West Lake, in the center of Hangzhou, has been a top tourist attraction in China for centuries, having been immortalized in Chinese literature and art and appearing in countless landscape paintings and poems. While it may not have the same serene qualities that once attracted great philosophers and nature lovers, there’s no denying that West Lake is still an attraction of immense beauty that should not be missed.
What to Expect
Hangzhou is a modern city absolutely teeming with life, but in the midst of it all there’s West Lake and its tranquility. Surrounded by greenery, cycling trails and walking paths, the customary itinerary is to walk around the lake stopping to visit the many temples, restaurants and museums that surround the lake.
The east side of the lake is closest to the city and it’s lined with luxury restaurants and attractions like laser-light shows and dancing fountains. The north side is more remote and has a few pagodas and the burial mounds of General Yue Fei. The big attraction on the southern side of the lake is the Leifeng Pagoda, the top of which offers spectacular views of the lake.
Don’t miss an opportunity to watch the sunset over West Lake from the eastern side of the lake. Treated as a daily light show of sorts, the sunset sees thousands of spectators flock the shores of the lake to enjoy the colorful reflections on the water.
Who Will Love It
Most travelers will greatly enjoy their trip to West Lake. From boat tours on the water to long walks down shaded paths, there’s a lot to like. Those interested in the cultural significance of the sites surrounding the lake will no doubt have an even better time.
Who Will Be Disappointed
Those expecting a tranquil experience in nature will most likely be disappointed. Like most other tourist sights in China, West Lake has seen a significant boom in recent years and the addition of tourist-oriented shops like Starbucks, Baskin-Robbins and more. More so, travelers who aren’t in good physical shape may find it difficult to walk around the lake in Hangzhou’s intense heat.
Get off the beaten trail a little bit and explore the tea growing fields to the southwest of West Lake on Longjiang Road. This area is world famous for its Longjing Tea and travelers can visit some of the small tea-growing villages to watch the farmers in action and taste some of the heavenly tea.