activities and experiences
hangzhou's west lake
Surrounded by verdant hills, West Lake’s shores and causeways are lined with fragrant trees and lotus blossoms and its beauty is revered countrywide. Not only famous for its picturesque landscape, West Lake is also associated with many of China’s scholars, national heroes and revolutionary martyrs hence the fact that it is one of the most visited sites by domestic travellers today.
Formed from what was originally an inlet of the Qiantang River, the lake was created in its current form by the silting of the river in the 4th century. Covering eight square kilometres, the circumference is around 15 kilometres and the average depth is 2.27 metres. The lake is divided by Gu Shan, Bai, Su and Yanggong Causeways into five areas. These are Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake, North Inner Lake, Little South Lake and Yue Lake. Outer West Lake is the largest of the five. The lake also boasts a large natural island known as Gu Shan or ‘Gu Hill’, as well as three smaller man-made islands.
With its historic bridges, pagodas, islands and gardens, West Lake can be visited at any time of the day although it is at its most peaceful early in the morning. A number of traditional wooden row-boats are available to take guests to both well-known and lesser-known attractions. During the cooler months, a wonderful way to explore the lake shore is by bicycle. The West Lake was recently added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.
six harmonies pagoda
Completed during the Northern Song Dynasty in 970 AD, Liuhe Pagoda or ‘The Pagoda of Six Harmonies’ was built with the intention of restoring balance between the six directions of the universe – north, south, east, west, heaven and earth – to counteract the devastating destruction of the Qiantang River tidal bores. Destroyed itself by warfare in 1121, the pagoda was rebuilt during the Southern Song Dynasty in 1165. Additional exterior eaves were added during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Situated on the north bank of the river, the octagonal brick-and-wood structure is today one of China’s most significant pagodas preserved from ancient times. Towering 60 metres above the slopes of Moon Disc Hill, the pagoda has 13 storeys, each offering excellent views of Qiantang River and the outer regions of Hangzhou City.
Just behind the pagoda is an extensive garden with miniature pagodas hidden amongst the trees. The Chinese Pagoda Exhibition Park was opened in 1993 and features over 100 replicas of famous pagodas from all over China. Tastefully designed, it offers a tranquil setting in which to wander.
the tea museum
Hangzhou is often lauded as the “Tea Capital of China” for its excellence in tea cultivation, education and culture, and the hills surrounding West Lake produce the world famous Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea. A visit to the National Tea Museum, just a few minutes’ drive from Amanfayun, will explain the many fascinating aspects of tea cultivation and its importance in the history of China. Different teas can also be sampled to enhance the experience. Situated in an expansive garden setting, the museum is made up of several separate buildings around a number of tranquil ponds and pavilions. The traditional Tea House on the property is an inviting venue for experiencing a traditional tea ceremony with scenic views.
China is renowned for its many festivals and celebrations. Amongst the most important are Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day), Duanwu Festival (Dragon Boat Festival) and Mid-Autumn Festival. Hangzhou also has its own colourful festivals that are unique to the city. The West Lake Pilgrimage Fair, West Lake Lotus Festival, West Lake Osmanthus Festival, Qiantang Tide Watching Festival and West Lake International Fireworks Show are the best known.