West Lake sunset walks, traditional shops
and riverside restaurants
Nature is never far away in Hangzhou: breathtaking West Lake, framed by hills on three sides and with charming pavilions dotting its shoreline, is within easy reach of the city centre. Stroll across the causeway that divides the lake, or take a boat ride to beautiful Three Pools Mirroring the Moon island.
Approaching Leifeng Pagoda on the southern lakeshore, you’ll feel as if you’ve been teleported into Hangzhou’s past. Illuminated at night, the octagonal tower was painstakingly reconstructed on the site of the 10th-century original, which collapsed in 1924.
You could lose yourself for days in Hangzhou’s glittering shopping malls and department stores, but for old-school retail therapy look no further than Nansongyu Street or Huimin Road. Both are lined with traditional shops, ancient teahouses and colourful street stalls.
To dine like a local, head away from the bustling centre to Jianguo North Road, where lively restaurants serving ma la xiang guo, spicy Sichuan hotpot, are tucked into alleyways leading down to the Donghe River. Nearby, other restaurants serve the delicious Hangzhou favourite, Dongpo pork, stewed in rice wine and best washed down with Dragon Well tea, which is grown in the area. Or order sweet and sour fish, made from the daily West Lake catch.
After dark, satisfy your cultural urges by taking in a West Lake Impressions show. The outdoor performances of traditional song and dance use the surrounding trees and rocks as natural props. The dancers appear to walk on water and will certainly leave you with a lasting impression of your time in this magical city.