Hangzhou Travel Guide

West Lake

Metal work, Xiaoying Island
Metal work,
Xiaoying Island

Long considered one of the scenic wonders of China, covering over three square miles (8 sq km), West Lake (Xi Hu) is situated at the heart of Hangzhou. Surrounded by gentle green hills, the lake’s willow-shaded causeways and fragrant cover of lotus blossoms have long been an inspiration for artists. Originally the lake was an inlet off the estuary of the Qiantang River, becoming a lake when the river began to silt up in the 4th century. The lake had a tendency to flood, so several dykes were built, including the Bai and Su Causeways. Hiring a private boat from the eastern shore for an afternoon on the water is highly recommended, as is a leisurely stroll along the shady causeways.

West Lake - Hongzhou

Su Causeway
The longer of the two causeways takes its name from the Song-dynasty poet, Su Dongpo, who also served as governor. Linked by six stone bridges, the causeway is a peaceful thoroughfare running along the lake’s western edge.

Su Causeway bridge on a misty West Lake, Hangzhou
Su Causeway bridge on a misty
West Lake, Hangzhou

Bridge to Quyuan Garden
This bridge leads to a stunning garden surrounded by lotus flowers. It is considered one of the ten prospects from where the lake can be seen to best advantage.

Bai Causeway
Named after the 9th-century poet-governor Bai Juyi, this dyke leads to Gu Shan, an island first landscaped during the Tang dynasty, and now containing a tea house and the provincial museum.

Xiaoying Island
Often called San Tan Yin Yue Island, referring to the three moon-reflecting pagodas off its shores, Xiaoying Island consists of four enclosed pools fringed by pavilions first built in 1611. The zig-zagging Nine Bend Bridge was built in 1727.

Huagang Garden
This garden is intended as a place for viewing fish. Designed by a Song-dynasty eunuch, its pools are filled with shimmering goldfish in a restful setting of grasses and trees.

Three Pools Reflecting the Moon
Three small stone pagodas rise from the waters near Xiaoying Island. At full moon candles are placed within and their openings are covered in paper to create reflections resembling the moon.

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China Tours including trips to Hangzhou