For its historical importance and incredible landscape, West Lake is blessed with numerous scenic spots which will take days to visit. However, if you follow my schedule, you can get the essence of this world heritage site in 24 hours.
Using water as its stage and mountains as the background, Impression West Lake perfectly combines the picturesque scenery of West Lake with the culture and history of Hangzhou. Through highlighting the representative elements in history and culture, audience can get a deep understanding of Hangzhou.
In China, the full moon has long been associated with family reunion and consequently viewing the full moon with friends and family has become a traditional custom. In Hangzhou, there are several wonderful places to carry out the tradition with different places offering different experiences.
West Lake is surrounded on three sides by range upon range of mountains. These mountains not only offer a great vantage point to view West Lake, but also possess their unique charm, like historic buildings hiding deep inside and unrivalled environment with fresh air, birds and landscape.
Located on the northern side of West Lake, Beishan Road stretches east to the Broken Bridge and west to Yanggong Causeway along West Lake. For its advantageous location, many wealthy men in history chose to build their residences here, which in turn has contributed to a wealth of historic buildings with exquisite workmanship around West Lake.
Sweet osmanthus has grown in Hangzhou for over 1,600 years and was chosen to be the city flower in 1984. In autumn when sweet osamnthus is in full blossom, the whole city is beautifully decorated with its tiny yellow flowers, and the air is heavy with its sweet scent. As the gentle breeze blows, the tiny yellow flowers heavy with dew drop like rain drops. It’s rather poetic.
Blooming most vibrantly during the coldest months it is no wonder plum blossom, along with bamboo and pine, in Chinese culture is regarded as one of the Three Friends of Winter (unlike most other plants in winter, these three can stand the test of time) - Its brilliant color can easily brighten any cold, damp day in Hangzhou and viewing the blossom in late winter and early spring has become a ritual of both the locals and thousands of tourists that visit each year.
The Prince Bay Park is famous for its tulips which were imported from Netherlands in 1992, and it has held annual tulips exhibition ever since. Normally, the exhibition lasts from late March to late April for a period of 20 days. During the period, over 300,000 blooms create an exotic mosaic of color and beauty. It is a must-see highlight for tourists who visit Hangzhou in April.
The best scenery that West Lake can offer in summer is miles and miles of lotus in full blossom. With a boundless of pink flowers set off by the green leaves and swaying in the summer breeze, one can find themselves cool and happy in the sweltering summer weather.
Lingyin Temple or the Temple of the Soul's Retreat is one of the ten most famous Buddhist temples of China and the oldest in Hangzhou. Located in a valley at the foot of Northern Peak and sheltered by forested hills and covered by lingering clouds, the temple, a haven of peace and tranquility, holds the largest statue of the Buddha Sakyamuni sitting on a lotus throne.
Jingci Temple is the second prominent Buddhist temple around West Lake together with Lingyin Temple. Named the jewel of the southern and northern hills, the temple in 1983, was listed as a national key Buddhist temple in Han's area by the State Council. Jingci Temple proudly hosts one of Ten Top Scenic Spots of West Lake - Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill.
Located halfway up Ge Hill, Baopu Taoist Temple is built on the original site of Baopu Hut where the famous alchemist of Jin Dynasty (265–420) — Ge Hong made elixirs. In ancient times, Baopu Taoist Temple was renowned as one of Top Three Taoist Temples Around West Lake. Among the twenty-one Taoist Temples open to the public in China, it’s the only one located in Hangzhou.
The temple is dedicated to the national hero Yue Fei, a patriotic general of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 AD). In the temple, the heroic deeds of this hero are demonstrated in the form of myths, poems and legends. Yue Fei Tomb is also located inside with bronze statues of Qin Hui and his wife kneeling in front.
Tianzhu Hill is famous for three old temples (Upper Tianzhu, Middle Tianzhu and Lower Tianzhu) which together are called "Three Temples at Tianzhu" by the locals and famous for their temple fairs.
Bordering the park of Orioles Singing in the Willows, Temple to King Qians is originally built for Qian Liu (852-932) king of the Five Dynasties’ Wuyue Kingdom with Hangzhou as its capital. It is the core scene on the south shore of West Lake.
Located at the southern foot of Solitary Hill and the northern bank of West Lake, Zhejiang Provincial Museum houses over 100,000 items in its permanent collection. Among these world-famous treasures, Jade and silk artifacts from Liangzhu Culture, bronze wares from Yue Kingdom, celadon wares from Yue, Kiln, potteries, lacquerwares as well as wood, bone and ivory artifacts from Hemudu Culture are both eye-dazzling and impressive.
Situated at the south part of Temple to King Qians, West Lake Museum featuring a fantastic array of cultural and historical portraitures representing Hangzhou, is a great place to head before hatching any travel plans around this city.
China Sigillography Museum is the only national-level museum of its kind in China, displaying imperial seals, epigraphic art, painting and calligraphy, sigillographic art, seal stone, Wu Changshuo’s works, and Xiling’s history.
Situated at the southern bank of the West Lake, China National Silk Museum is the largest silk museum on earth. Its eight exhibition halls including the Preface Hall, Relics Hall, Folk-custom Hall, Dyeing and Weaving Hall and Modern Achievements Hall will lead you into a fantastic world.
If you want to learn everything about tea in China, China Tea Museum will impress you. Its exhibition halls are housed in pretty modern buildings set among ponds, gardens and rolling tea plantations. Several hours spent here will be most awarding, for you can not only get familiar with the origin, history, development, wares, replicas and varieties of tea, but also the profound tea culture.
The 12,470-square-meter museum consists of four sections - Professional Showroom, Qiantang Kitchen, Taste of Hangzhou, and Dongpo Pavilion. Unlike other museums, it allows visitors to taste Hangzhou delicacies, take cooking lessons and enjoy other activities.
The museum is located inside the ancient building complex of Hu Qing Yu Tang - a famous traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy, which has long been honored as “the Medicine House of the South of the Yangtze River”. One day spending here, you can get a full picture of Traditional Chinese Medicine here.
Located beside the enticing West Lake, Hu Pan Ju is one of the oldest and most well-known teahouse in town. Except for rainy days, you can sit on the waterfront and soak in the scenery romanticized by poets, painters, calligraphers and emperors during the past millennium.
The style of the teahouse is a fusion of Chinese and Japanese flavor, with service involving tea ceremony, clay modeling, recreation, entertainment and business conference, and it offers superb snacks with reasonable price.
Chenghuang Tower Teahouse is located high on the top of Wushan Hill. It's a place combining leisure, sightseeing and entertainment, offering all kinds of teas including West Lake Dragon Well Green Tea.
Nestled at the foot of Leifeng Pagoda and facing the picturesque West Lake on Nanping Hill is Leifang Ge Teahouse, a charming location offering a number of teas and snacks at reasonable prices.
The teahouse is the most characteristic teahouse in the antique Hefang Street. With wooden benches and square wooden tables set around, wooden menus hanging on the wall, waiters dressed in traditional Chinese clothes, it features the decoration of ancient Chinese style. There are tea shows available. You get to view people pan-frying the tea leaves, and pouring tea from a long-neck tea pot.