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Celebrated by poets for its exquisite scenery, Hangzhou remains one of China's prime tourist destinations. At its heart is West Lake (Xi Hu), criss-crossed by causeways that connect a number of scenic islands and islets. Exploring the lake by small boat or on foot over the causeways is of first priority for any visitor. The two most scenic causeways are the east-west Su Causeway, built in 1189, and the north-south Yang Causeway, which passes along several of West Lake's famous gardens. Guo's Villa is a superb example of China's long tradition in private classical gardens, an ideal spot to enjoy tea. West Lake is surrounded by pagodas and ...

Celebrated by poets for its exquisite scenery, Hangzhou remains one of China's prime tourist destinations. At its heart is West Lake (Xi Hu), criss-crossed by causeways that connect a number of scenic islands and islets. Exploring the lake by small boat or on foot over the causeways is of first priority for any visitor. The two most scenic causeways are the east-west Su Causeway, built in 1189, and the north-south Yang Causeway, which passes along several of West Lake's famous gardens. Guo's Villa is a superb example of China's long tradition in private classical gardens, an ideal spot to enjoy tea. West Lake is surrounded by pagodas and temples. Lingyin Temple to the west of the lake is among China's foremost Buddhist sites, with scores of ancient statues, especially on the route to the nearby "Peak That Flew From Afar." The western hills produce Longjin tea, one of China's most prized varieties, and excursions to the Dragon Well tea villages make for an interesting outing. Shopping is good at the local bird and flower markets, the large night market, and along Old China Street (He Fang Jie) where local handicrafts and Longjin teas are on display. Twice nightly the "Impressions West Lake" cultural show is a dazzler, produced by renowned film director Zhang Yimou, who staged the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in eastern China at the southern end of the Grand Canal of China.
  • Language: (Wu) Shanghainese and Mandarin
  • Currency: Yuan
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summers are hot, humid and sometimes very rainy, and winters can turn chilly. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to enjoy the lake scenery.