Southwest of Shanghai, and dating back to the Qin dynasty (221 – 206 BC) Hangzhou had evolved through the completion of the Grand Canal in 610 AD into a formidable trading centre by the time of the Ming Dynasty, but much of the original city would be subsequently destroyed by warfare during the period from 1861-1863.


The main attraction of the city for visitors is its West Lake area, with its pretty waterfront, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Two causeways stretch out across the water, the earliest of which is the tree-lined Bai Causeway, constructed in the ninth century AD, connecting the lake's northern shore with Gushan Island, the largest of two islands, a picturesque and popular walk. Gushan Island and its Zhongshan Park gardens was once the site of the imperial holiday palace for Emperor Qianlong (1711 -1799 AD).

The later and longer Su causeway cuts across the lake’s eastern side, from shore to shore, and is likewise a lovely serene strolling feature for both locals and visitors to the area.

In the centre of the lake is the Mid Lake Pavilion and Ruan Gong Islet, while southward Xiaoyong Island, which surrounds the ‘Three Pools Mirroring the Moon’. There are cruise boats, which regularly take visitors to visit the lake’s features, and paddleboats for private excursions can also be hired.

The beautiful lakeside is fringed with lovely gardens, bridges and pagodas, and a great and relaxing way to circumnavigate its tranquil charm is by bicycle.

At the western edge of the lake, the thoroughfare of Yanggondi connects a series of islets at the northern end of which is Quyuan Garden, a delightful sight, especially during the spring blossoms. At the southern end of Yanggondi is Red Carp Pond, home to a thousand carp. Both of these sights can also be accessed via Su Causeway.

At the north end of the lake, Huanglong Dong Park is a beautiful hilly forested area, ideal for a walk, and contains the Baochu Pagoda and Buddhist Temple, Ming Dynasty Effigies, Ziyun Cave and the Sunrise Terrace, while at the southern shore can be found the six Harmonies Pagoda, the China Silk Museum, China Tea Museum, and Xishao Hill overlooking Leifeng Pagoda.