Hangzhou and West Lake

Sometimes you look at a picture and think, yes, I’d like to go there. That was our first impression of West lake in hangzhou. The area suggested cycling and walking around the lake with boats gliding from one side to the other. A lovely place to take the kids.

It was also a great stopping point on our journey southwards.

Hangzhou city

Yet another town… except again it’s a city with similarities to Chengdu in that everything is fairly spread out. The only difference is that Hangzhou has West lake as a lovely focal point.

Where to stay

We decided (well I say we, but I picked this one as it had a washing machine!) to book a serviced apartment. I thought it would be nice to have some meals in and wth a washing machine I could catch up on some jobs.

Unfortunately the place we booked, West lake 7 services apartments weren’t serviced. Aside from a sink, hob and a kettle there were no facilities, no cutlery or pans etc… disappointing.

However, the location wasn’t too bad as we were close to a metro and train station. The walk to West lake was only about 15 minutes. It’s much easier to walk down the side streets, rather than xidu avenue as it’s so busy you have to go up and down subways to cross the road.

What’s there to do

As I mentioned the main focus is West lake and many Chinese spend their summer holidays here.

West lake is 13.5km in circumference with a number of sight seeing temples and pagodas around the lake.

There are a few options to get around. Firstly there are bicycles. This was advertised quite a lot, but it wasn’t until we got there that we realised that the route didn’t quite high the lake and the cycle route was a road back with only snippets next to the lake. Plus it’s a big city so access via main roads was very busy!

For this reason we decided against hiring bikes! It’s also a bit of a task to get the card needed to hire the bikes and pay a deposit. We were only there for 2 days so it didn’t seem worth the hassle!  There’s a link here to explain how you do it.

There are also shuttle buses around the walkways. The cost is RMB 40 to complete a full lap or its broken down into 4 sections of RMB 10 each. These were very popular and always seemed full.

There was also the many different boats on the lake. Guided boats, pleasure boats, self drive boats and tourist boats. We opted for the latter after walking 10km, so that we could return to our starting point.


Walking – this is our favoured and best budget option! The walkways are wide and easy to navigate, but we only managed around 10km. The heat was again taking its toll. We saw many families on the same route but most had buggies and bikes as the pathways were fairly flat and smooth.

The best part about the walk, aside from the stunning views were the lotus flower gardens! They were in flower and looked beautiful! We had a lovely stroll around one of the gardens.

Shopping – Hangzhou is another big city so shopping and malls are everywhere. We even found a Carrefour which had a fabulous range with some of our favourite treats!   It helped ease Keith’s pain of the apartment cost, ha ha!


A lovely stopover and walk around the lake. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to stop here as we’d already visited a number of cities in China and after Zhangjiajie we were a bit tired out from walking.

It just didn’t feelf like a stand-out place. Maybe I’ve got used to China delivering so many ‘wows’ that this just … Nice!  If it fits into your schedule then a short visit is all you’ll need.

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