Introducing West Lake
Among the world’s best rated lakes, Hangzhou’s wondrous West lake cannot be rivaled. The real attraction of Hangzhou West Lake, however, lies not on the surface, but in its abundant wealth of legend, myth, and enigma accumulated over various dynasties. Due to Hangzhou West Lake’s historical and cultural significance, Hangzhou West Lake was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. UNESCO quotes that: Hangzhou West Lake is an outstanding example of a cultural landscape that displays with great clarity the ideals of Chinese landscape aesthetics, as expounded by writers and scholars in the Tang and Song Dynasties. The landscape of Hangzhou West Lake has had a profound impact on the design of gardens, not only in China, but further afield, where lakes and causeways have imitated the harmony and beauty of Hangzhou West Lake. The key components of Hangzhou West Lake still allow it to inspire people to project feelings onto the landscape. The visual parameters of this vast landscape garden are clearly defined, rising to the ridges of the surrounding hills as viewed from Hangzhou.
West Lake Fast Facts
• Chinese Name: Xihu 西湖
• Best Time to Visit: All year around
• Recommended Visiting Hours: About 2 to 3 hours
• Things to Do: Photography, History and Culture, Nature
• Opening Hours: All day
• Entrance Fee: Free, Sightseeing Car: ¥40
• Address: West Lake Scenic, Xihu District, Hangzhou
What to expect at West Lake
Throughout China, there is no other lake which has caught the imagination of so many poets, scholars, painters, sculptors, calligraphers and even emperors over so long a time. Blessed with enchanting natural scenery and an enduring cultural legacy immortalized by a multitude of poems, calligraphy masterpieces, paintings and sculptures, Hangzhou West Lake’s boundless charm is not only a visual spectacle, but also an experience felt by the heart.
To depict Hangzhou West Lake’s surreal beauty, Su Dongpo wrote in his poetry:
The shimmering ripples delight the eye on sunny days.
The Dim hills present a rare view in rainy haze.
West Lake compares to Xi Zi at her best.
She is gorgeous richly clothed or plainly dressed.
This poetry does full justice to Hangzhou West Lake’s beauty. Resplendent with temples, museums, islands, villas, tea houses, memorial halls, pools, arched bridges, pagodas, monasteries, and casual walkways lined with classic willow trees, the culture-laden Hangzhou West Lake, a consummate performer, is destined to bewitch, mesmerize and overwhelm each visitor taking in its beauty.
The legendary origin of this beloved lake, has various versions. One of the most famous sayings holds that a dazzling pearl fell from heaven and morphed into an instantaneous paradise in Hangzhou. Geologists, however, put forward a less romantic view. They state that Hangzhou West Lake was once a lagoon near the mouth of the Qiantang River. What we see today is the action of lasting dredging efforts over the past millennium.
There are many classic tales of love and woe set at Hangzhou West Lake, among which Lady Snake White and Liangshanbo and Zhuyingtai stand out as the two most famous.
Ten Scenes of West Lake
There are many beautiful landscapes in the lake area, and the following are the most famous Top Ten Scenes.
• Dawn at the Su Causeway in Spring
• Lotus Swaying in the Breeze
• Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn
• Lingering Snow over the Broken Bridge in Winter
• Orioles Singing in the Willows
• Fish Viewing at the Flower Pond
• Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset
• Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds
• Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill
• Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon
How to get to West Lake
Take Metro Line 1 to Longxiangqiao. Then walk to the lake.
• Take bus 4, 31, 51, 52, 87, 314, 315, 334 or 822 to Sudi Station.
• Take bus 7, 27, 51, 52 or 118 to Yuemiao Station.
• Take bus 27 or 87 to Shuangfeng Station.
Additional travel advice on West Lake
• Visiting the lake is free of charge. Some of the attractions in the scenic area charge admission fee.
• The West Lake Musical Fountain is to the east of the lake. Fountain shows open at 19:00 and 20:00, and each show lasts for around 15 minutes. Please be there in advance and take care of your belongings as there will be many tourists during the show time.