Located just over two hours away by high-speed train from Shanghai, the exquisite city of Hangzhou is one of China’s most illustrious places. It is famous for its magnificent West Lake, which is surrounded on three sides by hilly peaks. Once a favourite imperial retreat, West Lake scenery looks drawn from a postcard. The place is like a giant traditional Chinese garden, and it’s here you’ll find the perfect snapshot of classical beauty on your China vacation.
Hangzhou was chosen by the New York Times as one of the best places to travel in 2016. Once a city known for romantics like painters and poets who were inspired by the beauty of West Lake and the Grand Canal, Hangzhou is now ready to open its doors to all types of travellers. With its surrounding hills, water, and numerous beautiful sightseeing places, Hangzhou has been ranked as one of the ten best sites in the country.
River Tide and Grand Canal
Hangzhou is a pearl in the scenic Yangtze River Delta. A natural spectacle to be found in the city is the Qiantang River Tide. Annually, millions of people flock here to watch the magnificent tide on the eighteenth day of the eighth lunar month (also around the mid-Autumn day). When the surging tide comes in, the water can rise up to a height of 30 feet and the noise it generates sounds like thunder, or thousands of galloping horses.
Don’t miss the Grand Canal which links the city in the south with Beijing in the north. Boating on the old Canal is one of the best ways to get a panoramic view of the landscape of river towns, which include ancient dwellings, stone bridges of traditional designs, and historical relics.
For those who have a love of sculpture and art and are interested in Buddhism, a visit to the Peak Flown From Afar, a 209m/700 ft limestone mountain featuring caves and artwork, and the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat (Lingyin Temple) is a must. On a Hangzhou tour, be sure to discover Hangzhou Botanical Garden, Running Tiger Spring, Mt. Putuoshan, and Thousand Islets Lake (Qian Dao Lake), a pure lake with fresh and clean air. You can also see Xixi Wetlands Park.
Sensational Silk and Tea
Hangzhou is famous for its silk and Longjing (Dragon Well) tea. Stop and enjoy the best tea in China at one of the tea houses on Qinhefang Street, one of the best-preserved century-old avenues lined with shops and restaurants. Wander the National Tea Museum to get a fascinating insight into the history and production of tea, and visit Hangzou’s famous tea plantation.
Hangzhou is renowned worldwide for producing excellent silks and satins. Throughout its long history, these materials have been sold throughout the world. The best place for purchasing silk is at Hangzhou Silk City, the biggest silk wholesale and retail market in the country. Visit the China National Silk Museum, dedicated to China’s antique silk culture.
How To Visit Hangzhou
Most people with limited time for travel to China may only consider Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai, but Hangzhou is an essential add-on destination. The city is perfect to explore either on foot or by bike.
As of January 2016, Hangzhou became one of the few cities in China that allow 6-day visa-free stays. This new service is perfect for North Americans who want to visit China as part of their Asia tour, but don’t want to worry about getting a visa in advance.
Goway’s most popular selling itinerary for more than two decades, the 14-Day China Odyssey, has been enhanced this year to offer travellers to China a Hangzhou extension, as an alternative to a Yangtze River cruise. It’s the 14-Day China Odyssey with Hangzhou Extension.