There is a saying in Chinese that goes: Just as There is Paradise in Heaven, There are Suzhou and Hangzhou on Earth – 上有天堂，下有苏杭. We visited Suzhou yesterday and got a piece of this heaven. Today, we planned on visiting the rest of heaven in our Hangzhou one day itinerary.
We took the train from Suzhou and arrived at Hangzhou Railway Station two hours later.
At Hangzhou Railway station, we bought a Z card, which would let us take the metro and also rent a public bicycle. We applied for the card at the station control by showing our passports as validation and depositing 200RMB. We also put in another 30RMB for metro transportation/ bicycle rental costs. The deposit and remaining balance can be refunded at any public bicycle service spot or Smart Card Center. Click here and here for more information.
Hyatt Regency Hangzhou
We took the metro from the railway station and alighted two stops later at the Long Xiang Qiao station. From there, it was a five-minute walk to our hotel. We were given a complimentary upgrade to the Garden Suites, which came with a large private outdoor balcony. The room itself was great too!
Hyatt Regency Hangzhou Breakfast
What we really liked about the hotel was the buffet breakfast! There was such a huge variety and the food was delicious.
West Lake (西湖) is a iconic freshwater lake in Hangzhou. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Hangzhou.
West Lake Attraction: Liulang Wenying Park
We started by taking a tourist tram to the Liulang Wenying Park (Orioles Singing in the Willows). The park was indeed as beautiful as we had seen in the pictures, we spotted a few orioles among the foliage of the willow trees.
West Lake Attraction: Leifeng Pagoda
From here, we rented a bike and cycled to Leifeng Pagoda. The structure was constructed in AD 975, and rebuilt again in 2002 after it collapsed in 1924.
West Lake Attraction: Jingci Temple
Next, we cycled to Jingci Temple, which was originally built in AD 954. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history. Much of the present temple was restored in the 1980s.
Within the temple, there is a bronze bell weighing over 10,000 kilograms. The Lotus Sutra, with more than 68,000 characters, is carved on it.
I paid a nominal fee to ring the giant bell with a wooden log.
West Lake Attraction: Huagang Park
After ringing the bell, we cycled to Huagang Park (Flower Harbour) to view the numerous koi-s swimming in the Red Carp Pond.
West Lake Attraction: Three Pools Mirroring the Moon
We strolled to the Huagang Wharf and bought boat tickets to Three Pools Mirroring the Moon. This is an artificial island situated in the south-western part of West Lake. The “three pools” refer to the three pagodas near the island, which have hollows in which lamps can be placed, creating the illusion of moon reflections on the lake. This gave rise to the island’s name.
West Lake Attraction: Yue Fei Temple
From here, we took a boat ride to the wharf opposite Yue Fei Temple. This is a temple built in honour of Yue Fei, a legendary general of the Southern Song dynasty. It was originally constructed in 1221.
West Lake Attraction: Su Causeway
We rented a bike from a bicycle service spot opposite the temple and cycled to the Su Causeway. This bridge is three kilometres long and connects the North and South shores of West Lake. The poet-official Su Dongpo built it during the Northern Song Dynasty. There are six stone bridges along the causeway and it is lined with beautiful willow trees.
West Lake Attraction: Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake
The last West Lake attraction we visited was the Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake. Unfortunately, even though it was autumn and the lake was calm, it was too cloudy and we did not manage to catch the reflection of the moon over the calm lake. However, we did mange to take some pictures of the scenic night view.
Lou Wai Lou
After a day of cycling, we finally settled at the famous Chinese restaurant Lou Wai Lou for dinner. We returned our bikes at the bicycle service spot opposite Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake, and walked to the restaurant.
The façade of the three-storey restaurant is modeled after Chinese style architecture. I was blown away by the majestic interior of the restaurant. Large sparkling chandeliers hang from the ceilings along with beautiful Chinese paintings lining the walls, and the restaurant is huge. On the second floor, you can enjoy your dinner on the patio while reveling in the beauty of the tranquil West Lake.
Lou Wai Lou – Longjing Tea
Lou Wai Lou – Beggars Chicken
Lou Wai Lou – Abalone Soup
Lou Wai Lou – Lady Song’s Fish Soup
Lou Wai Lou Review – A Decent But Expensive Meal
We ordered the signature dishes: Beggars Chicken, Lady Song’s Fish Soup, Abalone Soup, Dong Po Pork, and two cups of Longjing Tea.
We enjoyed the Longjing tea, which was medium-bodied with the distinctive rich fragrance of Longjing tea leaves. The Dong Po Pork was juicy and tender, and as I bit into the meat, I could taste the savoury juices seeping into my mouth.
This was an expensive meal which set us back 424RMB. The dishes tasted decent, but this was definitely not the best meal we had had in China (despite being the most expensive).
Impressions West Lake
After the meal, we made our way to Yuehu Lake for the highlight of our Hangzhou one day itinerary, the Impressions West Lake show. The show is choreographed by Zhang Yimou, who also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
This was a spectacular show that is testament to Zhang Yimou’s artistic talent and creativity. Right from the onset, we were captivated by the intimate storytelling, the clever use of West Lake to create spectacular theatrical effects, the beautiful Chinese costumes, and of course, the well-choreographed performances.
Impressions West Lake has high production value and is a must-watch if you are visiting Hangzhou!
After the show, we walked to Shangri-La Hotel Hangzhou where the friendly hotel staff helped us to call a cab to Hubin Road. This is a upscale district of luxury brand shops, restaurants, and shopping malls. We strolled along the road back towards our hotel and settled for the night. We were glad to finally get a rest after an entire day of walking and cycling!
Hangzhou One Day Itinerary
|8am||Train to Hangzhou|
|9am||Train to Hangzhou|
|10am||Arrive at Hangzhou Railway Station!|
|11am||Check in at Hyatt Regency Hangzhou|
|5pm||Dinner @ Lou Wai Lou|
|6pm||Dinner @ Lou Wai Lou|
|7pm||Impressions West Lake|
|8pm||Impressions West Lake|
|9pm||Impressions West Lake / Hubin Road|