6 square kilometers (2.2 square miles).
It was originally the center of the city, but now the Qiantang
River is becoming the central feature as the south bank is
developed in similar fashion to Shanghai’s Pudong District. West
Lake is a place of tranquility where urbanity becomes a silhouette
on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround it on
the other three sides. The occasional pagoda and Chinese-style
arched bridge add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways, verdant
islands and hills.
To admire the beauty of West Lake, visitors can leisurely bike
around the lake, or take a short cruise on the lake. Contact us to
customize a Hangzhou tour. West Lake is considered as one of the
best biking routes in China. See our biking tours
The lake has a diameter of about 3 kilometers (2 miles) and a
circumference of 15 kilometers (9 miles). There are three causeways
or bridges across the lake and three man-made islands named San
Tang Yin Yue (Three Pools Mirroring the Moon), Huxin Ting (Mid-Lake
Pavilion) and Ruan Dunhuanbi (Ruan’s Mound, after the Governor of
Zhejiang in 1800, Ruan Yuan).
Ten Scenic Sites of West Lake
1. Spring Dawn at Su Causeway
Spring Dawn at Su Causeway tops the list of the ten best known
sights in Hangzhou. The causeway was built during the Northern Song
Dynasty by Su Dongpo (1037-1101), a great scholar and famous poet,
and was named after him. Stretching 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles), it
includes six bridges and is heavily sheltered by green vegetation.
When spring comes, the whole causeway is blanketed by peach
blossoms and weeping willows, creating an especially charming
2. Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard
This particular scene has earned its name from the fact that it had
an abundance of lotus plants growing along its shores, which was
known as Crooked Courtyard. It was also the location of a winery.
The "perfume" produced by the combination of the scent of lotus
flowers and wine, to which was added the scent of the cool breeze
from the lake, was said to be positively intoxicating. Though the
winery is no more, the cool evening breeze from the lake still
blows and the lotus plants still thrive along the shores of Crooked
Courtyard, which has been converted into a public park.
3. Autumn Moon over Calm Lake
This scene is seen from the western end of Bai Causeway. The
teahouse with its cement terrace bounded on three sides by water,
became one of the traditional places to view West Lake, especially
on Mid-Autumn night when the moon is full and bright, so it was
named as "Autumn Moon on Calm Lake". This scenic spot covers an
area of 6000 square meters (7176 square yards). Various garden
plants and flowers intermingle with pavilions and platforms.
4. Melting Snow on Broken Bridge
The most romantic, in origin, of the ten scenic sites is surely the
one called Melting Snow on Broken Bridge. According to legend,
Broken Bridge, which is not really broken, but is a traditional
arched stone bridge, is the site where two lovers, Xu Xian and a
beautiful maiden, who is actually a white snake, met and fell madly
In early spring, when the snow begins to melt, it melts on one side
of the bridge first, due the fact that the other side is in shade,
which gives the bridge a split image. Viewed from a distance, it
looks as if one half of the bridge has been ripped off, since the
snowy side blends perfectly in with the surrounding landscape
(hence the bridge's name)
5. Listening to Orioles Singing in the Willows
During the Southern Song Dynasty, an imperial garden, featuring
especially weeping willow trees - which is almost always the
perfect complement to a seascape - was built on this site. The
imperial garden has since become a public park, replete with
pavilions, bridges and lawns, and of course the orioles still visit
the willows, where they sing as beautifully as when the emperor
came here to listen to their song.
6. Viewing Fish and Lotus Fronds at Flower Pond
This spot is located at the southern end of Su Causeway. A clean
stream flows from Huajia Hill to join West Lake here, and many
flowers grow where the fresh water flows in, so it called "Flowery
Harbor". This area now has been made into a 22 hectare (54 acre)
park with many varieties of trees and flowers, featuring a peony
garden which blooms in April and a goldfish pond which is the
famous site for viewing fish.
7.Sunset Glow over Leifeng Pagoda
The stone arched bridge is at the eastern end of the Bai Causeway.
The legendary tale of Lady White Snake took place here. After a
snowfall, the snow on the sunny side melts first, while snow on the
shaded side still lingers. Looking from afar, the bridge appears to
be broken, thus the name.
8. Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds
Most visitors to West Lake are so fascinated by the lake itself
that they often don't notice the surroundings. At the site called
Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds, visitors are advised to also lift
their gaze from the lake's surface and behold the view on the other
side of the lake, where one is rewarded by the sight of two
mountain peaks, separated by the short distance of about five
kilometers, at the northern rim of the lake.
On certain days with low-lying clouds, or on other days when a
low-lying fog is present, it is as if these twin peaks pierce
through the clouds, the fog, etc., hence the site's name.
9. Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Mountain
This site, like most of the other sites at West Lake, is to be
enjoyed to its fullest under certain specific conditions; Evening
Bell Ringing at Nanping Mountain, as the name suggests, is to be
enjoyed at dusk, when the sun slowly sets, its softened rays
casting their multi-colored reflections on the surface of the lake.
At this hour the huge bell of Jingxi Temple peals, its clear,
forceful sound reverberating across the lake, as if amplified in
the still evening air, calling for humility and reminding Buddhists
of their age-old religious heritage - and indeed, reminding anyone
who experiences this beautiful setting of his or her ultimate
smallness within the larger scope of things.
10. Three Pools Mirroring the Moon
Three miniature stone pagodas, which act like beacons, built over
800 years ago and 2 meters in height, are the centerpiece of the
scenic spot called "Three Pools Mirroring the Moon". To the west of
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon Island stand rounded hollow stone
pagodas with five round holes like windows around the top and
bottom levels. On the night of the Mid-Autumn festival, when the
moon shines full and bright in the sky, a candle is lit inside each
of the pagodas. The light from the holes and the moon cast their
reflections on the water, hence the name.
Tour Packages to Visit West Lake
- Shanghai to Hangzhou Tours
- Beijing to Hangzhou Tours
- West Lake biking tour