20 Foreigners Experience a Unique Christmas at Qiandao Lake, Hangzhou, China

2019-01-08
The water glistened a clear blue-green and the winter sun reflected a multitude of sparkling ripples. On Christmas Eve, Qiandao Lake prepared an unforgettable festive treat, where the laughter and excitement of 20 foreign tourists could be heard for miles. Kayaking, karting, and cycling on the most beautiful greenway around the breathtaking Qiandao Lake, the 20 foreigners were simply amazed by the many activities Qiandao Lake had to offer. In their words, “To be honest, we didn’t expect there to be so many great activities in Qiandao Lake. Also, the views of the islands are literally breathtaking. You can take a boat, go kayaking, and enjoy the view of the many islands while cycling. Besides, the local Qiandao food is so tasty. We just love it. We can surely say that when you visit China, Qiandao Lake should be top of your list of places to visit. We have traveled to countless places in China, but Qiandao Lake is, by far, our favorite!”

About Qiandao Lake
Qiandao Lake is where rural meets urban and is only a 300km drive west from Shanghai. In 1959, the construction of the Xin’an River Hydropower Station created the lake. This station was one of China’s first ambitious hydropower dam projects that pushed the country to becoming the world’s largest producer of hydropower. Fed from the peaks and foothills of Yellow Mountain and the surrounding Xin'anjiang National Park, the lake has over 100 species of fish. China rates it as a national first-class lake, and Nongfu Spring, a major bottled water company, sources its famous product from the lake.

What to Do
Riparian life varies between local farming and fishing villages to the burgeoning tourism economy.  You can explore the lake cruising to islands such as Monkey Island and Bird Island, the former a host to monkeys and the latter, ostriches, and peacocks. 

If you are looking to remain on land, there is plenty to keep you occupied. Hire a bike and explore the Greenway, a cycle path that spans 140km and borders the water.  Challenge friends and family to go-karting near Cheerday Beer Town, the home of Cheerday’s brewery. Take a kayak out on the water, explore the history of Lion City, a town rebuilt after it’s submerged original, or detox your lungs from the city smog at an oxygen forest bar.

About the Food
In terms of local delicacies, the area is rich in produce and most dishes include fish and shrimp.  Here the fish is fresh, succulent, steamed to perfection and served with light vinegar and soy sauce. The area is also famous for Fish Head Soup, a milky white ginger broth with tofu, yam, and bamboo shoots. If fish head makes you feel uneasy, then you can simply enjoy the vegetables and the soup broth, perfect after a long day of sightseeing.

How to get there?
From Shanghai, catch a high-speed train to Hangzhou East Railway Station (~1.5 hours), then ride the newly-opened line from Hangzhou to Qiandaohu Station (~1.5 hours).

Where to stay?
Depending on your budget, the Intercontinental and Hilton are reliable five-star hotels that both have locations along the lake and keep up their international reputation. English is spoken by senior management, and the buffet caters to both Western and Chinese tastes.

You can also find many smaller hotels that provide a more local and intimate atmosphere.  Suggested is the Readwood, a boutique hotel with a spectacular view over the lake. The manager speaks perfect English and is passionate about showing visitors the lake.