Weekender guide to Qiandaohu

Escape the city with a trip to the lake of 1,000 islands

It's always good to get out of Beijing. If you have a penchant for scenic views and hiking, Qiandaohu (千岛湖) is an ideal weekend getaway. Otherwise known as the Thousand Islets Lake, it lies about 150km west of Hangzhou in Chun’an county. It’s the largest National Forest Park in China, boasting 95 percent forest coverage and housing more than 1,800 species of plants and around 2,000 species of animals.

While it’s possible to spend a few days or so exploring, a one-night weekend trip can pack in the best that this beautiful part of the country has to offer.

Getting there

The full journey from Beijing to Qiandaohu takes around five hours – fly to Hangzhou (two-and-a-half hours; return flights from 1,300RMB on ctrip.com) and then ride the two-hour bus to Qiandaohu. At the lake, a ferry from the Southeast Lake District Ferry Terminal will bring you to two islands, Huangshajian and Tianchidao. We recommend following this route, which takes four hours – including both time on the ferry and the islands.

Huangshanjian island

You’ll only spend an hour at this location, so snap those photos while you can. To reach the top you can either take the cable car or hike for 20 minutes up the hill. Go up in the cable car and hike down to get
the best of both worlds and a different perspective on the wonderful views.

Tianchidao island

Tianchidao, or 'Heaven’s Pond Island', has several landmarks, most notably the eponymous pond and Bird Island. You have two hours to wander around this island before getting back on the ferry, so make it count. Tianchi Island was formed by miners during the Song Dynasty and is now home to colourful koi fish that you can feed for 10RMB. Cross the Prosperity Bridge to continue your journey on to Bird Island. The walk to Bird Island is around 15 minutes or you can opt for a tram ride. If you’re not in a hurry, we’d suggest a leisurely saunter down the road to take in the island’s full beauty. Once there, witness exotic birds such as peacocks flaunting their impressive tail feathers. There is also a bird display where you can place money in your hands for the birds to swoop down and grab. It’s supposed to be good luck, but remember, it’s non-refundable, so we wouldn’t recommend flashing any 100RMB notes.

Stay the night

A number of Western hotel chains have built lakeside properties in recent years, and room rates are competitive. The jewel in the crown is arguably the InterContinental (rooms from 1,500RMB, including tax), with its infinity pool and panoramic views from every room, but the Sheraton (from 900RMB) and Hilton (800RMB) also offer affordable lakeside luxury.

By Kong Tin Jun

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