A Guide to Hangzhou's West Lake

Relax in one of West Lakes pagodas I
Relax in one of West Lake's pagodas I | © xiquinhosilva/Flickr
Cathrene Tarukwasha

Over centuries and dynasties, the people of China have maintained a quest to find and curate a harmony between human nature, natural surroundings and the unknown spiritual afterlife. To fully understand this harmony is to visit West Lake in Hangzhou – immortalized in poetry dating back to the Qin dynasty, this UNESCO-listed spot is also upheld as an example of a classical garden throughout Asia. Read on for more about this fascinating attraction in Hangzhou.

Background

Protected by a cascade of mountains and hills on three sides topped with pagodas, terraced tea fields and gentle rolling hills nestled with temples, West Lake is akin to a mythical paradise. The freshwater lake has not only served as a scenic background to romantic folklore and a homage to Buddhist thought, it has also provided a refuge and a source of inspiration for poetry and poets, as well as being a blueprint for classical gardens found today across Japan, Korea and throughout China. In 2011 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, introducing it to the world as a must-see place to visit in China.

West Lake bridge I

The formation of West Lake

How to enjoy West Lake

The best way to fully appreciate the beauty and expanse of the lake is by taking a gondola, or simply by strolling or riding a bike around its circumference along stone-paved pathways. The lake is perfect for strolling lovers and tea sipping retirees, and serves as a sanctuary for flora and fauna. It is also a preferred spot for newlyweds – it’s not uncommon to witness a dozen couples trailed by photography crews around the edges of the lake vying for a picture-perfect pose.

Taking a gondola across West Lake I

When to visit

The lake is a year-round attraction, and is stunning whether covered in a white sheet of snow in winter, or bursting with fragrant life during the warmer peach and plum blossom seasons. Since 2007 it has been host to ‘West Lake Impressions‘, a permanent theatrical installation from film maker Zhang Yimou, featuring music, dance and lighting that tells of Hangzhou folklore. The production is shown nightly to sold out crowds and is a perfect way to view the lake at night.

West Lake by night I
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article