Located in China’s Zhejiang Province, the Thousand Island Lake is a huge water reservoir and China’s largest forest park. However, beneath this popular tourist attraction and relaxing getaway, you’ll find two of China’s ancient cities: Shi Cheng and He Cheng. Having been turned into a dam in the last century, these cities were submerged and hidden from the world. Until, that is, recently. Find out more about the Thousand Island Lake, and what else there is to uncover, below.
Interesting Facts About the Thousand Island Lake
-There are 1,078 islands located on the lake. Many of which it is possible to visit.
-The cities located under the water have been there for over 1800 years (since 208 AD) and were at one point some of the most significant cities on China’s cultural scene.
-Whilst it is possible to dive to the ruins below the water, it is not officially supported by the local government. -You will need to be an experienced diver.
-The Thousand Island Lake is the largest forest park located in China.
-The Chinese name ‘Qiandao hu’ literally translates to “Thousand Island Lake”; hence the name.
The History of the Thousand Island Lake
In 1959, the Xin’an hydroelectric dam was completed. However, in order for the dam to work properly, the Xin’anjiang Reservoir was required. This meant flooding the valley with water, an action which led to the forming of the Thousand Island Lake today. The site is now home to one of China’s largest man-made water reservoirs, covering over 580 square kilometers in the Chinese province of Zhejiang. What makes it so special though, is that hidden underneath its watery depths lies two ancient Chinese cities.
Dating back as far as 208 AD, the cities of Shi Cheng and He Cheng stood in the valley. They were proud cities, known for their importance when it came to politics, economics, and culture in the Tang Dynasty. Those cities lasted for over 1000 years. In 1959, they were drowned, along with over 1,300 villages, 50,000 acres of land, and 2 ancient towns. The project saw 290,000 people being relocated to live in different areas.
Today, the area has been turned into China’s largest forest park and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Its beauty, both above and below the water, is some of the best in this area of China.
The Culture of the Thousand Island Lake
Qiandao Hu Town: Located just next to the River, Qiandaohu has become a tourist hotspot in the local area. There are several great restaurants to eat from, along with many upscale hotels. There is also a light show which takes place on the lake at night, and which can be seen from the city.
Thousand Island Lake Wharf: One of the easiest locations for taking a cruise from. Boats depart all day and can take you to another wharf, or back to the beginning. The Thousand Island Lake Wharf is also a tourist hub in its own right, with several stalls usually selling local delicacies and food until the send begins to set.
Meifengguan Island: Located over 12 km from Qiandao hu town, the Meifengguan is the tallest island on the lake. It’s a great place for during the day and offers some incredible sights of the Thousand Island Lake area.
Monkey Island: Known as such due to the prevalence of monkeys on the island. There are actually several different islands named after different animals. Each of them is named after a different animal which lives on them. There is also Bird Island and Snake Island.
Santan Island: You’ll find this island in the exact center of the Thousand Island Lake area. The island is home to several activities and stores; including places for you to take part in traditional Chinese tea ceremonies, and to watch shows and Chinese opera.
You will also find several centers offering other activities for you to take part in. From motorboating to mountain climbing, island hopping, and more. If you arrive in Thousand Island Lake unsure what to do, make sure this is one of the first places you visit.
Lock Island: Home to several different locks and the lock museum. Yes, that’s locks as in the ones you use to keep things shut. It’s actually a very interesting experience and worth the trip. You can even visit the locks of happiness, wisdom, and health, in order to seek blessings for these different things in your life.
Jiulong Brook Rafting: If you’re looking for something a little faster, then the Jiulong Brook Rafting is a good choice. This isn’t extreme white-water rafting at all, although you will have a few bumps and falls as you go. Instead, expect a relatively pleasant and enjoyable ride.
Watch Opera on the Water: Take one of the larger cruise ships across the water and you’ll be able to witness Chinese opera whilst gliding through the picturesque lake. These large ‘traditional’ looking boats will take you for a brief tour around some of the island next to Qiandao Hu town, and then back. The shows usually last around half an hour, with more than just opera being shown. There’s also some good Chinese comedy.
Tips for Visiting the Thousand Island Lake
-Getting to the destination is usually done by bus from another Chinese City. All major cities in Zhejiang have links to Qiandaohu.
-The weather is usually pretty hospitable all year round. However, if you’re looking for the most moderate temperatures, then aiming for between March and June will is best.
-Due to the large body of water, the local weather system can be unpredictable. Make sure to pack an umbrella and sudden downpours are not uncommon.
-Make sure to try the local delicacy of Qiandao hu fish whilst you’re here. It’s said that the quality of the local water makes it perfect for consumption.
-Also, do not forget to try the local Qiandao Longjing Tea. Whilst several areas in Zhejiang and famous for their tea, the abundance of water and different farming techniques here make Qiandao’s tea taste just a little different.