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China: Hangzhou and West Lake

October 13, 2011 By: Meagan Drillinger Travel Agent


Banyan Tree Hangzhou
All the rooms at the Banyan Tree Hangzhou are surrounded by water.


Hangzhou is known both within China and abroad for its historic relics and natural beauty, which have been the inspiration for poets and artists since the ninth century. The West Lake area, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site earlier this year, covers an area of about 12 square miles and is one of the most historic regions in China. The landscape consists of pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, along with causeways and artificial islands. It is a playground for scenic seekers and lovers of Chinese history and culture.

West Lake

The city is chock-full of fascinating and beautiful sites, but a trip to West Lake is a must. The lake has four islands, three of which are manmade. The West Lake landscape is made up of 10 poetically named scenic places, which were developed in the 13th century during the Song Dynasty. A tour of these 10 sites will give your clients a thorough understanding and appreciation of the landscape:

At the Su Causeway in the Morning of Spring across the lake, visitors are drawn to the six bridges, willows and peach blossoms that dot the shores. If your clients want the best place to take in panoramic views, this is it. About 75 feet from Su Causeway sits Breeze-Ruffled Lotus at Winding Garden, the distillery for making government-sold wine during the Southern Song Dynasty, and the lotus pond around it.

Autumn Moon Over the Calm Lake refers to the Gushan Hill area, another top spot for sweeping vistas across the lake. This site is notable for the view of the moon from a boat on the lake on autumn nights.


Hangzhou’s Six Harmonies Pagoda
Hangzhou’s Six Harmonies (Liuhe) Pagoda dates back to the Southern Song Dynasty (A.D. 1127 to 1279).

Lingering Snow on Broken Bridge can be found at and around Duanqiao Bridge (this directly translates to “broken bridge”). The area sits at the east end of Bai Causeway in the northern section of the lake. The causeway links Gushan Hill and the shore, dividing the lake into northern and southern halves. Aside from the bridge’s historic significance, it also plays a role in one of China’s most important folk stories, “The White Snake.”

Between the Small South Lake and the West Inner Lake, visitors can experience Viewing Fish at Flowery Pond. Throughout the Song Dynasty, dozens of rare species of fish were kept in a pond near the lake. The pond was reconstructed as a traditional garden on the island to the west of Su Causeway between Yingbo Bridge and Suolan Bridge. Towers and pavilions have also been erected, which, along with rockeries and a fish pond, make this one of the most picturesque spots on the lake.

At the eastern shore of the lake area, guests will find Orioles Singing in the Willows, originally a scenic spot in Jujing Garden during the Song Dynasty. The area was revived in 1699 when the emperor frequented Hangzhou.

Three Pools Mirroring the Moon is at Lesser Yingzhou Isle and its water garden is said to be prime real estate for viewing the moon. Three pagodas were erected but collapsed after the Song Dynasty. Since then, the lake has been dredged and the spot has turned into a water garden. The three pagodas, which now sit in the water, have been restored and preserved.

Two Peaks Piercing the Cloud consists of the two highest peaks in the north and south to the west of the lake. The best spot for viewing the peaks is on Hongchun Bridge. Each peak is topped with a pagoda and on misty days, travelers looking west from the lake can see the tips of the pagodas stand out among the clouds.

As dusk falls, travelers should make their way to Xizhao Hill on the south shore of the lake. Here is the best spot to see Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow, the silhouette of a historic pagoda that sits on top of a peak.

Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill is the last of the 10 poetically named sites. The sound of the bell from Jingci Temple on Nanping Hill resonates all across the lake.

Hangzhou by Night

After a day of taking in West Lake’s natural elements, your clients may wish to experience Hangzhou’s historic and colorful pageantry. For a taste of Hangzhou during the Southern Song Dynasty, which lasted from A.D. 1127 to 1279, travelers must make a trip to Song Dynasty Village. Here, they will find people dressed in the fashions of that era. The streets are filled with horsemen and soldiers, as well as craftsmen working like they did back then. The area is both a theme park and amusement area, and is a wonderful stop for family travelers.


Hangzhou’s West Lake
Serene pavilions, ponds, rockeries and colorful flora pervade Hangzhou’s West Lake.


The Song Dynasty Village is home to an indoor theater that can seat over 3,000 spectators. Actors put on a vibrant production that uses modern technology to showcase Chinese history—the court of the Song Dynasty, battles, old Zhejiang music and more. Performances run daily and it is a must for all first-timers to Hangzhou.

Where to Stay

Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou opened in summer 2010 on the shores of West Lake, with 78 rooms and three residence-style villas. In keeping with Hangzhou’s proud display of history, the hotel was created on the site of the historic Jin Sha Kan cultural village. The hotel boasts a spa that has nine treatment rooms, including double-bed spa suites with private steam showers or baths, a Finnish sauna, herbal steam baths, specialized experience showers and ice fountains.

The property offers four dining experiences, ranging from elegant Chinese at Jing Sha, to Asian and Western favorites at WLB, to light fare at the Lobby Lounge and drinks at The Bar.

Agents can reach out to Akihiro Ichikawa (+86 571-8113-5105, [email protected]), director of sales and marketing, with questions about the hotel.


Four Seasons Hangzhou
Junior Suites at the Four Seasons Hangzhou have garden-view terraces.


Banyan Tree Hangzhou is another option for your clients visiting Hangzhou. The 72-key property is just 15 minutes outside of downtown Hangzhou and less than an hour’s drive from the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport. All the rooms at the Banyan Tree Hangzhou are surrounded by lakes and water. Each villa has floor heating, LCD TVs, DVDs, air conditioning and more.

The property has three dining venues, including Waterlight Court, for all-day dining; Bai Yun for authentic Chinese fare; and Jiu Xian, a swanky bar lounge that serves up a selection of cocktails. The Banyan Tree Spa has 10 treatment rooms in four different season themes. The spa also has a swimming pool, beauty salon, oriental bath, gym, yoga and spa lounge.

For inquiries, agents can contact Angela Chen (+86 571-8586-0000, ext. 7020; [email protected]), director of sales and marketing.

Getting There

Hangzhou is serviced by Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, which is one of the largest in China and has connections to Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore and 50 Chinese cities. Hangzhou is also easily accessible by rail, with direct connections to over 30 cities. The main station at Jiangcheng Road leaves passengers in the city center, where it is easy to catch a taxi. The Hangzhou East Railway Station is also a possible option for travelers, but this is a bit further out from the city center.

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About the Author

Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger has been with Luxury Travel Advisor and Travel Agent since 2009, covering both Asia and Mexico. A fan of both fabulous hotels and culturally immersive...

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By Meagan Drillinger | October 13, 2011
The West Lake area, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site earlier this year, covers an area of about 12 square miles and is one of the most historic regions in China. Travel agent uncovers the latest on what to see and do in the area.