Article by Amber Woo - Sat, Sep 12, 2015 12:21PM GMT from CityWeekend Suzhou
Though Qiandao Lake is man-made, it's also an outstanding spot of natural beauty. The lake is in Zhejiang Province, just a four or five hour drive from Suzhou.
If you've always wanted an island to yourself, Qiandao Lake is the destination for you. There are over 1,000 large islands in the lake and a few thousand smaller ones. No wonder, then, that the Chinese name, "Qiandao Hu" translates as one thousand island lake.
The picturesque landscape around Qiandao Lake is well-known for its clear water and lush forests. Unfortunately, you won't be the only tourist looking to get back to nature in this postcard-perfect setting.
Our advice is to get out of the central town of Chun'an and trek in the forests, or visit some of the smaller islands on the lake. There are countless places where you can find tranquility, nature and peace.
We wanted to avoid the hustle of driving all the way there and finding local guest houses, so we chose a more social, and convenient, option. OK, Deal! Club are an international weekend getaway trip organizer based in Shanghai. Our group of 30 people came from many different countries, but all shared the same love for travel and nature.
During the three-day trip, we biked around some parts of the lake and hiked a local mountain. The trek was a little crowded for our tastes as you could still see other tourists along the way. However, the highlights of the trip were the amazing local food, kayaking and swimming in the quiet lake and the social bonfire party at night.
Kayaking is an adventurous way to explore Qiandao Lake's unique landscape. Our bus drove us to a local kayaking club, and after an instructional session from the coach, we were paired into groups of two and got into the boats.
Once we started kayaking, we discovered countless little islands around the lake. We felt completely free of other people and fully immersed in the stunning scenery; my kayaking partner said it made him feel like he was in Vietnam or Lao. We parked our kayaking boat by one of the small islands, and took a short swimming break while the rest of the team kept going.
Ok, Deal! Club provides all meals including a western breakfast and local dishes for lunch and dinner. This gives travelers the opportunity to discover local family-style dishes. Specialties of our trip included crispy corncake that everyone loved, bamboo shoots, fresh fish from the lake and lots of fresh vegetables. One guy from the US said the best fish soup was the best he has tried in his life.
Social Bonfire Party
We stayed two nights at a guest house in a peaceful village surrounded by forests.
When there was nothing to do after lights out, we gathered in the courtard with snacks and drinks. Some of us talked and socialized while others gazed at stars that can rarely be seen in the city.
It was refreshing to get away from the highrises and noise of urban life and enjoy nature and tranquility. Most importantly, we make friends each time we go on a trip with OK, Deal! Club.