West Lake is the symbol of Hangzhou. Marco Polo called Hangzhou the most enchanting city in all the world. Hills embrace the lake on three sides; the city proper lies to the east. Ancient Chinese people praised the West Lake area as a land of intoxicating beauty.
Once a small bay at the mouth of the Qiantang River, West Lake was separated from the sea by river sediment to become a lake. The lake and its islands cover an area of about six square kilometers.
Regarded by many as China's most beautiful lake, standing on its shores, West Lake was reputedly ancient China's most beautiful woman. The subject of many of the country's most famous literary and artistic works, and the inspiration for countless more, West Lake has been working its charms on those who gaze upon it for centuries.
The people of Hangzhou regard the West Lake as an important facet of their daily life. It is a place where they eat their meals, drink tea, and generally enjoy leisure time, often taking a stroll along its shores each evening before going to bed. The hotels, restaurants and teahouses around the lake all do a brisk trade.
Locals take great pleasure in going on rambles through the beautiful scenery, and can be seen in threes and fours taking a walk along the Bai and Su Causeways at all times.
On a fine day, some might ask for time off from work in order to relax by the lakeshore, and at weekends whole families go on outings, so each scenic spot is thronged with visitors. People sit on carpet-like lawns, and enjoy the spring sunshine as they replenish their energy with the food and drink they have brought from home. They chat, laugh and frolic against a background of beautiful flowers, and when sleepy, take a nap.
West Lake is a popular day trip included on many Shanghai travel itineraries. Visitors to the lake can plan to spend their time viewing the "Ten Scenes of the West Lake". A collection of ten scenic views formed during the Southern Song Dynasty, they are distributed around and within the lake, and serve to show the charms of the West Lake through a use of varying locations, varying seasons, and varying times of day. Each scene is unique, and when taken together, are said to present the essence of West Lake scenery, and form the core of any West Lake tour.
China tours inclusive of visiting West Lake, Hangzhou