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The most famous attraction in Hangzhou is West Lake (Xi Hu /sshee hoo/). West Lake is man-made and created after the Chinese love for garden style parks for recreation.

Hangzhou's West Lake Scenic Area, in the southwest of the city, covers 60 square kilometers (23 square miles), of which West Lake itself occupies 5.6 square kilometers (2.2 square miles).

It was originally the center of the city, but now the Qiantang River is becoming the central feature as the south bank is developed in similar fashion to Shanghai’s Pudong District. West Lake is a place of tranquility where urbanity becomes a silhouette on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround it on the other three sides. The occasional pagoda and Chinese-style arched bridge add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways, verdant islands and hills.

To admire the beauty of West Lake, visitors can leisurely bike around the lake, walk around the lake or take a short cruise on the lake. Contact us to customize a Hangzhou tour. West Lake is considered as one of the best biking routes in China. See West Lake biking guide.

Travelers can take a boat cruise to visit some of its islands. There are many kinds of boats including large painted boats, small rowing boats and even self-rowing boats. See our West Lake Cruises.

The lake has a diameter of about 3 kilometers (2 miles) and a circumference of 15 kilometers (9 miles). There are three causeways or bridges across the lake and three man-made islands named San Tang Yin Yue (Three Pools Mirroring the Moon), Huxin Ting (Mid-Lake Pavilion) and Ruan Dunhuanbi (Ruan’s Mound, after the Governor of Zhejiang in 1800, Ruan Yuan).

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