West Lake is man-made and created after the Chinese love for garden-style parks for recreation. It's in the western suburbs, the historic center of Hangzhou. West Lake is the symbol of Hangzhou, and is considered one of the most beautiful sights in China.

  • Chinese: 西湖 Xī Hú /sshee hoo/ (xi is 'west'; hu is 'lake')
  • Location: southwest of downtown Hangzhou, 180 km southwest of Shanghai.
  • Area: 6.5 square kilometers (2½ square miles)
  • Highlights: The Ten Scenic Sites of West Lake, boat cruises, biking, scenic walks, Impression West Lake night show
  • Recommended visit: 1 day

When to Go and What to See

Spring — Best Season

slender west lakeWillow sprouts in spring.

Spring is the best season for West Lake. The green leaves and flower blossoms make the lake more beautiful. Thus March and April is the peak season for West Lake travel.

Su Causeway features in one of the ten best-known West Lake. It is a long causeway with willows and other plants on both sides. When spring comes, the whole causeway is blanketed with peach blossoms and weeping willows, creating an especially charming scene.

Viewing Fish and Lotus Fronds at Flower Pond is the name of another classic scene, at the southern end of Su Causeway. Every day many visitors come to see and feed the fish. It has been made into a charming park with many varieties of trees and flowers, featuring a peony garden which blooms in April, and the famous goldfish pond.

Summer — Lotus Blossoms

Lotus blossoms in Summer

Summer is the season of lotus flowers. The lotuses in West Lake attract many people. The best place to appreciate this view is at the Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard (曲苑风荷) site.

Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard is in the west of West Lake. Every summer, there are hundreds of types of lotus in full bloom, attracting many visitors.

Fall — Calm Lake and Clear Sky

Autumn is very cool in West Lake. The weather is less rainy, which makes it a good season to appreciate the beautiful moonlight at night. West Lake is a popular place to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival full moon.

Three Pools Mirroring the Moon is perhaps the most famous site of West Lake. Its image is printed on the 1-yuan bank note. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, when the moon shines full and bright in the sky, a candle is lit inside each of the mini pagodas on the water. The light from the windows and the moon cast their reflections on the water, hence the name.

Winter — “Melting Snow on Broken Bridge”

Snowy weather at West Lake is seldom seen now. But it's really a good season to enjoy a less crowded West Lake.

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Impression West Lake — the night show on the lake

Impression West Lake is an outdoor live performance. Performed in the evening, with lights, music, and dancing on its West Lake stage, it tells a beautiful love story of five acts: "Encounter", "Fall in Love", "Say Goodbye", "Memory", and "Impression". The show is available from March to December.

Tickets: 250 yuan (40 USD) – 600 yuan (100 USD)

Best times: spring and fall

Aprilto October: 7:45–8:45

March, November, December: 7:15–8:15

  • If the weather is good and demand is high, there may be a second performance from 9:45 to 10:45.

Biking/Walking Around West Lake

West Lake is considered one of the best biking routes in China. To admire the beauty of West Lake, visitors can leisurely bike or walk around it. On bike or foot you have more freedom to explore in an environmentally friendly and healthy way. You'll experience more of the people of China, and experience more of nature.

See our West Lake Biking Guide.

Enjoy a Leisurely Time on a Boat

Travelers can take a boat cruise to visit some of West Lake's islands. There are many kinds of boats, including large painted boats, small rowing boats, and even self-rowing boats. The cruise is available during the day and at night, and many kinds of boats are available.

Painted Boats — the most comfortable boat

  • Price:45 yuan/person (7.5 USD)
  • Sights: 'Lake Heart Pavilion' (Huxin Ting/hoo-sshin ting/ 湖心亭)
  • Docks: Lakeside Third Park Dock (Hubin San Gongyuan Matou /hoo-bin san gong-ywen maa-toe/ 湖滨三公园码头), Children Palace Dock (Shaonian Gong Matou /shaoo-nyen gong maa-toe/ 少年宫码头)

Electric Boats

There are two kinds of battery boats, for four and six people.

  • Sights: 'Little Ocean Island' (Xiaoying Zhou /syaou-ying jo/ 小瀛洲) and 'Lake Heart Pavilion' island
  • Docks: 'White Causeway Dock' (Baidi Matou /buy-dee maa-toe/ 白堤码头), close to Broken Bridge (Duanqiao /dawn-chyaou/ 断桥)
  • Price per hour: 35 yuan (6 USD) for a 4-person boat; 45 yuan (7.5 USD) for a 6-person boat ;(Tickets to the two islands are included with the boat ticket.)
  • Operating: 7:30am to 4:30pm spring to fall; 8am to 4pm in winter

Nearby Attractions

Lingyin Temple: 'Temple of the Soul's Retreat' is a quiet and sheltered sanctuary. It ;is one of the largest and most-visited Buddhist temples in China, and holds the largest statue of the Buddha Sakyamuni in the lotus position.

Qinghefang Pedestrian Street: The shops are mainly oriented for tourists, and they sell curios, paintings, souvenirs, craft products, and other works of art. ;There are also restaurants featuring foreign food for tourists. ;There are some teahouses and shops with long histories.

Six Harmonies Pagoda: It offers a fine view of Qiantang River, famous for the world's largest tidal bores, which are extremely spectacular during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Meijiawu Tea Plantation: It is one of the Four Famous Sites for Longjing Tea (Dragon Well — “China's Top Tea”), featuring a tea farm and village with rich tea culture and tourist development. It attracts over a million tourists every year.

Tour West Lake with China Highlights

If you are planning a West Lake tour, please see our 4-day West Lake tour for inspiration. Or contact us to tailor make a West Lake tour according to your requirements. We will help you arrange the tickets to attractions, transport, accommodation, top guide, and cruise to save you a lot of hassle.