My two days in Hangzhou and the beautiful West Lake district | Hangzhou, China | Our short visit to Hangzhou, also known as the West Lake, was rather short but marvelous. We came from Shanghai ( over an hour ride by speed train ). One of eastern China’s natural jewels, the 650-hectare (1,600-acre) lake is surrounded by a lush green shoreline, with views of majestic mountains, ancient temples, traditional pagodas and graceful bridges.
Our visit consisted on a lovely private tour of the West Lake Park + Visit to the Lingyin Temple – biggest Buddhist temple in China + Panoramic walk and views from atop the Peak Mountain – highest mountain in Hangzhou – and visit to the Lingshun Temple + Lunch and site inspection of the lovely Amanfayun by Aman Resorts + Some shopping at the main commercial center + A fantastic stay at my favorite Four Seasons property in China, the Fours Seasons West Lake.
First stop was, over a private tour, at the gorgeous West Lake. It is like visiting the world’s largest traditional Chinese garden, with ancient temples, pagodas and delicate bridges. Hangzhou and particularly the West Lake, UNESCO World Heritage Site, are considered one of China’s most famous and beautiful destinations. 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 in China, Japan and Korea.
We came to visit the Fayun Village, invited by the Amanfayun Resort by Aman Resort – following our previous experience at the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing – where we spent half day touring around the many highlights, like the Lingyin Temple – biggest Buddhist temple in China. Panoramic walk – pretty long and steep by the way, atop the Peak Mountain – highest mountain in Hangzhou – and visit to the Lingshun Temple.
Literally translated as Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, Lingyin Temple, located next to the Amanfayun Resort, is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, and contains numerous pagodas and Budddhist grottoes.
Our panoramic walk, atop the Peak Mountain – Feilai Feng. Of course once on top, we realized we could have taken in full comfort, one of their cable cars… ha ha ha… but honestly our option was much more enjoyable.
Next stop was lunch at the Steam House Restaurant at the lovely Amanfayun resort. Nestled in a valley near West Lake on the west fringes of Hangzhou, Amanfayun is surrounded by ancient temples, bamboo forests and terraced tea fields, a world away from urban life. Discoveries await throughout the peaceful resort as well as the region beyond, whether it is a morning prayer session with Buddhist monks, a soothing nature walk or a visit to a neighbouring tea plantation. We tried some local small dishes and a fantastic steam fish dish. After that we followed the General Manager of the property on a full site inspection of the resort.
Next and last stop, before heading to our hotel for the night, was a walk along the main Chinese Market of the West Lake District. Lots of local shops, medicine houses, tea stores among many others. Was quite interesting to mingle with the locals, although I would have expect this to be more driven to tourists. Here we found our own Pixiu which we brought back to the United States with us. Pixiu is a Chinese mythical hybrid creature considered to be a very powerful protector to practitioners of Feng Shui. It resembles a mix of a dragon and a lion.
Final stop for the rest of our stay in the West Lake District, was the beautiful, peaceful and relaxing Four Seasons Hangzhou. A tranquil enclave woven with ponds, streams, swans and lagoons. Once we got to the resort, we never left till our time to head back to the train station, to head back to Shanghai. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner was outdoors at the many restaurants around the property. Infinity pond overlooking the West Lake. Imperial style indoor pool.
Off we went back to Hangzhou Railway Station, to take our train back to Shanghai, to continue our journey in China. And now that I am back, after visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, I must say that the West Lake, together with the Summer Palace in Beijing, both rank top on my choice to return. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com
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