"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

Visit Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

October 2017. Wherever you happen to be on Hangzhou’s West Lake, you simply can’t miss the mystical form of Leifeng Pagoda jutting dramatically out of the greenery. It really does cut a handsome figure, even on a smoggy day like this one. Hence Wonderboy and I decided we would slowly make our way around the lake towards it.

Visit Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

Dating back to AD 977, Leifeng Pagoda is a five story, eight-sided structure said to be the oldest colourful bronze pagoda in China. Naturally it attracts a steady flow of visitors every day of the year. Our visit however was during the chaos of Golden Week, thus we were expecting crowd levels to be nothing short of insane. 

Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

Escalator to Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou China.

Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

Having queued up for over half an hour just to get our tickets (and that included some cunning queue cutting), we finally joined the throng of visitors heading up to the pagoda’s ground floor entrance. 

The escalator to Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

As is often the way on our adventures, Wonderboy took Leifeng Pagoda’s escalator, while I tackled the unforgiving stone steps head on. Needless to say I was quite out of breath by the time I got to the top!

Golden week crowds at Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

This shot looks back down at the escalator from Leifeng Pagoda’s second level. It reminds me of just how many people we were dealing with that day. And how high up you have to go just to get to the pagoda’s entrance! 

The Legend of the White Snake.

Wood carvings Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

It’s also possible to take an elevator up to Leifeng Pagoda’s 5th floor summit. Indeed there were hundreds of people queuing up to do just that, rather than negotiate the stairs. But in doing so they missed out on the wonderful art exhibition based around Hangzhou’s folk tale The Legend of the White Snake.

Legend of the White Snake Hangzhou China.

The Legend of the White Snake.

Told through a series of stunning woodcarvings, paintings and sculptures, we discovered the ancient love story of a local Hangzhou man Xu Xian and a hypnotic snake lady called Bai Suzhen.

Leifeng Pagoda, Hangzhou.

West Lake from Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

Views over West Lake from Leifeng Pagoda.

As cool as the interior was, the highlight of Leifeng Pagoda was of course coming out at the top on the fifth floor for sweeping views across West Lake and the Hangzhou skyline. Once again the smog did its best to dilute the experience, but it was still pretty impressive.

Selfie atop Leifeng Pagoda West Lake Hangzhou.

Leifeng Pagoda selfie!

The only difficulty was squeezing into a spot on the balcony to get unencumbered views and take our photos. Nevertheless, we managed to crowbar our way in and grab a rare Leighton-Wonderboy selfie. 

West lake views from Leifeng Pagoda Hangzhou.

Views over West Lake from Leifeng Pagoda.

Keep your eyes open for West Lake’s famous islands. The one pictured here is known as Three Pools Mirroring The Moon. Getting out to the islands during National Holiday week is a real challenge. In fact, we saw groups of Chinese tourists bickering over limited boats. Not at all put off by the steep 300RMB return price for the privilege.

Man in traditional Chinese costume West Lake Hangzhou.

If you’re in Hangzhou, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Leifeng Pagoda. Pre COVID-19, it was open daily from 08:00-20:00, with entrance tickets priced at 40RMB.

For more on my time in the city, check out my other articles on Hangzhou.

For more on the region, have a look at my travel reports from around Zhejiang Province.

Like these? Then why not leaf through my many other reports from across China.

I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • Pooja Thapliyal

    Lovely views!

    October 13, 2017 - 4:34 am Reply
    • leightonliterature

      Hey! Thanks a lot, West Lake is a must see I think and this pagoda, although insanely busy, offers the best panoramic of the city.

      October 13, 2017 - 4:52 am Reply
  • wunderlifestyle

    loving the photos!
    Please do check out our latest post

    October 13, 2017 - 5:19 am Reply
    • leightonliterature

      Hey! Thanks a lot for stopping by Leighton Literature and taking the time to comment. I will check out your site now, happy travels!

      October 13, 2017 - 11:38 am Reply
  • Memo

    I truly appreciate your being my eyes and ears. Thanks for including the link to the White Snake Legend.

    May 30, 2020 - 9:43 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Memo, I promise to be in touch soon by email. Has Tony considered Hangzhou? Plenty of ‘sleeping with the fishes’ space in West Lake.

      May 30, 2020 - 9:50 pm Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    Brings memories of Hangzhou and our visit to Leifeng Pagoda. Worth the climb, thank you!

    May 30, 2020 - 10:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I have great memories of that trip.

      May 30, 2020 - 10:03 pm Reply

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