Hangzhou is a large Chinese city near Shanghai. While this might not sound interesting at first glance, Hangzhou is actually one of China’s most beautiful cities and welcomes visitors from all across China. People flock here to see its beautiful lake and legendary tea fields. While the city may, at times, be crowded with domestic tourists, it still remains firmly off the maps of most foreign tourists. This city guide has information about all of the sights that interesting to potential visitors. So come to Hangzhou and see what Chinese poets and writers have known about for centuries.
Why It’s Cool
Hangzhou is the popular tourist destination that is because of West Lake. It’s a very beautiful lake that has been a hotspot for Chinese artists and poets looking for inspiration for centuries. While there are more tour groups than poets these days, there is still plenty of inspiration left to find.
The Serenity of West Lake
West Lake is by far the most interesting and biggest attraction in Hangzhou. But don’t think people come just to stand around and look at the lake, because West Lake is much more interesting than that. Sprinkled around the lake there are many different restaurants, cafes, parks, temples, gardens and scenic spots. The path around the lake is 15 km long and it is best covered over a period of several days. Alternatively there are a few causeways intersecting the lake that can cut the trip down to about half the length.
The Ten Scenes of West Lake
There are ten famous views of West Lake which have been memorialized by Chinese artists for centuries. A popular activity at West Lake is to walk around the lake and take in the unique charm and beauty of each of the ten viewpoints. Don’t worry too much though if you can’t find them all, because the views are pretty great no matter where you are on the lake.
Get Your Prayer On
Like most Chinese cities, Hangzhou also has its fair share of temples and pagodas. The most prominent of these is the Six Harmonies Pagoda which, while located a little ways from West Lake, has its own beautiful setting on a hilltop overlooking the Qiantang River. Another interesting temple is Lingyin, an active Buddhist Monastery located in the hills to the west of the lake. Also popular is the Baochu Pagoda, which is located on a hill on the north-side of the lake. The pagoda itself isn’t the most spectacular, but the views of the lake and of the city are well worth the climb.
Sippin’ On Fragrant Tea
Hangzhou is world famous for its Longjing Tea and just outside of town you can see the beautiful fields, rolling hills and small villages where it all happens. The tea growing areas stretch along Longjiang Road, starting near Westlake and continuing to the east. Visiting the villages is an interesting experience, especially when the village women come out of their houses to invite you to try the tea from their fields. Some of the other attractions on Longjing Road include the National Tea Museum, the Dragon’s Well Teahouse and the Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies hiking trail. Bus number 3 runs along the entirety of the road, departing from the northeast side of West Lake, and is the best option for exploring the area. Taxis will also take you down the road, but the bus is cheaper and more convenient for stopping at each of the sights. The best time to visit is during the harvest season, March-May, when the tea is exceptionally fragrant.