Paradise on earth

A fertile land enveloped with crystal water that reflects flourishing trees and plants – natural scenery is Hangzhou’s charm.

With West Lake surrounded by mountains on three sides and its eastern side lying adjacent to Hangzhou city, natural waters and landscapes make the city a pearl of the Yangtze River Delta region.

It’s no exaggeration to say that water is the soul of Hangzhou, with West Lake attracting millions of tourists each year to more than 40 tourist attractions and 30 historical sites at all times of the year.

Duanqiao (Broken Bridge) at the east of Baidi (or Bai Dike, said to be built by the famous poet Bai Juyi of the Tang dynasty) is a bridge of love. Legend goes that a female white snake demon, Bai Suzhen, turned herself into a woman because she fell in love with a young scholar named Xu Xian at the picturesque bridge on the West Lake.

Located along the south route of West Lake, the Leifeng Pagoda is one of the lake’s 10 top scenic spots. The demon Bai is believed to be trapped under the pagoda, which was built during the Song Dynasty.

Together with the smaller and more delicate Baochu Pagoda on the northern shore, these two pagodas are an unforgettable sight at sunset.

Sudi (or Su Dike, built by scholar and top official Su Dongpo in the Song Dynasty) enjoys as much popularity as Baidi. These two dikes divide West Lake into five sections. Scholars, calligraphers and poets of various dynasties have been inspired by beauties of the landscape and left a legacy of poetry.

Another attraction is Xixi, or West Brook, where a wetland is home to abundant wildlife and a diversity of plants. This is the place to take a walk on the wild side.

The Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou was built according to instructions from Yang Guang, second emperor of the Sui Dynasty (581 – 618 AD). This waterway was built to transport the Emperor Qianlong (1711 - 1799) from Beijing to Hangzhou. At the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo described Hangzhou as “the City of Heaven, the most beautiful and magnificent in the world.”

Water in West Lake originates from streams in the western mountains and Qiantang River, where the most significant tide exists. Westwards of Qiantang River lies Fuchun River, Xin’an River and Qiandao Lake, offering a picturesque travel route with meandering waterways winding through stunning peaks.

Hangzhou’s beauty is unquestioned, but its beautiful scenery represents sometimes touching or doleful legends. It is no exaggeration to say that nearly every pavilion, bridge, temple and pagoda has a story to tell, some a thousand years old or more.