Hangzhou is the capital, and most popular city, of Zhejiang Province in east China, separating Shanghai and Ningbo. The city’s train station is one of the biggest rail traffic hubs in China, with connections to Shanghai, Nanjing, Changsha, Ningbo, and beyond. Hangzhou has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities in China for the last millennium. It is renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty, ranking as one of the most scenic in China. Although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, it still retains its historical and cultural heritage.
Things to do
Visit West Lake – One of Hangzhou’s most popular sights is West Lake, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adjacent to the lake is a scenic area which includes historical pagodas, cultural sites, as well as the natural beauty of the lake and hills, including Phoenix Mountain. West Lake was selected as one of the “12 superb sunset spots around the world” by CNN, so it certainly shouldn’t be missed out on. In addition, walking around West Lake is free, so amble around at leisure to appreciate the beautiful scenery.
Lingyin Temple – The Lingyin (Souls Retreat) Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in China. It was constructed in 326AD at the foot of Lingyin Mountain, so it can boast of a history of more than 1,600 years. The temple has the Front Hall, the Hall and the Hall of Herb Masters. China’s largest wood-carving of sitting Buddha Sakyamuni sits in the Magnificent Hall, and the main hall is a staggering 33.6 meters in height.
Hangzhou Longjing Tea Plantation – Hangzhou is home to the renowned Dragon Well (Longjing) tea. Longjing Tea is one of China’s best teas and is one reason for Hangzhou’s international fame, explaining why tea culture is such an important part of Hangzhou. The tea village itself is is a Dragon well tea plantation nestled in the hills surrounding the West Lake. It is one of the most important bases for tea production in China, where you can visit the tea plantations, pick tea-leaves, and learn the art of tea-making.
Walk across the Grand Canal – Aptly named, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is one of the greatest ancient projects in China and is the longest man-made canal in world. It covers a total length of 1,794 kilometers, and meets five rivers of the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe, Haihe, and Qiantang rivers, and its cultural importance was recognised in 2014, with the Grand Canal listed as World Heritage.
Hangzhou, as the capital city of Zhejiang Province, is one of the top choices for people who would like to enjoy a side trip after touring Shanghai. As such, there are many ways to travel around the city. There are three railway stations, with high speed lines from/to Shanghai, Nanjing, Ningbo, and Changsha transporting the most passengers. There are also five long-distance bus stations in operation, serving passengers who travel in and out of Zhejiang. On top of this, as a city endowed with many lakes and rivers, it supplies several cruise, ferry and water bus travels. At present, the West Lake Cruise and the Grand Canal Cruise enjoy the highest popularity. Of course, the subway, regular city buses, and taxis are also at your disposal, and the Xiaoshan International Airport is not too far for a quick get away. Around 17 miles (27km) from the downtown, the Xiaoshan Airport mainly serves Hangzhou and nearby cities like Huzhou, Shaoxing, Jiaxing, and Zhuji.
As one of China’s most dynamic cities, Hangzhou is a shopping paradise for tourists from around the world. It is well known for producing excellent silks, including satins. However, shopping in Hangzhou nowadays is no longer limited to local specialties such as silk, tea, and lotus root starch, many modern offerings are abundant in various shops, stores, supermarkets, and plazas that crowd the commercial centre. Hangzhou is also host to several walking only streets including Hefang Street (also named Qinghefang Street) and Zhongshan Road (also named “the Royal Street of the Southern Song Dynasty”), where you will be attracted by the antique buildings and local crafts, such as silk parasols, brocades, renowned Zhang Xiaoquan scissors and Hangzhou fans.
As a metropolis blended with both ancient and modern elements, Hangzhou has a vigorous and fascinating nightlife. The West Lake Night Performances are excellent shows to watch if your interested in experiencing the distinct culture of the region, and just like each major city has its own unique streets of pub, Hangzhou as a world famous leisure city, does not lag behind in this regard. Among the numerous bar and pub streets in Hangzhou, Nanshan Lu (or Nanshan Road) Bar Street is one of the best in terms of location, architecture, quality and taste.