Inner Circle

Garden Pleasures

The beauty and romance of the West Lake are irresistible

Garden Pleasures
The West Lake is both beautiful and dramatic — green hills rise above red pagodas on three sides of the lake, long humpbacked causeways skim the waters and paths wind their way from one breathtaking view to another among fragrant peach and camphor trees

When Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the 13th century, he described the city as the most magnificent in the world. Today it is not the city, but its pleasure garden, that captivates visitors.

The West Lake is both beautiful and dramatic — green hills rise above red pagodas on three sides of the lake, long humpbacked causeways skim the waters and paths wind their way from one breathtaking view to another among fragrant peach and camphor trees — but it’s also a drama, an unfolding series of scenes that are best enjoyed leisurely, taking time to follow the “path of the breeze” like visitors of old.

An impression and views

West Lake is the embodiment of a tradition, which began more than 1,000 years ago during the Tang Dynasty, of enhancing natural scenes to inspire people to contemplate the ephemeral and the eternal and project their feelings onto the landscape. In the 13th century, this ideal was enshrined in 10 evocatively named views that capture the character of the lake in the various seasons and at different times of the day. You should try to see the views related to the season of your visit, at the right time of day, to experience the garden as its designers intended.

Today, Lingering Snow on Broken Bridge is the most famous of these views, as the bridge is where the characters of the popular folk tale, Legend of White Snake, first meet and fall in love.

The tale of the 1,000-year-old snake that turns itself into a beautiful woman and marries a mortal is retold in Impression West Lake, a spectacular outdoor performance that uses part of the lake, five minutes’ walk from the hotel, as a natural stage.

Shangri-La Hotel, Hangzhou, with its laid-back resort-like atmosphere and serene views, is on the picturesque north side of the lake, nestled amongst beautiful private gardens on the slopes of the hill opposite Solitary Hill Island.

The island and lakeside are probably best explored on foot, but bicycles can be hired from the hotel and there are also hop-on-and-off electric carts that circle the lake clockwise. Effort has been made in recent years to make the lakeside barrier free.

The lake itself is well served by boats, the most enjoyable being the traditional wooden-canopied boats, with boatmen who stand at the stern working a long single oar.

Bells and buds

Venturing away from the lake, there are seven temples clustered close together in the hills about 15 minutes’ drive from the lake. Lingyin Temple, the Temple of Soul's Retreat, with its giant sitting Buddha is the most popular. However, the nearby Yongfu Temple, the Temple of Goodness, with meandering paths through its gardens and forests, is prettier and quieter; while at the top of North Peak, accessible by cable car for those who don’t fancy the walk up, is Lingshun Temple, the Temple of Wealth, which offers good views across the hills and valleys to West Lake.

Longjing , or Dragon Well, is a small, pretty village on Fenghuang Hill that is famous for its green tea. For a pleasant and easy walk after a leisurely lunch at one of the teahouse restaurants take a left at the main fork on the village road and follow the Jiuxi Scenic Trail.

Flavours to savour

It’s not surprising that tea features in one of the signature dishes of Hangzhou’s delicately seasoned and light-tasting cuisine, Longjing xiaren, shrimps gently stir-fried with tea leaves; nor that Hangzhou’s one-time governor, Su Shi, better known as the poet Su Dongpo, has a dish named after him, the melt-in-the-mouth Dongpo pork. Grandma’s Kitchen and Green Tea Restaurant, both of which can be found in a number of locations, are other good options for regional dishes.

The Shangri-La’s Shang Palace offers a Hangzhou Heritage tasting menu that includes both these dishes as well as other local favourites such as Beggar’s chicken, Song sour fish soup and honey lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice. Shangri-La’s other restaurant, Peppino, offers subtle twists on Italian classics, while La Pedrera, on the top of Geling Hill behind the hotel, offers authentic Spanish fare to satisfy your heart’s every desire.

 Make a booking at Shangri-La Hotel, Hangzhou Back to Destination 

Showing 1 comment

 
  1. Kim sunhyug (korea): 4 years, 5 months ago

    Almost Korea Company give only 7 days vacation a year to their employee.
    This area and sgrl hotel has enough value to invest their vacation.
    Very good and beautful place...

    Reply
 
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