Hangzhou Night in West Lake 夜游西湖

This is the original. Over the years, many names have been given to this water body in Hangzhou, but none sticks like the original – the lake in the west side of town.

West Lake 西湖 is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, China. It is divided into five sections by three causeways. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake.

西湖古称“钱塘湖”,又名“西子湖”,古代诗人苏轼就对它评价道:“欲把西湖比西子,淡妆浓抹总相宜。”西湖形态为近于等轴的多边形,湖面被孤山及苏堤、白堤两条人工堤分割为5个子湖区,子湖区间由桥孔连通,各部分的湖水不能充分掺混,造成各湖区水质差异,大部分径流补给先进入西侧3个子湖区,再进入外西湖;湖水总面积5.593平方公里;,总容积1.10亿立方米,平均水深1.97 米;西湖底质是一种有机质含量特别高的湖沼相沉积,属于粉砂质粘土或粉砂质亚粘土,最上层皆为藻骸腐泥层(黑色有机质粘土),中层泥炭层或沼泽土,最下层为基底粉砂层;入湖河流部是短小的溪涧,主要补水河流为金沙涧、龙泓涧和长桥溪泄流。西湖,是一首诗,一幅天然图画,一个美丽动人的故事,不论是多年居住在这里的人还是匆匆而过的旅人,无不为这天下无双的美景所倾倒。

—— 郁达夫《杭州》

The view that launched a thousand poems

Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn (平湖秋月) – this is one of the classic Ten Views of West Lake 西湖十景 that was decided in Southern Song dynasty that had their capital in nearby Nanjing and passed down over centuries that make West Lake so famous.


Located at the west of Bai Causeway, facing the outer lake of West Lake, there is a broad platform stretching out of the water and forms a wide vision, it’s the best place to enjoy moon in Mid-autumn Festival.


And on the end of the platform, they built a pavilion. Perhaps the most famous pavilion around West Lake, Jixian Pavilion 集贤亭 (Pavilion of the Gathering Wisemen) is the point where you can get a picturesque view of West Lake in its entirety.

This is brand new reconstruction of the ill-fated rebuild that collapsed in 2012, which was a rebuild in 2002 of the demolished original from Qing dynasty. Remember, it is closed at night to prevent people from falling into the lake 😉

The most influential garden

West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics, and it has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers

The night is still young

As China modernise, the views and sights around West Lake caught up with the times. Youngsters want instagrammable views and sights so the original rustic beauties and views are not enough. Now you can see modern light installations around the lake, drowning out the beautiful natural sky with its light pollution.

Entertainment around the lake

And none of this is possible without financial support from the commercial activities around the lake. The rustic charm that I experienced back in the 80s and 90s have been rapidly rebuilt and replaced with modern malls that are run by the same folks in town. The lake is now surrounded by the same chain restaurants, each flaming to be the original Hangzhou cuisine.

For the record, there is only one original restaurant that remains open around the perimeter of the lake called 楼外楼 (“Tower beyond the tower”) because it was the only building back then outside the city limits. The rest are all imitates.

Jazz by the lake

And we have to up-class the entertainment around the lake too. There’s this very good jazz bar and restaurant located nearer to the Yue Fei Temple side of the lake that has been around since the 80s. The first set starts at 10pm, so go have your dinner and then come and enjoy some good music. For a table, there’s a minimum table charge that you need to spend.

Date Visited : May 2019

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