Slender West Lake and Historic Urban Area in Yangzhou
Slender West Lake and Historic Urban Area in Yangzhou is part of the Tentative list of China in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List. This site (or parts of it) has already been inscribed under Grand Canal WHS.
Slender West Lake in Yangzhou is a typical demonstration of Chinese traditional public tourism destination, representing the taste and life style in Chinese traditional society. He Garden and Ge Garden are the representative works and outstanding example of Chinese art of garden design. Historic Urban Area in Yangzhou shows the principles and thoughts of Chinese city plan and construction, as well as the special way of development of Chinese old commercial cities.
Map of Slender West Lake and Historic Urban Area in YangzhouLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Yangzhou used to be very difficult to get to, and I'm not talking about ancient times but pre-2000 even. There are now a half dozen bridges and a high-speed train access to make it super easy of course, but back in the days it was basically a secret place to visit.
2 of the 3 components are already inscribed as part of the Grand Canal WHS. I used to think the Ge Yuan is also inscribed but it just falls outside of the core zone after all so there is technically another world heritage site here, although the criteria for inscribing these again would be different to the Grand Canal anyway. My thumbs down start with it being already inscribed and the very crappy criteria such as being a traditional "tourism destination". Don't get me wrong - Yangzhou is overall a great place to visit!
Slender West Lake is probably a must-see anyway but shelling out for gardens is maybe not so great. A mix between Beijing's Beihai, Suzhou's Gardens and Ancient Administrator houses, maybe a bit of Hangzhou's West Lake due to the bridges, there isn't much new if here if you have visited those before. For anyone else this is a great place to see something fresh and the mix of these isn't bad in any way.
The biggest attraction is obviously Slender Lake because it's so large. If you want to see all it can take several hours but you can easily skip the northern part - and I also don't recommend the boat trip because you can't take good pictures, the better picture spots are on the side of the lake anyway, and it costs quite a bit for only transporting you so far. I entered the park from the north, walked to the center (officially west entrance), took a boat to the south to find it sucks and then walked back to the west gate to exit. There are several spots on the way to visit such as the great white pagoda. It is easy to see why the lake is so popular but I wouldn't hand it its own inscription. I think it's great to be a part of the Grand Canal.
Ge Yuan in the center of town is surrounded by what seems to be a fake old town street so it can charge double for all snacks and lousy souvenirs. I recommend you eat before you arrive here unless you are planning to check out these shops on purpose. Overall you can spend an hour in the garden. It can get crowded but there are many photo opportunities. Unfortunately it looks and feels exactly like a Suzhou garden and I strongly advice against its own inscription.
He Yuan is a much smaller garden and more focused on the building aspect. It does feature rock gardens and some water features but it is really tiny compared to the other attractions. Whilst not uninteresting I didn't find the entrance fee justify what you get to experience. Most of the rooms only have pictures to make it one super boring museum - everything in Chinese of course. It also has a very confusing "one-way path system" that makes sense at the start due to the narrow corridors but once you reach the courtyard with the rooms they point you all over the place and you just want to figure out what you want to see and where you have already been by yourself.
Good visit but since it is already WHS for the canal sections I cannot see it as another site because the Suzhou Gardens are too similar and Beihai is also trying to inscribe already.
They are fantastic sites both Slender West Lake and old town of Yangzhou. The food and tea of Yangzhou are all excellent. The only problem is that it's always crowded in such "slender" park and town, where is hard to taste the sophisticated beauty by heart.
2008 Added to Tentative List
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