But the West Lake or Xihu is much larger. You need at least 5 to6 days to complete the entire tour around West Lake. From what I heard from the tour guide, the lake at the Summer palace is man made. That's the difference between it and the West Lake in Hangzhou. However, if you don't have the time to visit West lake, the Summer Palace would be as an exciting place to visit and for taking pictures. And you can take a day to complete the tour if you have the time. As for us, we took about 2 hours as we are running out of time.
To shorten our time, we took the Dragon boat to reach the other end of the lake. That cost us 5 yuan per person which is not in our tour package.
According to Wikipedia:
The Summer Palace or Yihe yuan (traditional Chinese: 頤和園; simplified Chinese: 颐和园; pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; literally "Gardens of Nurtured Harmony") is a palace in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometers was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In its compact 70,000 square meters of building space, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.
The Summer Palace started out life as the Garden of Clear Ripples (traditional Chinese: 清漪園; simplified Chinese: 清漪园; pinyin: Qīngyī Yuán) in 1750 (Reign Year 15 of Emperor Qianlong). Artisans reproduced the garden architecture styles of various palaces in China. Kunming Lake was created by extending an existing body of water to imitate the West Lake in Hangzhou. The palace complex suffered two major attacks--during the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 (with the Old Summer Palace also ransacked at the same time), and during the Boxer Rebellion, in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902. In 1888, it was given the current name, Yihe Yuan. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, said to be originally designated for the Chinese navy (Beiyang Fleet), into the reconstruction and enlargement of the Summer Palace.
In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value." It is a popular tourist destination but also serves as a recreational park. To read more, please click 'here'.Many buildings in China including the ancient and the new one has statue as the guardian. They believe that the statue has some kind of power that bring good luck and protection from some form of evil things. And the statue comes in different size and form such as Crane, Lion, Dragon and etc. Mostly are made of Bronze, jade and stone.
Photo: The ever lasting boat made of marble, that will never sink.