Leifeng Pagoda: The Watcher of West Lake, Hangzhou

Written by ivana Updated Nov. 1, 2023

In traditional Chinese culture, historic landmarks are often rich with the depth of history and mythical tales. Leifeng Pagoda in Hangzhou is one of the most emblematic of these sites. Given life by the legends associated with it, this ancient tower adds a unique charm to the cityscape of Hangzhou.

Situated on Nanshan Road, at the south end of the West Lake scenic area, Leifeng Pagoda is an octagonal seven-story structure made of brick and wood, standing approximately 71.7 meters tall. Each level offers a viewing deck from which visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the enchanting West Lake. The pagoda is well-equipped with modern amenities, including an elevator, exhibit halls, and broadband internet, making it one of the primary tourist attractions in Hangzhou.

Leifeng Pagoda Facts

The History of Leifeng Pagoda

Historical records state that the earliest construction of Leifeng Pagoda took place during the Zhiping period of the Northern Song Dynasty (1067-1085 AD), initially as a wooden structure. The name "Leifeng" originates from the Leifeng Shrine mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. After enduring centuries of tumultuous events, the pagoda collapsed in 1924. However, to restore the historical landscape of West Lake, it was reconstructed and reinstated in 2002.

The Legend of Leifeng Pagoda

A long time ago, the pagoda was called Huangfei Pagoda and known as the Brick Pagoda of West Gate owing to it being situated outside the west gate of the city. As years pass by, all those names have been abandoned only Leifeng Pagoda is still in use today. Leifeng Pagoda is surrounded by West Lake and it is famous for a fairy tale.

Long before, there was a white snake called Bai SuZhen who descended to the world to marry a human called Xu Xian. The couple loved each other deeply and lived a very happy life. However, a monk called Fa Hai accused Bai Suzhen of breaking ethics and trying to make her die. In order to set the couple apart and give them no chance to meet, Fa Hai forced Bai SuZhen to stay in the Leifeng Tower.

Construction of the Pagoda

The body of the pagoda was made of brick, but the eaves, balconies, inside landings, and balustrades were made of wood. Stones with the Huayan Scriptures inscribed on them were inlaid on the inner walls of the pagoda. There used to be sixteen sculptures of vajra arhats at the foot of the pagoda, but they were later moved to Jingci Temple.

Walk through a heavy old door, visitors arrive at the bottom of the new Leifeng Pagoda which is the ancient site of Leifeng Pagoda. The ancient site is covered by glass in order to protect against oxidation and man-made sabotage but visitors still can see it from outside. Today, the brick of the old Leifeng pagoda is still carefully wrapped up.

Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset

Recognized as one of the 'Ten Scenes of West Lake,' "Leifeng in the Sunset" indeed forms the soul of Hangzhou's natural landscape. Each evening, as the sun approaches the horizon, its golden glow bathes Leifeng Pagoda, offering in itself a mesmerizing view that would touch the depths of your soul.

As the sun sets on the southwest horizon, its golden afterglow sprinkles across the calm West Lake. If you stand on the opposite shore of the lake, you will witness a beautiful scene worthy of a poetic verse - the silhouette of Leifeng Pagoda crowned by the rosy hues of the setting sun.

Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset

The spectacle unveils a unique twilight scene where half the sky is adorned by a glorious sunset, and the other half displays the charm of the elegant ancient pagoda. The blend of the sun's golden aura and the calm white of the historic tower gives birth to a harmonious and picturesque scene. The gentle glow of the setting sun, mirrored on Leifeng Pagoda, presents an intriguing image, resembling a watercolor painting that stirs up endless imagination within you.

Infused with Zen undertones, the scene of "Leifeng in the Sunset" sketches a snapshot of Hangzhou city that feels both quaint and romantic. Time has left its traces here and legends have kept this place vibrantly alive. This convergence culminates in the scene of a "Leifeng Sunset", letting its spectators seemingly hear the gentle flow of time, touching the warmth created by the intertwining of history and the present moment.

How to Get to the Leifeng Pagoda

Departing from Hangzhou city center, you can take Hangzhou Bus No.4,  No.31, No.139, No.582, No.1314, West Lake Inner Ring Line, West Lake Outer Ring Line, or the Dahongdou Digital Travel Line to Jing Temple (Leifeng Pagoda) station, then walk to the Leifeng Pagoda Scenic Area.

For those who are driving or renting a vehicle, you can park your vehicle at the parking lot near Nanshan Road, and then proceed by walking.

Bus Routes Start Stations End Stations First / Last Bus Time Station
Hangzhou Bus No.4 Longxiang Bridge Bus Station 龙翔桥公交站 Jiuxi 九溪 Start:06:00-21:00 Jing Temple (Leifeng Tower)
End: 06:00-21:45
Hangzhou Bus No.31 Zoo 动物园 East Train Station West 火车东站西 06:30-19:45
Hangzhou Bus No.139 Wujiang Road Yingu Road Junction 婺江路银鼓路口 Zha Kou (Subway Shuicheng Bridge Station) 闸口(地铁水澄桥站) Start:06:50-19:00
End: 07:30-19:00
Hangzhou Bus No.582 Liugong Park 六公园 Liugong Park 六公园 09:00-14:00 
Hangzhou Bus No.1314 Yigong Park 一公园 Song Dynasty City Scenic Area 宋城景区 Start:08:30-18:00
End: 09:40-19:30
West Lake Inner Ring Line Yigong Park 一公园 Yigong Park 一公园 09:00-18:30
West Lake Outer Ring Line Baidi 白堤 Baidi 白堤 09:00-18:30
Dahongdou Digital Travel Line Wulin Square West 武林广场西 Zoo 动物园 Start:09:00-16:00
End: 10:00-17:00

Nearby Attractions

With the Leifeng Pagoda's mystical charm experienced and the "Leifeng in the Sunset" captured in your memory, let's broaden the horizon and introduce some surrounding attractions that enrich your Hangzhou journey.

Visiting Leifeng Pagoda with China Travel

If you are planning a tour of Leifeng Pagoda, it's suggested you combine it with other famous sights in nearby areas or contact us to customize your Leifeng Pagoda tour.

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