West Lake (Xi Hu)

"Ripping water shimmering on a sunny day,
Misty mountains shrouded by the rain;
Plainly or gaily decked out like Xizi;
West Lake is always alluring."

These are the words composed by the famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo (960-1127). In this poem, he compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, one of the four beauties in ancient China. These poetic sentiments depict the charm of the lake which has always been a beautiful and romantic spot since ancient times. 

Measuring 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) in length, 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers) in width, and 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) in average depth, the lake has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers). It is surrounded by mountains on three sides and divided into the North Inner Lake, the Yuehu Lake, the West Inner Lake, the South Lake, and the West Outer Lake by the Bai Causeway, the Su Causeway, and the Yang Causeway. The Solitary Hill between the North Inner Lake and the West Outer Lake is the largest natural island. In addition, there are three man-made islands in the West Outer Lake: the Lesser Paradise Island, the Mid-lake Pavilion, and the Ruangong Islet; and two famous pagodas by the lake: the Leifeng Pagoda to the south and the Baochu Pagoda to the north.  Nowadays, the Wesk Lake is one of the top ten scenic areas in China, and was listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO on June 24th, 2011. The West Lake is famous for the romantic legends and intoxicating scenery.

Of all the legends, the most touching one is the love story between Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian. Bai Suzhen was a white snake spirit and Xu Xian was a mortal man. They fell in love with each other at first sight, and got married very soon. But the evil monk Fa Hai attempted to separate the couple by imprisoning Xu Xian. Then, Bai Suzhen fought against Fa Hai and tried her best to rescue his husband. But she failed and was imprisoned under the Leifeng Pagoda by the lake. Years later, the couple was rescued by Xiao Qing, the sister of Baisuzhen. From then on, Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian lived together happily. Because of the moving story, the lake becomes an ideal dating place for lovers.

 Top Ten Scenes
Map of West Lake
Map of West Lake (Click to enlarge)

There are many beautiful landscapes in the lake area, and the most famous are the following Top Ten Scenes.

 Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring
As the no.1 of ten scenes of the West Lake, the Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring is intoxicating and delighting. With a gross length of 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers), the Su Causeway was constructed under the guidance of the great poet Su Dongpo in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). There are six bridges along the causeway, including the Crossing Rainbow Bridge, the Eastern Lakeside Bridge, the Suppressing Dike Bridge, the Viewing Hills Bridge, the Locking Waves Bridge, and the Reflecting Ripples Bridge. There is a willow or a peach tree every certain distance. In spring, the green willow buds and the pink peach blossoms will take the breath of tourists away, hence the fame.

 Winery Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer
The Winery Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer in the northwest of the lake is a time-honored scenic spot. It is said that there used to be a winery surrounded by lotus flowers in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) there. The fragrance of the lotus flowers and the aroma of wine were spread afar by the gentle breeze in summer, hence the name of the scenic spot. Presently, the scenic spot is divided into five sections, including the Yuehu Lake, the Bamboo Garden, the Lakeside Woods, the Winery Yard, and the Lotus Pool. Tourists can enjoy various species of lotus flowers, experience the imperial wine culture of the Southern Song Dynasty, and appreciate the beautiful gardens of southern China. It will be an enjoyable and unforgettable experience!

West Lake Bridge across the lake

 Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn
The West Lake has been an ideal place to appreciate the glorious full moon since ancient times. The Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn is to the west of the Bai Causeway by the West Outer Lake. It consists of the Imperial Stele Pavilion, an octagonal pavilion, a platform over the lake, and some other buildings. The broad platform is a perfect spot to admire the full moon. In addition, there is a Xiling Calligraphy and Painting Gallery. Tourists can not only enjoy the beautiful moonlight, but also feel the atmosphere of traditional Chinese culture. 

 Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge in Winter
The Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge in Winter scenic spot is at the foot of the Precious Stone Hill to the east end of the Bai Causeway. Built in 1921, the single-span Broken Bridge is 9.6 yards (8.8 meters) long, and 9.4 yards (8.4 meters) 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 molten while the snow at the ends are still lingering. The remaining white snow is glistening in the sunshine. That is fabulous!

 Orioles Singing in the Willows
The Orioles Singing in the Willows Scene is located at the Qingbo Gate to the southeast of the Outer West Lake. It was the largest imperial garden called the Landscape Gathering Garden in the Southern Song Dynasty. Along the nearby dike are planted willows of various species. At the center of the garden is the Orioles House. Near the Orioles is a gigantic bird cage called the "Birds' Paradise". In March, tourists can appreciate the flying willow branches while listening to the warbling of orioles. That is intoxicating!

The red carp are playing in the water so happily.
Red Carp Pond

 Viewing Fish at Flower Pond
Located at the Red Carp Pond to the south of the Su Causeway, the Viewing Fish at Flower Harbor Scenic Spot is a large park of over 49 acres (20 hectares). It is made up of five scenic spots: flower harbor, the red carp pond, the peony garden, the great lawn, and groves. The whole park is surrounded by the flower harbor, a sightseeing river way which connects the West Inner Lake with the South Lake. The red carp pond at the center of the park is swarming with red carp. Tourists can lean on the rails of a zigzag bridge to appreciate them. To the west of the red carp pond are exuberant groves and the Peony Garden centering on the Peony Pavilion. When these peonies are in full blossom, the gentle breeze blows the petals onto the surface of the lake, forming an amazing scene. To the north of the red carp pond is a large lawn interspersed with arbors for tourists to have a rest. For centuries, the Viewing Fish at Flower Pond has provided natural beauty and cultural connotations for emperors and poets who have expressed their admiration through poems, calligraphy, and drawings.

Leifeng Pagoda
Leifeng Pagoda in the Lake Area
 Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow
The Leigfeng Pagoda in Evening Glow scene is located at the top of the Evening Glow Mountain to the south of the West Outer Lake. At dusk, the evening glow and the spectacular Leifeng Pagoda is reflected in the rippling lake. It looks very beautiful! The Leifeng Pagoda was constructed by the king of the Wuyue Kingdom to celebrate the pregnancy of his concubine during the Five Dynasties and Ten Sates Period (907-960). It was damaged and renovated several times later. Standing on the pagoda over 230 feet (70 meters) in height, tourists can enjoy the panoramic view of the lake.
 Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds
Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds refers to South Peak and North Peak. The South Peak is 843 feet (256.9 meters) in height, and the North Peak is 1,165 feet (355 meters). They face each other across a distance of about 3.1 miles (5 kilometers). The natural scenery is exceptionally beautiful, especially when it is cloudy or after a rainfall. At that time, only the two tops of the peaks can be seen in the thick fog. It looks as if the fog is being pierced by the two peaks, thus the name 'Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds'.

Long ago Buddhist temples and pagodas were constructed on the tops of the two peaks,
making the place a great attraction and listed as one of the ten famous scenic sites of the lake during the Southern Song Dynasty. Over the years the temples and pagodas were abandoned and fell into disrepair. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Emperor Kangxi renamed the area Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds when he traveled to the lake and erected a pavilion at the Hongchun Bridge on the Lingyin Road.

 Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill
The Nanping Hill to the south of the West Outer Lake is less than 328 feet (100 meters) high, but it is more than 1,094 yards (1,000 meters) long. The Jingci Temple at the foot of the Nanping Hill was constructed by the king of the Wuyue Kingdom in 954 during the Five Dynasties and Ten States Period. The famous Xingjiao Temple also at the hill foot was built in the fifth year (972) of the Kaibao Period in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The bells ring at dawn and drums beat at dust in the temples. The rocks and caves in the Nanping Hill vibrate in resonance with the incoming sound-waves. The beautiful sounds can be repeated again and again.

 Three Pools Mirroring the Moon
The Three Pools Mirroring the Moon Scene is located to the south of the Lesser Paradise Island. "Three Pools" refer to the three stone towers and their surrounding water area. The three towers were erected during the Tianqi Period (1621-1627) in the Ming Dynasty. They stand at the vertexes of a regular triangle, 68 yards (62 meters) away from one another. They have a height of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters), with 6.6 feet (2 meters) above the surface of the water in usual time. The towers are made up of a stone pedestal, an empty sphere, a round cover, a small hexagonal pavilion, and a pear-shaped top. There are six holes evenly distributed around the sphere. At full moon night, candles are lit in the sphere, and the holes are covered with thin paper. The holes, along with the full moon in the sky, are reflected in the water. It seems as if there were so many moons. That is quite unique! Additionally, the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon can be found on the CNY 1 note.

Apart from the top ten scenes, the lake is surrounded by many attractions worth visiting, including the Tomb of General Yue Fei, Tomb of Su Xiaoxiao, the Six Harmonies Pagoda, the Baochu Pagoda, Zhejiang Provincial Museum, and the Underwater World.

 Wonderful Performances
 Music Fountain:
The Music Fountain in the Third Park to the east of the lake is very amazing. It can be enjoyed for free at 10:00, 11:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 19:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00 and 21:30 on weekends and public holidays, and at 10:00, 11:00, 16:00, 16:30, 19:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30 and 21:00 on weekdays.

 Impression West Lake Show:
It is a large-scale performance in the Yuehu Lake Scenic Area. It focuses on the ancient folklore between Xu Xian and Bai Suzhen, and the sad love storey between Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai. It consists of five acts: encounter, falling in love, farewell, memory, and impression. The wonderful dance, melodious music, and fabulous light all contribute to the great success of the performance. The first performance lasts from 19:15 to 20:15, while the second one lasts from 20:45 to 21:45. Ticket prices are listed below.
Class Fare
Ordinary Seats CNY 260
VIP Seats (first five rows) CNY 280
VIP Seats on the Water-platform CNY 350
VIP Seats on the Upper Floor of the Boat CNY 450
VIP Seats on the Ground Floor of the Boat CNY 600
 Admission Fee
The West Lake is a large open lake area which welcomes tourists for free. However, admission fees will be charged to visit some scenic spots around.
Attractions Opening Hours Ticket Price
West Lake All day long Free of Charge
Leifeng Pagoda March 15th to November 15th: 8:00- 20:30
November 16th to the next March 14th: 8:00- 17:30
CNY 40
Children between 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) and 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) in height enjoy half price.
Children less than 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) in height are free of charge.
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon 8:00- 17:00 CNY 45 (including the boat ticket)

 How to Get to the Lake:
1. By Subway:
Take subway 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 subway to Ding'an Road. Upon arrival, walk westward to lakeside Nanshan Mountain area or southward to Wushan Mountain area.

2. By Bus:
Take buses 4/K4, 6/K6, 7/K7, 15/K15, 16/K16,18/K18, 21/K21, 27/K27, 28/K28, 81/K81, K504, 527/K527, Y1, Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5, Y6, Y7, Y8, Y9, and get off at Su Di, Ling Yin, Duan Qiao, Qu Yuan Feng He, Yue Miao, Shuang Feng, Long Jing Si, Yan'an Road, Hu Bin, or Xihu Dadao Stations, and walk to the lake area.
 Hangzhou Bus/ Subway Search 

 How to Tour around the Lake:
1. By Battery Car: The battery travels around the West Outer Lake and can stop at any place along the way for passengers to get on and off. 
Running Time June to August: 8:30 to 21:00
September to the next May: 8:30 to 17:00
Duration 70 minutes
Ticket Fare  CNY 40
Running Route Yongjinmen- Park of Orioles Singing in the Willows- Roman Square- Tang Yun Gallery- Changqiao Park- Leifeng Pagoda- Su Causeway- Crossing Rainbow Bridge (Temple of General Yue Fei)- Tomb of Wu Song- Xiling Bridge- Moon over the Peaceful Lake Scenic Spot- Children’s Palace (Broken Bridge)- the New Lakeside Scenic Area- Yongjimen

2. By Sightseeing Boat: Tourists can visit the scenic spots in the lake by boat. Related information about the cruise is provided as follows:
 West Lake Cruise      Cruise Boats and Wharfs Information
gorgeous cruise boat
Gorgeous Old Style Cruise Boat
boulevard on the lakeside
Lakeside Boulevard
3. By Bike:
 Public Bike: Tourists can apply for a Z Card at the IC Card Service Center located at the nearby Longxiangqiao Subway Station (Entrance/ Exit C1) at CNY 300 (including CNY 200 deposit fee). Then, they can rent a public bike at any stop around the lake by swiping the card. Riding the bike for less than one hour is free of charge; riding it for more than one hour and less than two hours will be charged CNY 1; riding it for more than two hours and less than three hours will be charged CNY 2; riding it for more than three hours will be charged CNY 3 per hour. After sightseeing, return the bike to any of the bike stop and the Z Card at Longxiangqiao Subway Station to get the deposit and balance back. See details of Hangzhou Transportation Smart Card

 Private Bike: Tourists can rent private bicycles by the lake. A single bike is CNY 15 or CNY 20 for one day. They need to pay CNY 100 as a deposit, along with their passports or other ID certificates. If they don't leave their passports there, tourists need to pay CNY 500 to CNY 800 as a deposit.

 Note: Appreciating the lake by bike is one of the most enjoyable ways. The only inconvenience is that there may be no place to store it and that one always needs to keep an eye on it during sightseeing. 

 Recommended Sightseeing Routes
 On Foot:
1. To visit the Broken Bridge: Bai Causeway- Xiling Bridge (about 1 hour)
2. To enjoy the Su Causeway: Crossing Rainbow Bridge- Eastern Lakeside Bridge- Suppressing Dike Bridge- Viewing Hills Bridge-Locking Waves Bridge- Reflecting Ripples Bridge (about 2 hours)
3. To Wander the Beishan Street: Youth Activity Center- Beishan Street- Temple of General Yue Fei (about 1.5 hours)

 By Boat: Lesser Paradise Island (Three Pools Mirroring the Moon)- Inner West Lake- Yang Causeway- Winery Yard and Lotus Pool (1.5 to 3 hours)

 By Bike: Broken Bridge- Bai Causeway- Su Causeway- Leifeng Pagoda- Qingbo Gate (Orioles Singing in the Willows)- Broken Bridge (about one day)

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