The most enjoyable way to see the lake is to hire a bike, take a romantic gondola-style boat-ride or board the impressive dragon-shaped tour boat for excursions across the lake. A totally inspiring venue, West Lake is constantly frequented by large crowds and yet it maintains a subdued stillness. The Leifeng Pagoda is the temple that sits atop the most prominent hillside, overlooking the entire lake. Although very little remains of the original pagoda (displayed in an underfloor glass enclosure), there’s an intricate display of wooden carvings as well as incredible skyline views from the top.
The city itself is particularly good for shopping, with numerous late-night shopping centres and adjoining restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Make a trip to Tiyuchang Road – Hangzhou China Silk Road – and walk the peaceful, leafy boulevard adorned in paper lanterns and a mirage of silk in every shape, pattern, size and colour imaginable. The exquisite 100% pure silk is, quite simply, sublime and you won’t find silk of this quality and at these prices anywhere in the west.