Located in the northwest part of town, Yangzhou's premier attraction got its name during the Qing dynasty, when Hangzhou poet Wang Kang, on passing through the area, noted that it resembled a slender version of Hangzhou's West Lake (Xi Hu). The most popular photo spot is the impressive Wu Ting Qiao (Five Pavilion Bridge), built in 1757 by a salt merchant who, in anticipation of the Qianlong emperor's arrival, modeled the bridge after one in the imperial resort (Bishu Shanzhuang) in Chengde, Hebei. Many Qing dynasty salt merchants competed with each other to build gardens in order to impress the emperor.

Bai Ta (White Dagoba), a white Tibetan-style stupa, was built by another ingratiating salt merchant more than 200 years ago. The story goes that during one of his six visits to the lake, the Qianlong emperor remarked on the area's resemblance to Bei Hai Park in Beijing and inquired if there was a similar dagoba here. Eager to please, the salt merchant said yes, then spent the whole night panicking when the emperor insisted on seeing the dagoba. Finally, the merchant hit upon the idea to have a dagoba made out of salt, a tactic that apparently worked the next day when Qianlong saw the white structure from afar. Thereafter, the merchant commissioned a real dagoba to be built. The Diaoyu Tai (Angler's Terrace) on Xiao Jin Shan (Small Golden Hill) is where Qianlong came to fish, although he was such a terrible angler that the merchants took to putting fish on his hooks in order to avoid imperial wrath.