Hangzhou Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Race in Xixi Wetland

As one of the rare urban secondary wetlands, Xixi National Wetland Park is located in the western part of Hangzhou City, less than 5 km from West Lake. With rich ecological resources, a simple and natural landscape, and a profound culture, Xixi is known as one of the three "Xi's" along with Xihu (West Lake) and Xiling (the Seal Engravers' Society). It is the first and only wetland park in China combining urban life, farming, and culture. China Highlights is your China travel expert, we can help you customize a tour to see dragon boat racing in China.

Reason for recommendation: it is the closest site for watching the dragon boat race around Hangzhou’s urban area

During the Dragon Boat Festival, Xixi Wetland holds the annual “Hangzhou Xixi International Dragon Boat Race.” We appreciate not just the wonderful dragon boat race and the perfect combination of Chinese folk traditions and Olympic spirits, we can also sit in the tea pavilion and enjoy tea whilst listening to well-known operas and satisfying our eyes with the gorgeously wrought dragon boats.

After the dragon boat games is the competition for making zongzi and scent bags, as well as drawing realgar at the onsite stage. You have the choice of tasting “Wuhuang” (five yellow food consisting of yellow croaker fish, cucumber (huang gua), yellow finless eel, yolk of salted duck egg (dan huang), and realgar wine (huang jiu) and enjoying live performances such as the Xixi Kongfu show, the Chinese boxing show on the boat, and the Shaoxing opera. If interested, you can even go on to the Dragon Boat Exhibition Hall on Hezhu Street to learn the skill of carving the boat’s dragon head.

Highlights: This is the nearest spot to watch the dragon boat race that is not in downtown Hangzhou. The event has a long history and unique style of the “Dragon Boat Pageant” (renowned as the “Various Dragon Boats Show”).

How to get: Drive to Hangzhou Xixi National Wetland Park, or take the following buses to reach Xixi Wetland by getting off at Zhoujia Village: K310, K506, K193, Y13, and Tour Bus 1.

Dragon Boat Drift on Xin'an River

Situated in western Zhejiang Province, Hsin-an River is part of the main stream of Qiantang River. With a total length of 373 km, Hsin-an River originates from Xiuning County in Anhui Province where it is called Feng River, Dayuan River, and Suai River. As it runs east to Pukou in Shexian County, its name changes to Hsin-an River or Hui Port. Hsin-an River runs southeast to Tong River in Meicheng in Jiande City of Zhejiang Province.

The Hsin'an River Landscape Scenic Resort is flanked by a thick forest of trees on the mountains, and the water is limpid and green, including at distributed places of interest amongst the landscape of mountains and the river. Tang poet Men Haoran once praised the clarity of Hsin’an River: ”The lake will be widen by passing Dongting; the river will be more limpid by passing Hsin’an River”. Libai also described his visit to Hsin’an River:

“The clear stream purifies my heart
its color differs from others
may I ask the Xin’anjiang river
How could you compare with its limpidness?
See people walking upon these shores
and birds flying in the mountains”

Shenyue, a scholar of the Southern Song Dynasty, once titled his masterpiece “Hsin-an River is limpid with crystal water,” and wrote the poem in memory of the beautiful scenes: ”Understanding can be divided according to the depth, while the crystal water in Hsin-an River can not changed in terms of seasons. The trees of several thousand feet can be reflected on the water, while the swimming fishes can be seen in the water of hundreds of metres.” A nameless man of letters even described its a beauty as a feast to the travelers’ eyes: “The wrinkled glass ripples and sometimes the jade-like green will be disappearing to white. The spring has no muddy smell in the valley, and the sound of the water splashes the side of flower land is just like that of the jades clashing.” Hsin-an River’s water is always as limpid as crystal regardless of its depth, and it is always bright and clear as a mirror regardless of the season. That is a distinguishing feature of Hsin-an River.

Hsin-an River has won the reputation as a “fine scenery in the world” and is now given the praise “Cool World,” which is also “the road of Tang poems” well-known both at home and abroad. Thanks to the geographical position of the Thousand Islands Lake, Hsin-an River always has a temperature of within 12–17 °C in a year, creating the unique weather condition of “warm in winter and cool in summer.” In a sweltering summer, Hsin-an River is like a huge, rather interesting “refrigerator,” glittering and cool as ice.

Special Activities:The dragon boat drift, available in whole drift seasons as well as during the Dragon Boat Festival.

The Hsin-an rafting experience is not about dragon boat racing but about the dragon boat drift, where one can sit silently on a boat to enjoy the splendid scenes of “most clear water, very cool wind and quite strange fog.” Here, the pure water produced by the “Nongfu Spring” is within reach. Moreover, you can appreciate the gorgeous panorama of fish, trees under the sunset light, bridges, and underwater flora and fauna. If you do not want to just sit, you can row the boat yourself or use the water gun for a “water war” with other travelers on other boats.

Highlights:Travelling on the Hsin-an River brings you coolness, as if you were at a summer resort. If you are fortunate, you can see a local fisherman's traditional wedding ceremony.
How to get: Drive on Hang Xinjing Highway until you reach the Hsin-an River exit, and get off; take the express bus from Hangzhou to Hsin-an River.

Dragon Boat Race in Cangqian Ancient Town

The former name for Cangqian Ancient Town was Ling Yuan. In 1132, the government, overseen by the Southern Dynasty, built up the Lin’an easy-to-resident warehouse on the north of the street. Chinese ancestors were accustomed to treat “South” (Nan) as “Forth (Qian),” and then called it Cangqian Street. Over 873 years ago, the name “Cangqian” was carried, although many changes have taken place in its subordinate relationship and its development.

Within the border, Yuhangtang River runs throughout the area of Cangqian, with East Tiao Brook clinging to its west. Song Jiang Mountain, Wang Jinshan Hills, Gua Mountain on the northeastern corner, and Wushan constitute a poetic landscape embedded with water and mountains.

Cangqian, with a long historical standing and a thick cultural atmosphere, is the hometown of Zhang Taiyan, a famous master of Chinese culture. Rinsing Silk Floss (Tsing Shui Si Mian) have enjoyed high fame since the Ming and Qiang Dynasties. In China, early bamboo shoots are well-known for their tender flesh and delicious taste. Among others, the small, white broad beans in Longquan Temple was once used as a tribute to the Chinese Emperor given its delicious taste. In the south of the town lies the White Tiger Mountain, which contain many Neolithic remains. In the middle of town stand the well-known relics of the Lin’an warehouse of the Southern Song Dynasty. Apart from the warehouse, the downtown area also houses the former residence of Zhang Taiyan, a famous master of Chinese culture, and Qian Ai Ren Tang Pharmacy, where the sensationally tragic case of Yang Nai Wu of the late Qing Dynasty took place.

Recommended Reason:The dragon boat race here is considered the most traditional in China. During the annual Dragon Boat Festival, the most traditional dragon boat race is held. The simplest decorated dragon boat shuttles back and forth on the river. Occasionally, several old dragon boats are stuck with many colorful flags.

Highlights:Perhaps the simpler the dragon boat race, the more traditional it is. After viewing the race, you can search for the footprint of Zhang Taiyan.

How to get: If you are a tourist from Hangzhou, drive from Wen Yi West Road to the west until you reach the Luting Road exit. Turn right up to Hai Shu Road, where you will find Cangqian in front of you, or take the bus from Gudang to Cangqian.

Dragon Boat Race on White Dragon Pool

White Dragon Waterfall

White Dragon Waterfall is arguably the best of the “Dragon Gate Eight Sights,” and is the largest waterfall in the Hangzhou suburbs. After a drop of 50 meters, the stream from the White Dragon Waterfall meanders through the S-shaped valley, deeply embedded in the high cliff, appearing like a white dragon cruising in the air who runs into clouds and mist from time to time and then falls into the pond. With splashes made from countless water drops, the waterfall shines and sparkles in the sun. Many tourists rush to take an appreciative look at the White Dragon Waterfall. Tian Yiheng, a poet from the Ming Dynasty, once wrote a poem about the waterfall: “The waterfall flies the strange rain from sky; the stone gate stirs the current like a lock of canyon.” Yu Dafu, a renowned writer, also came here to admire the sights, and wrote a poem: “Inscription on the Longmen mountain: Outer Galaxy a ramp, four mountain waterfalls to make calling frog. I want to go to Japan tomorrow and wish to raft in the pool to fish.” Of the countless famous quotes that describe the White Dragon Waterfall, a few are noted here: “The waterfall flies the strange rain from sky; the stone gate stirs the current like a lock of canyon” and, “The spouting waterfall in the dragon pool will fly thousands of miles; the sound of flowing reverberates around the waterfall.”

White Dragon Pool

As a new tourist attraction in Hangzhou, the White Dragon Pool enjoys the good geographic location, as it is a mere 20 kilometers from Hangzhou. Even if you depart from Shanghai, you can finish your travelling in one day. The White Dragon Pool is located in the West Lake Long Wu Scenic Spots, in the southwestern part of Hangzhou. The style of the White Dragon Pool takes after that of the attractions in Lin’an in Zhejiang Province. Along the valley and to the sides of the mountain streams, you can get a close view of the streams, the waterfall, the canyon, and many tall trees. You can also enjoy the melodic sounds of nature.

The White Dragon Pool is situated at the main entrance of the scenic spot. According to local legend, dragons all over the world gather together each year on August 8 of the lunar calendar to talk with each other about their experiences in their own areas. The host, the white dragon, shows every sister and brother around the White Dragon Pool. This annual gathering is a big Dragon Raja event, and brings blessings to the White Dragon Pool. It is said that you can hear the whisperings of Dragon Raja if you listen carefully at the side of the White Dragon Pool on August 8.

The jade dragon in the pool is the most precious in our country. It is a sculpture from white marble, which is the highest quality carving construction stone. With a total length of 25 meters and a height of 3.6 meters, the carving consumes about 236 stones. The sculpture’s gross weight after carving is 106 tons, making it the largest jade dragon currently in China that is carved from white marble. The jade dragon was designed by Mr. Ni Dongfang, a master in national arts and handicrafts, and was carved by Mr. Chen Xinhui, a master in folk arts and crafts. Therefore, the sculpture boasts high appreciation and artistic value. The water in the pool is so clear that you can see its bottom, where the jade dragon appears graceful and gentle. Its head faces heaven, as if it can whistle out from the green waves. The jade dragon’s integration with the mountains and the water is a landmark of the White Dragon Pool.

Characteristic Activities: Dragon Boat Race on Land

At the Dragon Boat Festival, the Long Wu White Dragon Pool Scenic Spot holds the dragon boat race on land to pass on the spirit of the dragon through the combined efforts of adults and children. When the game is over, take a look around the White Dragon Waterfall near the West Lake to get a feel for the imposing green water falling. Wander in the mountains and plains to experience the fun of farming and relax completely in this natural oxygen bar.

Highlights: Dragon boat races on land are rare. Since the attraction has just opened, let’s be the first to have a try.

How to get: Take the bus at Longxiangqiao Bridge in Hangzhou to Zhuangtang Town, and then transfer to the White Dragon Pool by minibus.

Hi, I'm Ruru Zhou
I updated this article on February 28, 2014
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