West Lake Travel Guide
Among 36 lakes in China named the West Lake, but this one in Hangzhou is one of the most famous tourist attractions.
Originally a lagoon adjoining the Qiantang River, the lake didn´t come into existence until the 8th century, when the governor of Hangzhou had the marshy expanse dredged. As time passed, the lake´s splendour was gradually cultivated: gardens were planted, pagodas built, and causeways and islands were constructed from dredged silt. The poet Su Dongpo famously personified West Lake as a young woman whose beauty was enhanced by her elegant dress. The Baidi and Sudi split the lake into five sections. The largest part is known as the Outer Lake and it is bounded by the North Inner Lake, Yuehu Lake, West Inner Lake and Lesser South Lake.
Su himself had a hand in the lake´s development, constructing the Sudi during his tenure as local governor in the 11th century. It wasn´t an original ideal--the poetgovernor Baijuyi had already constructed the Baidi some 200 years earlier. Lined by willow, plum and peach trees, today the traffic-free causeways with their half-moon bridges make for excellent outings, particularly on a bike.
Connected to the northern shores by the Baidi is Gu Hill(Gushan), the largest island in the lake and location of Zhejiang Provincial Museum. Zhongshan Park. The island´s buildings and gardens were once the site of Emperor Qianlong´s 18th-century holiday palace and gardens.
The smaller island in the lake is Lesser Yingzhou Island where you can look over at Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, three small towers in the water on the south side of the island: each has five holes that release shafts of candlelight on the night of Mid-autumn festival.
A lot of specific features can be singled out as worthy of particular note. To the south of center of the Outer Lake, there is a man made island known as the Island of Little Oceans, that encloses four small lakes. From here you can view the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon when at night candles are lit in stone lanterns jutting out of the water thus creating the impression of the reflections of three moons. The scene is truly magical on the night of the Autumn Moon Festival.
For centuries, the West Lake has been well known both for its picturesque landscape and for cultural heritage surviving yet illustrating the past dynasties. The landscape area of the West Lake includes the surrounding hills and nearby historical sites as well as the lake itself. The lake area covers around 60 square kilometers consisting of 5.68 square kilometers of water area.
Can be reached by bus No.K4, 27, 504, or by tourist bus No.1, 4, 5, and 7.
Recommended time for a visit: three and half hours.