The West Lake in Hangzhou is undoubtably it’s most famous tourist spot – every year thousands of visitors come to admire the beautiful water or take boat trips.
This was in fact my second time visiting Hangzhou, the first being back in 2014 while attending the SUFE summer school with a group of other Cambridge students. That time, we wandered around the edges of the lake and visited a few small temples and pagodas (the names and details of which I sadly didn’t record). We also had a short boat ride in a traditional-style Chinese boat, the guy even let some of us have a go paddling! This boat ride definitely felt like something put on for the tourists, but racing around the lake for half an hour was still great fun and if you go in a small group (of around 6 people) it doesn’t work out too expensive.
Today I returned to the West Lake, this time as part of a school trip organised by SJTU while I was taking part in their Summer Research Internship. Sadly it was a bit of a miserable day (you’ll have to look at the photos above to see what the lake looks like when the sun’s shining!) and traffic delays meant we were unable to spend as much time as I would have liked at the lake.
As we were a very large group, unfortunately we were just bundled onto a motor boat for a 20 minute crossing of the lake to our next location – the tour-like nature of the school trip sadly rather detracting from the beautiful scenery (although we were all rather grateful for the air-con…).
In the summer, the West Lake does get rather crowded and the hot, sticky climate can make it less enjoyable. Personally, I would advice visiting perhaps during the Spring or Autumn seasons, when there may be both less tourists and milder weather!