When you visit Hangzhou, you can’t miss West Lake. It is the place where Jack Ma, founder of Ali Baba used to go to during his earlier year to practice English with the foreigners.
Where is Hangzhou?
From Shanghai to Hangzhou, the distance is 175km and the best way to reach Hangzhou is by high-speed rail which takes an hour and cost RMB50-80 (SGD 10-16.00). There are even direct flights from Singapore to Hangzhou so it is convenient. Hangzhou is the “emerging first-tier city” now in China. China’s city-tier classification is used to track city development. Cities are categorized into 4 respective tier.
Tier 1 cities are the largest and wealthiest, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. Recently Hangzhou has been promoted from second-tier to emerging first-tier city.
Our hotel in Hangzhou is located near West Lake, within walking distance of 10 mins. On the way to West Lake, there are many international brands, including, LV, H&M, Apple stores can be seen.
West Lake in Winter
It was early winter when I was here, the coldest month should be in January so there is still no snow yet. The good thing that you visit West Lake in the winter season is you don’t get too many tourist crowds. Still, there were crowds in West Lake when I was there in the mid of November. West Lake is truly beautiful, it is huge and I only got to see part of it on my first day of arrival in Hangzhou. West Lake is an iconic, symbolic sight in Hangzhou and is regarded as one of the most beautiful sights in China. I will visit again tomorrow on the other side of West Lake.
“Paradise on Earth”
With its beautiful lakes, mountains, and many other ancient architectures in the background, it has become the world-famous tourist destination and is also known as the “paradise on earth” 人间天堂.
West Lake musical fountain performance
The West Lake musical fountain performance is free which starts at 7 pm and 8 pm. There are chairs lined up in front of the lake for visitors. Seats are taken up fast and it was around 5 pm, those seats are almost all taken up. You are not allowed to stand in front of the seats. Security guards will chase you away if you stand in front of the seats once the performance starts. However, you can stand behind the seats. There are a few rows of seats lining up neatly before the performance starts.
We waited from 5 pm and finally, the performance start at 7 pm sharp. It was very cold while waiting for almost 2 hours in front of the West Lake. Nearby, some snacks stores and cafes are selling hot tea and coffee. We bought some snacks to fill up our hungry stomachs while waiting for the performance to start.
If you have seen the Singapore or Las Vegas musical fountain performances, then you may want to miss this one here. The scale is so much smaller, really not worth waiting for 2 hours in the cold. Furthermore, the crowds are just insane. If you come late, you will not be able to see the performance as the whole place will be blocked by people.
If you still insist on watching the West Lake musical performance, then I suggest you bring along insect repellent in the summer and a thick long jacket in the winter. Come around 5 pm to secure a seat with a good view.
West Lake Pedestrian Street at night
Dinner was Hangzhou signature dishes:
Beggars’ Chicken (叫花童子鸡) – Chicken is wrapped with lotus leaves.
Scallops with green and red pepper
West Lake is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, a huge place to explore which is divided into five sections. There are temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake. This part of West Lake that I visited on the first day of arrival in Hangzhou is where the musical fountain performance show is. Nearby, a lot of shopping areas and restaurants. For the following day, I will explore the other parts of West Lake.