The Xixi Wetlands resort in Hangzhou is a bit away from the city (naturally (pun intended!) as these are wetlands) but not terribly out of the way either. It's basically a vast, sprawling nature reserve with well defined paths (causeway or boardwalks) throughout reserve and beautiful fairy tale like scenery most of the time. Add to these scores of those typically Chinese lovely humped (arched) bridges and pagodas and pavilions to add to the exotic feel.
It's a wonderful day out if you love nature. You can lost yourself photographing the fairy tale like scenery, and the exotic ancient buildings. And also the park dates way, way back to the dynasties, it was recently re-furbished and thrown open to the public only in 2005.
When I visited, May 2017, the place was a tad crowded due to the local school holidays and a forthcoming local festival. I had Chinese friends with me, so language was no problem.
Although mostly spectacular greenery and water, with ancient pagodas (or replicas thereof) thrown in and humped (arched) bridges, there are a couple of built up areas housing cafes, coffee shops, restaurants etc. Many of the restaurants on site were empty, despite the crowds, and there is one Starbucks outlet in there as well.
I particularly enjoyed an indoor exhibition of dragon boats- the tradition of dragon boat racing has a major presence here- may have even started here.
For all the water around, wildlife was lax- I saw just one heron and one mamma duck with her two chicks, that too mostly hidden among lotus leaves in a lovely lotus pond.
You can enter from any one of several entrances, quite close to one of which is a bit of a marshland with tall grasses on both sides with a boardwalk running right through it.
A good place to spend several hours if you love nature, greenery and checking out exotic Chinese traditional architecture! At one spot inside the reserve, you can also take a long boat ride (large electric boat) through the waters of the reserve. The reserve itself consists of lakes and rivers criss-crossing the lakes.
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