Impeccably landscaped and almost poetic in its beauty, Hangzhou’s West Lake (Xi Hu) is stunning in its beauty and sprawls over an expanse of 1,404 acres. Originally an inlet which was once connected to the sea, the shifting of silt ultimately created a shallow lake which now makes for one of the most popular day trips in all of Southern China. With an average depth of only 5 feet (1.5 meters) the placid waters provide a soothing centerpiece to a park complex rung by low hanging peaks, lazy willow trees and traditional Chinese architecture.
Many visitors to Hangzhou pay a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site for the mystique revolving around the enchanting “Ten Scenes of West Lake.” Regarded as ten of the most beautiful scenes found anywhere in the area, it’s possible to spend an entire day enjoying simple moments such as listening to orioles singing in the willow trees or watching the sunset from Leifeng Pagoda.
In addition to experiencing the ten scenes, a popular activity is to take an old style boat cruise out to Gu Shan—the lake’s only naturally occurring island—or to experience the feeling of gliding across the waters beneath 1,000 foot (305 meter) mountains dramatically known as “two peaks piercing the clouds.” Or, if you need a break from a day full of relaxing moments the nearby Longjing Tea Museum provides visitors the chance to educate themselves on everything from traditional Chinese tea culture to China’s longtime love affair with Longjing Tea. The Longjing Tea Museum is the only national level museum devoted entirely to tea, so be sure to try a cup of locally produced Longjing Tea made with the pure waters of nearby Running Tiger Spring.