There are around 36 West Lakes in this country, but ours is the original, and the best. It’s not real of course. Well, it’s real in the sense that it is a body of water located inland, but let’s just say it’s received numerous facelifts. It started to take form around 12,000 years ago at the mouth of the Qiantang River. Around 2,000 years back, then came a sandbar that created a lagoon, and 600 years after, a lake finally formed. Since then, there’ve been dredgings, silting, dredgings, silting... till it’s made it to its present size and shape. Through the years, it’s seen the creation of two causeways and formation of three islands (that’s right, they’re human-made too!). That’s a whole lotta work to draw tourists, but it’s worked.
The best island is Fairy Islet, which is a bit funky with its lakes within the island within the lake. There’s the Nine-Turn Bridge (a standard for any garden) and of course the infamous Three Pools Mirroring the Moon. They are a symbol of the city (you’ve seen them on the taxis) but are only properly viewed during the Moon Festival. You can only get to the islands by boat, and there are lots of spots to hop on all around the lake.
But why are we telling you about this now in the heat of the summer? Because, only in the summer can you get in on the nighttime cruises, and since it’s hot, this is the best time to be on the lake. There are two main routes, neither of which drops you onto the islands, but you do get to stop by and take a gander at Three Pools. But to be honest, summertime, with all of the tourists piled onto them, isn’t the best time to appreciate the islands. Have some dinner at a spot around the lake and then get onboard and take in the spectacular night view from our West Lake.
Nighttime Cruises: #2 Park, #5 Park, Children’s Palace and Broken Bridge 二公园，五公园，六公园和断桥
Adults: Big Boat-25RMB, Islands-20RMB.
Children: Big Boat-12.5RMB, Islands-10RMB.
Small Boat (4 people max.): 80RMB/hour.
Self-drive boats: 40RMB/hr for a 4-seater; 50RMB/hr for a 6-seater.