West Lake (Xi Hu) in Hangzhou
Attractions Overview: Landmark of Hangzhou; one of Top 10 Attractions in China
Attraction Type: Lake, Nature & Cultural, World Heritage Site
Chinese Name: 西湖
English Name: West Lake, Xi Hu
Best Time to Visit: All Year Round
Recommended Visiting Time: 1 Day
Open Hours: All Day
Admission Fee: Free
Address in English: No.1 Longjing Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou, China
Address in Chinese: 杭州市西湖区龙井路1号
Why is West Lake So Special?
The very definition of classical beauty in China, West Lake is utterly mesmerising: pagoda-topped hills rise over willow-lined waters as boats drift slowly through a vignette of leisurely charm. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2011 by UNESCO, West Lake is the only lake heritage site in China. UNESCO describes it as “has influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries”. West Lake is also a perfect example of the harmony between man and nature.
Where is West Lake?
How to Get to West Lake?
Travel with China Dragon Tours (top recommended)
If you want to get rid of hustle of transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to West Lake with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on travel.
For independent travelers you can
From Railway Station: you can take public bus, subway or taxi to get there. While Hangzhou South Railway Station is one hour drive from West Lake, and you can take subway to get there.
From Airport: West Lake lies about 30 km from the airport, tourists can take the shuttle bus from the airport to get to Wulin Gate (2km from West Lake), then transfer to public transportation to get there; or tourists can take a taxi or private car, the drive will take about 1 hour.
From Hangzhou City:
1. Take bus 4, 31, 51, 52, 87, 314, 315, 334, 822, jy6, y2 or y10 to Sudi (Su Causeway).
2. Take bus 7, 324, 807, j1, or y2 to Lingyin.
3. Take bus 7, 27, 51, 52 or 118 to Yuemiao (Tomb of General Yue Fei).
4. Take bus 27 or 87 to Shuangfeng or Longjingsi (Longjing Temple).
5. Take bus 7 or 25 to Hubin.
Take metro line 1 to Longxiangqiao. Upon arrival, walk westward to reach the Lakeside Park (Music Fountain) or northward to Broken Bridge or Bai Causeway.
Or take the same metro to Ding’an Road. Upon arrival, walk westward to lakeside Nanshan Mountain area or southward to Wushan Mountain area.
Main Attractions in West Lake
Leifeng Pagoda is also known as HuangFei Pagoda and Xiguan Brick Pagoda. Leifeng Pagoda is the oldest colorful bronze pagoda in China. On the top of the pagoda, tourists can enjoy the whole view of the West Lake, especially when the sunset glows over the pagoda. It is also a good place for photographing.
Built in 1921, the single-span Broken Bridge is 8.8 meters (9.6 yards) long, and 8.4 meters (9.4 yards) wide. There is a love story about Broken Bridge, the love story between Bai Suzhen and Xu Xi’an. It is one of the best-known love stories between a mortal man named Xu Xian and a white snake spirit named Bai Suzhen. They fell in love with each other when they first met on a boat on the West Lake, and got married very soon. The marriage, however, was opposed by Fa Hai, who is monk. He insisted that the marriage between human and snake spirit was forbidden, and imprisoned Bai Suzhen in Leifeng Pagoda. Years later the couple was rescued by Xiao Qing, the sister of Bai Suzhen. From then on, Bai Suzhen and Xu Xi’an lived together happily. Because of the moving story, the lake becomes an ideal place for dating.
In 1090, Northern Song Dynasty, Su Shi(苏轼), a famous poet, built the causeway inside the West Lake. There are six bridges on the causeway, which are named Yingbo Bridge (映波桥), Suolan bridge (锁澜桥), Wangshan Bridge (望山桥), Yadi Bridge (压堤桥), Dongpu Bridge (东浦桥) and Kuahong Bridge (跨虹桥) from south to north. In order to commemorate Su Shi, later generations named this causeway “Su Di (Su Causeway)”. The Su Causeway is the only channel connecting the north and south banks of the lake. It’s the best place to see the whole lake.
Best Time to Visit West Lake
Formed at Southern Song Dynasty, there are 10 top scenes at West Lake Scenic Area. They are Dawn at the Su Causeway in Spring (苏堤春晓); Lotus Swaying in the Breeze (曲院风荷); Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn (平湖秋月); Melting Snow at Broken Bridge in Winter (断桥残雪); Orioles Singing in the Willows (柳浪闻莺); Fish Viewing at the Flower Pond (花港观鱼); Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset (雷峰夕照); Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds (双峰插云); Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill (南屏晚钟) and Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon (三潭印月).
Dawn at the Su Causeway in Spring
Su Causeway(Su Di) is the best place to see the whole lake. Since its construction in the Northern Song Dynasty, Su Causeway has maintained the tradition of planting peach trees and willows along both sides of the causeway. The spring dawn is the best time to enjoy the “Su Di spring dawn”. At this time, the mist, the weeping willows and the peach blossom, showing the beautiful of the West Lake.
Winery Yard and Lotus in Summer
Located at the north end of the Su Causeway, on the north bank of the West Lake, is the winery yard and lotus. It is said that there used to be a winery surrounded by lotus flowers in the Southern Song Dynasty. The fragrance of the lotus and the aroma of wine waft coherently through the summer air, hence the name. It is said that people might get drunk by the mixed aroma of lotus and wine in summer breeze.
Moon Over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn
Located at the west of the Bai Causeway by the West Outer Lake, is the famous scenes Moon Over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn. The weather is mainly sunny in autumn evening in Hangzhou and the temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius. There are little particulates in the air. The pleasant climate at this time makes the moon seem to be particularly large, bright and especially round. Tourists can enjoy the beautiful moonlight, and feel the atmosphere of traditional Chinese culture.
Melting Snow at Broken Bridge in Winter
In the Broken Bridge area at the east end of Bai Causeway in the north of West Lake, tourists can find the Melting Snow at Broken Bridge in winter. Built in 1921, the single-span Broken Bridge is 8.8 meters (9.6 yards) long, and 8.4 meters (9.4 yards) wide. When seen from the Baoshi Mountain after snow, the bridge seems as if it were broken because the snow in the middle part has melted while the snow at the ends is still lingering.
Useful Travel Tips
- Take a cruise to visit some of West Lake’s islands. There are many kinds of boat, including large painted boats, small rowing boats, and even self-rowing boats. Cruises are available day and night.
- The most popular biking/walking avenues are Su Causeway and Bai Causeway. These two causeways allow you to see most of the lake’s scenery.
- Enduring Memories of Hangzhou: It is a large-scale performance in the Yuehu Lake Scenic Area. It focuses on the ancient folklore between Xu Xi’an and Bai Suzhen. The first performance lasts from 19:45 to 20:35, while the second one lasts from 21:15 to 21:05.
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