Dongqian Lake is an increasingly popular destination for residents of Ningbo (it’s around a 45- minute drive out of the city centre), but the gaotie links to the city from Shanghai mean that it’s also a convenient weekend break from here. Although tourist developments are expanding to serve this trade, the lake remains largely untroubled by the sort of crowds who swarm around, say, Hangzhou’s West Lake and the out of town location gives it a far more relaxing air.
Dongqian actually consists of three lakes, with the North Lake the pick of these. Small villages, temples and even a Song dynasty sculpture park are nestled between mountains and the lake’s shores. A quiet road runs the circumference, making it ideal for a run or bike ride.
There are a number of hotels in the area, but the stunning Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa (188 Dayan Lu, Dongqian Lake Scenic Area; 0574 2888 1234, ningbo.park.hyatt.com
) is easily the best of the bunch and a reason to visit Dongqian in and of itself. Formerly a fishing village, the site has been converted into a resort with a clutch of private villas and regular rooms overlooking its own private section of lake. The majority of the development is modern and rooms are furnished with the comfort you’d expect from such a high-end hotel, but there are a couple of beautifully renovated historical buildings as well, including a former temple now housing the hotel bar, and the resort is a superb spot to unwind for a weekend.
Regular gaotie trains run from Hongqiao Railway Station to Ningbo taking around two hours and starting from 144RMB. A taxi from Ningbo Railway Station to the Park Hyatt Ningbo takes around 45 minutes and costs around 70RMB. Bikes for rental (free for the first hour, 30RMB/hour after) and maps of the area are available from the hotel. Room rates start from 1,200RMB/night.