Santanyinyue (三潭印月), or Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, is the largest island on the Outer West Lake in Hangzhou. Its name comes from the three deep pools ( the three deep areas in the lake ) south of the island where three magic stone pagodas stand. The stone pagodas were originally built in 1089 Song Dynasty ( 960 – 1279 ). They stand on the three deep-water pools respectively in a triangle.
The three stone pagodas south of the island known as Three Pools Mirroring the Moon are the landmark of West Lake and the symbol of Hangzhou. The three stone pagodas are printed on the back of the one yuan paper banknote of 1 RMB.
As the name of the island “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon” suggests, in Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival ( Moon Cake Day ), candles are lit inside the round holes of each pagoda (south of the island), creating the mixed splendor of candle light, moonlight and lake light on the three-pool area in the lake, hence the name of Three Pools Mirroring the Moon.
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon is taken mostly as just a symbol since unfortunately most travelers can’t be so lucky to see the charming and romantic scene like this. But getting on to the island for a stroll is very easy and many first-time visitors will make a pilgrimage boat trip to the island during their Hangzhou tour.
There are several docks around West Lake where you just pay 55 yuan for a return boat trip to the island known as “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”. If you walk along Su Causeway, you may buy your boat ticket at the dock opposite the entrance to Fish Viewing at Flower Park between the first bridge and second bridge along Su Causeway. But you don’t have to return to the dock where you come. Instead you you are able to take a boat to other docks like Hubin Park ( Lakeside Park ) on the east shore of West Lake west of the downtown Hangzhou or Zhongshan Park on the largest island known as Gushan Island on the north of West Lake.
Follow me to have a glimpse of the island known as “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”. Actually Three Pools Mirroring the Moon is like a lake within West Lake. The whole island resembles a traditional Chinese water and mountain painting – zigzag bridges, lily ponds, curved-eave pavilions and densely forested trees, a perfect place for a leisure afternoon stroll. Avoid coming here on China public holiday due to the hordes of domestic tourists.
The dock at Huagang 花港码头 ( Dock by Fish Viewing at Flower Park）
Pay 55 yuan and get on a wooden boat for a return trip to the island known as “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”. Every 15 minutes a shuttle boat will leave the dock for the island, full and go with free seating.
From your boat, you can have a distant view of Su Causeway like a green belt lying on West Lake from the south to the north dotted with six moon bridges.
It is not a bad idea to rent a rowing boat for a romantic cruise. You see the young couple comfortably sitting in a rowing boat with the background of three stone pagodas on the south of the island, Leifeng Pagoda atop the southern hill of West Lake and City God Pavilion on the summit of Wushan Hill protruding into Hangzhou city center.
Now we are board the island – a lake within West Lake – pavilions, bridges, ponds, flowers and trees.
The charming reflections on the water.
The large dock area on the northern shore of the island, a nice place for a broad view of West Lake.
Look into the distant northeast shoreline of West Lake.
Snap a picture of the beautiful island.
A pleasant and comfortable boat cruise on West Lake.
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Tip: Hassle-free Hangzhou Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Hangzhou Guided Tours:
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