Located in the west of Hangzhou, Zhejiang, Xixi Wetland is about five kilometers from West Lake. It has been called the "Three West" (三西), along with West Lake and the Xiling Society of Seal Arts - 西泠印社: with the longest history, the highest achievement and the widest influence on the study of seal cutting, the Xiling Society of Seal Arts is a famous academic society.
Located in Gushanxilu of the West Lake scenic region, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, covering an area of 7,088.86 square meters and a gross floor area of 1,749.77 square meters, there are many ancient buildings and garden relics from the Ming and Qing dynasties in it. The total area of the wetland is about 11.5 square kilometers, among which 3.46 square kilometers have been developed into an open region - the core of Xixi wetland.
70% of the wetland is a water area, including a river harbor, pool, lake and moor. Six rivers flow through the park, interspersed with many branching streams and fishponds in the confluence. All of these contribute to the unique landscape of Xixi wetland.
Xixi is a good place indeed with fresh air, a peaceful environment and few tourists. The whole scenic region of Xixi can be divided into three parts: the eastern part, the central part and the western part. The eastern and western parts cost 80 yuan, the central part is free. Usually, tourist groups only visit the central part, as souvenir shops and restaurants are central in this part, leaving the eastern and western parts as silent places. The eastern part is a natural scenic spot, while the western part is comparatively an artificial spot.
The formation of Xixi wetland can be dated back to the Liangzhu culture (良渚文化), four or five thousand years ago. It is the birthplace of the Hangzhou culture. At that time, the land of Xixi was waterlogged into a big lake by the flood from Tianmu Mountain (天目山) during spring and summer; when the flood receded, the wetland was formed. That was the first stage of Xixi wetland.
The forming stage lasted for about 1,000 years, from the construction of the South Lake in 172 AD (the first year of the Xiping Period, Donghan Dynasty) to the end of the Tang Dynasty, the period of "Five Dynasties and Ten States" (907-979 AD).
During the Song and Yuan dynasties, the government of Song started to build Xixi Town there in 988 AD, which marked a new developmental stage of Xixi. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the social economy and culture around Xixi got an all-round development - fishing, silkworms, farm production of bamboo, tea and other multiple agriculture and sideline occupations.
However, after the Republic of China (1912-1949), the wetland grew smaller. With the foundation of several villages around Xixi, and the development of industrial enterprises, the area gradually became smaller in the 1950s.
Fortunately, the integrative conservation project carried out by the Hangzhou government nowadays brings Xixi wetland a new life.
Since ancient times, the amazing landscape and simple idyllic scenery of Xixi have been loved by literati; each attraction has left behind an immortal poem, artwork or inscription. It has always been regarded as an ideal place for leisure, regimen and seclusion, a lost paradise, a pure land.
Many scenic spots were built by ancient refined scholars, such as Qiuxue Hut (秋雪庵, the first site in Xixi, an isolated island; you need to take a boat to get there), Bo Hut (泊庵, a manor in the reeds which was built in the Ming Dynasty, in the southern part of Qiuxue Hut), the Mountain Villa of the Plum and the Bamboo (梅竹山庄, famous for its beautiful plum blossoms and bamboo), and Xixi Cottage (西溪草堂, next to a pool of still water).
Important figures, such as Emperor Gaozong of the Song Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi, and Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty had been to Xixi and left their poems there. What's more, Xixi is also the place where the northern artists of the Shaoxing Opera presented their premiere show to an audience.
Yanshui Fish Shop (烟水渔庄)
It is located in the south of Yanshui Hut (烟水庵), close to Zhaotianmuyang (朝天暮漾). Buildings in it are mostly built in a double-story garden-style.
Yanshui represents three scenes: willows, clouds, and chimney smoke. Sitting beside a pool of still water, the reflection of willows is in the water, the clouds are floating above in the sky, and smoke curls slowly from the chimney; it's as if you were in a paradise. You can also go to the top of a three-story building called Yanshui Pavilion (烟水阁), viewing the panorama of Zhaotianmuyang.
The fish shop serves local delicacies and all kinds of tasty fish dishes in different flavors. Listen to gentle music, taste a delicious meal, drink a cup of tea, have a hearty talk with your families and friends, forget all your trifles and troubles; it is really a good gathering place for you to enjoy a relaxing moment. After dinner, go fishing or walk along the causeway if you like.
Bo Hut (泊蓭草堂)
The history of it dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD). It was built in a land of tufted reeds and, looking from above, the hut looks like a fairy island flowing above water, hence the name of Bo (泊, means berth in Chinese). The peaceful environment has remained there. You will have the feeling of returning to nature there.
Xixi Water Pavilion (西溪水阁)
Literati who loved Xixi from ancient times left numerous copies of poems and calligraphy works there. The pavilion is mainly used as a library for book collections, for reading and as a meeting place for literary men. There are two libraries in the pavilion-Lanxi Book House (兰溪书屋) and Yongshu Book House (拥书楼)-so that tourists can follow the footprints of ancient literati in a strong cultural atmosphere.
The Mountain Villa of the Plum and the Bamboo (梅竹山庄)
It was built by Zhang Cibai, a literatus in Qiantang, the Qing Dynasty (1777-1857 AD). It is famous for its beautiful plum blossoms and bamboo.
Also named Deep Pond Harbor, it is located in Shentankou Village, Jiangcun County. It is an isolated village in the middle of a river, so that tourists need to take a boat to get there. With big camphor trees that are 400 years old standing on both sides of the river, the traditional Dragon Boat Festival is held there annually. When the dragon boats, local people and tourists are all gathered there for the Dragon Boat contest, it is a very bustling place!
Xixi Plum Blossom Villa (西溪梅墅)
Located in the south-eastern part of the park, close to Qiuxue Hut, along with the Mountain Villa of the Plum and the Bamboo, Xixi Cottage and Xixi Water Pavilion, Xixi Plum Blossom Villa makes up the "Xixi Plum Blossom and Bamboo Recreation Area" (西溪梅竹休闲区). Since ancient times, the plum blossom in Xixi has been very famous and it attracts many literati to see it.
Xixi Cottage (西溪草堂)
Located in the "Xixi Plum Blossom and Bamboo Recreation Area", in the south-east of the Xixi wetland, the owner of Xixi Cottage was the well-known scholar from the Ming Dynasty, Feng Mengzhen (冯梦祯, 1546-1605). He was good at writing poetry and fond of collections. A pool of still water is next to the cottage, featuring a peaceful environment and boundless landscape. You can appreciate the plum blossom and bamboo in the northern part of the cottage.
Qiuxue Hut (秋雪庵)
Qiuxue Hut, in the central part of Xixi, is the most beautiful spot of the park. Go there by boat for it is surrounded by water. Xixilu (西溪芦) was one of "the 18 sights in West Lake" in the Qing Dynasty, and Qiuxue Hut is the best position to view it from. There is a free viewing area near the park, with a small tower standing there; it is a place where you can overlook the panorama of the wetland.
Festivals and Activities in Xixi Wetland
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival is a lively affair where thousands of people fill the causeways of Shentankou and Wuchang River to watch the match and celebrate it. It is a great opportunity to watch traditional Chinese opera, a Wushu performance, the wonderful dragon lantern dance and the lion dance performances on the ancient stage. Also, various handicraft articles and local snacks are offered during the festival. This affair symbolizes the qualities of braveness and adamancy of the local Xixi people, and the wish to pursue a better life. Read more on Dragon Boat Festival in Xixi Wetland
Huoshi Festival (火柿节)
First held in 2006, the tradition is still maintained today. From September to October, in the season of persimmons, with heavy fruits hanging in the trees, tourists not only can see a flourishing harvest scene in Xixi, but can also participate in many relevant interactional activities: to pick persimmons, to learn the culture of persimmons, to taste the sweet fruit and take some home to share with families and friends.
Gantang Festival (干塘节)
"Gantang" means to draw water from a fishpond until it is dry, and catch fish in it. In order to maintain fishponds and keep the fish growing well into the next year, the Xixi people have the custom to dry fishponds, clean the mud in them, catch the fish and then have a big fish meal before the Chinese New Year.
During the festival, you can rent waterproof clothing (50 yuan per hour) and participate in "Gantang" activities. Fish, shrimps, finless eels or any other aquatic products you catch do not incur an extra fee.
Transportation in Xixi Wetland
You have three choices: walk along the paths, take a motorboat on the outer river way, or take a gondola on the inner river way.
Walking routes: Zhoujia Village (周家村, the main entrance of the park) - the Mountain Villa of the Plum and the Bamboo (梅竹山庄) - Bo Hut (泊庵草堂) - Yanshui Fish Shop (烟水渔庄) -Xiaogu Bridge (小姑桥) - Shentankou (深潭口)- west side footpath of Shentangang (深潭港西侧游步道) - Xialong Beach Conservation Zone (虾龙滩保护区) -Xixi Water Pavilion (西溪水阁) - Xixi Plum Blossom Villa (西溪梅墅). About 8 kilometers long, the route takes more than 3 and a half hours.
By gondola (recommended): Zhoujia Wharf (周家码头)- Xixi Plum Blossom Villa (西溪梅墅)-Xixi Water Pavilion (西溪水阁) - Qiushui Hut (秋雪庵) - Zhoujia Wharf (周家码头).
Take your time during the tour; a combination of walking and boating is perfect if you want to travel throughout the whole park.
Opening times： 08:00-17:30 from April 1st to October 31st (the sale of boat tickets is stopped and the entrance closes at 16:30) ; 08:30-17:00 from November 1st to March 31st (the sale of boat tickets is stopped and the entrance closes at 16:00)
Location: 518 Tianmushan Road, West Lake District, Hangzhou, Zhejiang (浙江省杭州西湖区天目山路518号)
How to get there: Bus route 306, 346, 830, K310, K506 or Y13. Get off at Zhoujiacun (Xixi Wetland) Station.
The park is big covering an area of about 10 square kilometers. there are several entrances to the park.
East entrance : Xixi Paradise (西溪天堂), Zijingang Road (紫金港路)
North entrance: Wen'erxi Road (文二西路)
There are also Tianmushan Road entrance (天目山路入口), Sanqifudi (三期福堤) entrance, Zhoujiadu entrance (周家渡), Wuchangdadao entrance (五常大道), and Longshezui entrance (龙舌嘴).