Qiandao Hu (Thousand Island Lake) (Hangzhou)

A visit to Qiandao Hu (Qiāndǎo Hú, 千島湖) quickly reveals the source of the name. Literally translated, it means “Thousand Island Lake” and indeed, at last count the 573 sq km (221 sq mi) body of water is home to 1,078 large islands and thousands more smaller ones.New-Century-Resort-Qiandao-Lake-Hangzhou-photos-Exterior[1]
In a previous incarnation, the area was rolling countryside. Then it was intentionally flooded in 1959 to create an enormous reservoir. The result is a dramatic landscape of lush, green hilltop islands as far as the eye can see, set in waters the color of jade, which are now the source of China’s most famous brand of mineral water, Nongfu Spring.
Around 30 m (98.4 ft) below the sparkling surface lies the ancient town of Lion City (Shī Chéng, 狮城), dating all the way back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-200 AD) and remaining as it was when the waters engulfed it. For those with an adventurous nature and a scuba license, the Shanghai dive club Big Blue organizes regular trips out for a bit of eerie underwater exploration.
For those who prefer to remain more or less above the surface, there’s still plenty to occupy, with excellent food, numerous boat trips and tours around the islands and twelve official scenic areas. Water sports including windsurfing, sailing and fishing are all on offer, along with four yachting clubs and China’s first sightseeing submarine.
The lake’s huge expanse means that although some areas are becoming more touristed and fringed with hotel construction, it is always possible to find a secluded spot, and there are some charming local hotels scattered along the water’s edge. If you’re looking to make a reservation in advance, however, your options will be limited to the bigger Qiandaohu hotels and resorts.
Buses run regularly from Hangzhou, itself easily accessible by plane from all over the country. If you have access to your own vehicle or can rent a car, it’s a great place to explore independently, though construction and improvements to the roads can sometimes cause delays. There is now also a new highway between Qiandao Hu and the Huang Shan scenic area in neighboring Anhui, linking three of the region’s most picturesque destinations and making for a very rewarding road trip. Another option from Huang Shan is to take a pleasure boat from Shenshui.
Qiandaohu climate
The subtropical climate and the dense tree coverage make the area fairly humid all year round. With four distinct seasons, temperatures drop to 2-8ºC during January and February, climbing quickly to 14ºC going into spring which begins early, in March. Summer (June to September) is long and humid with temperatures regularly hitting 33ºC and plenty of rainfall early on. Fall is the best time to visit with temperatures cooling off to an average 20 ºC, lots of sunshine and little rain.


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