Experiencing Hangzhou - Off the Beaten Track
Ask any Shanghainese about nearby destinations for a relaxed weekend away from the city and the answer will almost always be the West Lake. But just how popular the lake is doesn’t become apparent until you arrive at the Hangzhou tourism hub, and find yourself among tens of thousands of travelers who visit every day. If you’re looking for a little more tranquility, however, the nearby Qiandao Lake in Chun’an County is almost a hundred times larger than the 6-square-kilometer West Lake, yet it receives only about one tenth of the number of visitors.
To push the city’s less fashionable yet equally beautiful attractions, Hangzhou authorities are trying to encourage tourists to get off the beaten path.
Among the top 20 tourist attractions in west Zhejiang, we introduced three ancient villages for the history nerds among our readers last Wednesday. This time, we highlight three places perfect for a family trip or a weekend away with friends.
Hangzhou Polar Ocean Park
Just a short Metro ride from downtown Hangzhou, Polar Ocean Park features polar bears, whales, sharks, walruses, foxes and other species and is among the top destinations for a one-day family trip.
Just after the entrance of the vast park, two polar bears are the first to welcome visitors, followed by beavers who are mostly seen sleeping during the day, and penguins who show off their swimming skills — as well as their clumsiness on land. Dolphins blow bubbles in front of visitors, who are excitingly cheering for more.
The park is home to more than 150 arctic specimen and over 1,000 fish.
Address: 777 Xianghu Rd
Tel: (0571) 8260-9090
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 240 yuan (US$37) for adults, 210 yuan for children under 1.3 meters, and free for children under 1 meter.
Dubbed “the lungs of Hangzhou,” Xixi Wetland Park is the first nationally protected wetland in China and lies just a few kilometers from downtown Hangzhou.
Xixi boasts more than 80 species of birds and a popular destination for bird-watchers, who can chose between several bird-viewing platforms.
The wetland changes dramatically throughout the seasons. In spring, hundreds of species of flowers are in bloom, in fall, fiery persimmon fruits hang from the trees, and now, during winter, silvery reed waves in the wind, while fishermen set out for a good catch.
If you’re traveling with a group, we recommend a dragon boat race. Coaching and training is included in the rental fee. If you’re alone or with a partner, get close to nature by rowing a small boat into the wetland. Try to catch a fish, and have it freshly prepared for your dinner.
Address: 518 Tianmushan Rd
Tel: (0571) 8810-6622
Admission: 80 yuan for adults, 40 yuan for children under 1.3 meters, free for children under 1 meter.
The lake, nestled between the verdant mountains of Chun’an County in the southwest part of Hangzhou, is a man-made reservoir that turned thousands of mountaintops into little islands.
The environment is so clean that it is home to several well-known bottled water brands, including Nongfu Spring.
Cycling along the 140-kilometer greenway is one of the most popular activities at Thousand-Island Lake. The view is gorgeous, the air is fresh and all the paths are well-labelled with signs, although hostels offer free maps that will allow you to plan your route.
Bikes can be rented for about 20 yuan per hour or 100 yuan a day and tandem bikes are available for those traveling with a partner.
The greenway circles the main body of the lake and features some good climbs and fun downhill sections.
In addition, there are plenty of outlets that offer water sports, including boat rowing, sailing and surfing.
Qiandao Lake in summer has many to offer and to enjoy the coolness of water in the lake and mountain streams are must-have. We did a thorough research ahead of time and hereby have collected a complete water fun guide of Qiandao Lake for you! Read on to learn more...
In order to improve the high-speed railway connection system and promote the construction of scenic areas in the whole region, Qiandao Lake opened its direct tourist buses to rural scenic areas on July 1. That is to say, people who are at the Qiandao Lake High-Speed Railway Station can take these buses directly to such rural scenic areas as the Xiajiang Village Scenic Area, the Shilin Scenic Area and the Jiangjia Scenic Area. These three routes pass through Fengshuling Town, Lishang Township, Shilin Town, Jieshou Village and Jiangjia Town. It will be more convenient for tourists to reach these scenic areas.