Top Things to Do in Hangzhou

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Blessed with the beautiful West Lake, Hangzhou is a renowned city for over 1000 years in China. A major city of the Yangtze River Delta near Hangzhou Bay and Shanghai City, Hangzhou is very prosperous. No wonder the old saying goes; there is Paradise above and Suzhou and Hangzhou below. It has been recommended as one of the best destinations in China in 2013 on Tripadvisor.com. This article is to give you a quick idea about top things to do in Hangzhou, aiming to maximize your time when traveling to Hangzhou. ©

What to See in Hangzhou

West Lake

West Lake

Without visiting West Lake (西湖), you cannot say you have been to Hangzhou. It is the most famous sight in Hangzhou since 1000 years ago. West Lake is very large with several causeways and verdant islets. It shows its charming in the spring when willow sitting along the bank wave in the breeze. Actually West Lake scenic area is much larger which refers to many spots around West Lake, such as Hubin Park, Bai Causeway and Solitary Hill.

Often there are most ten renowned spots since the South Song Dynasty (1127-1279). They are Su Causeway, Qu Yuan Feng He, Ping Hu Qiu Yue, Broken Bridge with Thawing Snow, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Leifeng Tower at the Sunset, Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds, Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill and Orioles Singing in the Willows.

However, most of them are seasonal. You can’t see all of them in one time. What we recommend is to walk along the path in a clear day, take a boat ride on the West Lake leisurely and take a ferry to get to one of the island to visit. Boats and ferries are easy to take and tickets are available around the lake. In this way you may probably see most sights in your way.

  • Add: West Lake Scenic Area, West Lake District, Hangzhou City
  • Admission: Free
  • Opening Hours: A whole day
  • Getting there:
    Bus NOs K7/K55/K194/60/15 reach there

Tour Idea:

Linyin Temple

Linyin Temple

Located at the northwest of West Lake, Linyin Temple (灵隐寺) belongs to West Lake Scenic Area. It is also called Yunlin Temple, which is one of the Three Most Famous Temples and the oldest temple in Hangzhou with a history of over 1,700 years. (It was built in 326 when an Indian monk called Hui Li brought Buddhism to Hangzhou.)

Literally the temple name refers to heart of soul’s retreat, which shows that its surroundings are tranquil. However, you could see many worshipers there every day because they believe the Buddha do help their wishes come true. In front of the temple is Flying Peak (飞来峰),which is a very famous Buddhist grotto site. It is believed that the peak flied from India overnight demonstrating the Buddhist Law. There are numerous Buddhist images on the peak with different shapes.

As the temple sits at the foot of a hill, chairlifts are available for visitors to the top of the hill. For most visitors, they love to climb the hill themselves to enjoy the west lake view instead of taking the chairlift. Take note that one must buy the ticket for Flying Peak before entering the temple. It charges free for entering Flying Peak before 6:00 in the morning. 2 hours is enough for a comfortable visit.

  • Add:  No.1, Fayun Lane, West Lake District, Hangzhou
  • Admission: 30 Yuan/person for Flying Peak, 45 Yuan/person for Lingyin Tempe, 40 Yuan/person for a round-way chairlift.
  • Opening Hours: 07:00-18:15
  • Getting there:
    Take bus Nos. K837/y4 and get off at Santianzhu Station (三天竺站); Take Bus Nos.7/807/k807/y2 and get off at Lingyin Station (灵隐站).

Tour Idea:

Liuhe Pagoda

Liuhe Pagoda

Sit on the Yuelun Hill overlooking Qiantang River, Liuhe Pagoda (六合塔) was built for suppressing Qiantang tide during the North Song Dynasty(960-1127). It is also called as Six Harmonious Pagoda. You could get a lovely view of the river by ascending to the top of the pagoda.

Now there is a new park set up near the pagoda with hundreds of replicas of the most renowned pagodas in China, reflecting cultures of different ancient dynasties and districts. There are also small trees before those pagoda models. The park aims at presenting the essence of Chinese pagoda culture, but arguments exists.

  • Add: 16 Zhijiang Road, West Lake District
  • Admission: 20 Yuan/person, an extra fee of 10 Yuan/person is needed for ascending to the top.
  • Opening Hours: 06:30-17:30
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus NOs 2/K4/308/K504/Y5 and get off at Liuhe Pagoda Station(六合塔站).

Tour Idea:

Former residence of Xueyan Hu

Former residence of Xueyan Hu

Built in 1872, the Former residence of Xueyan Hu (胡雪岩故居) was for Xueyan Hu, the richest Chinese man in his time. It covers an area of 5800 sq meters with an understated doorway but intricate and delicate internal design.

The lovely garden, the internal design, furniture and related materials are said to be the top 1 residence among all rich merchants in the Late Qing Dynasty. There are also many valuable collections in the antique houses, such as some famous stone-carved works of calligraphy by Bohu Tang and Banqiao Zheng. Two rare official palanquins made of red sandalwood are especially worth visiting.

Xueyan Hu was an incredibly wealthy man who had 13 wives and 19 kids. He even set up a Chinese pharmacy for the poor. While walking through the buildings and the garden, one could imagine the daily life of residents once living there.

  • Add: No.18 Yuanbao Street, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou
  • Admission: 20 Yuan/person
  • Opening Hours: 08:00-17:30
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus NO 8/13/308/Y6 and get off at Gulou Station (鼓楼站).

Tour Idea:

Prince Bay Park

Prince Bay Park

Located southwest of West Lake, Prince Bay Park (太子湾公园) is very near Nanshan Road and Colored Port View Fish Garden. Story goes that the park was once the place for resting coffins temporary of 2 princes, thus comes the name Prince Bay Park. It is the earliest wedding theme park in Hangzhou and also the biggest one.

The park is planted numerous tulips which show their best during March and April, which is also the period for Sakura blossom. The view is really breathtaking. No wonder many locals like to go there to take wedding photography or hold their sweet weddings. It is also a good place for a walk with families and just let kids run happily. It may take half a day to walk over every part of the place if you would like to try. October is also a good time to visit there when most tree leaves turn into red or yellow color. The whole park looks like a golden fairy world.

The grand lawn is especially for an afternoon picnic with friends or families leisurely.

  • Add: Taiziwan Gate, Nanshan Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou
  • Admission: Free
  • Opening Hours: A whole day
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus NOs 4/31/315/514b/514/k822/y2 and get off at Sudi Station (苏堤站).

Tour Idea:

Qinghefang Ancient Street

Qinghefang Ancient Street

Qinghefang Ancient Street (清河坊历史文化街) is the best preserved old ancient block in Hangzhou, which was once the political, business and cultural center from the Yuan Dynasty(1271-1368) to the period before Chinese Liberation Period (1946--1949). It is located at the foot of Wushan Hill, which adds natural charming to this area. Now it is a fun and fascinating pedestrian street for different local snacks, handcrafts and small museums.

Many antique buildings were from the Late Ming and Early Qing Dynasty. Today the street is full of teahouse, famous old stores and curio stalls. Get a local pancake for several bites, have delicious mutton soup in an old restaurant, sip local tea in a teahouse, grab some local handcraft on the stalls, walk into some museums to get a glimpse of culture and history in this area like Zhang Xiaoquan Scissors and Wangxing Ji Fan Store. The street is also home of several traditional pharmacies like Huqingyu Tang Chinese Medicine Museum offering the exhibition of traditional Chinese Medicine and clinic service.

  • Add: No.113, Gaoyin Street, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou
  • Admission: Free
  • Opening Hours: A whole day
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus NO. 35 or Tourism Bus NO.6 and get off at Gaoyin Street Station (高银街站).

Tour Idea:

Wuzhen Ancient Water Town

Wuzhen Ancient Water Town

Located in Tongxiang City of Zhejiang Province, Wuzhen Ancient Water Town (乌镇水乡) is between Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou City. It is only one and a half hour driving time from Hangzhou, thus it becomes one of top choices for visitors in Hangzhou who have one or two days for a side trip.

Though there are 6 famous water towns in this area, which are Zhouzhuang, Xitang, Tongli, Luzhi and Nanxun, it is still the most beautiful and best-preserved one that worth visiting. Tourists are many during Chinese holidays and weekends. Just avoid these annoying days and you could enjoy leisure life whatever it is a rainy day or clear day. On a quiet morning indulge yourself in the village like dating with a shy young lady and at night sit at the river bank to feel the town telling old stories by an attractive woman.
The village is also a living water town museum that still has real people living there, adding charming to the town. With a history of over 1,300 years, the ancient town now shows what a typical southern water town looks like between the Late Qing Dynasty (1840—1911) and the Republic of China (1912-1949) with over 30 stone bridges linking streets lining many old buildings.

Different museums and traditional workshops are specialty of the town. The east side (Wuzhen East) provides fun museums like ancient beds, wine-making, indigo fabric, shadow play, woodcarving and local operas. Wuzhen west offers sauce workshop, iron factory, foot-binding culture museum, old post office and so on. Most visitors choose to stay in Wuzhen Scenic part with accommodations. It is convenient to check in at the Visitor Center and take a free ferry boat to their rooms.

  • Add: Wuzhen Town, Tongxiang City, Zhejiang Province
  • Admission:

    120 Yuan/person for Wuzhen West and 100 Yuan/person for Wuzhen East; 150 Yuan/person for Wuzhen West and Wuzhen East; 80 Yuan/person for night ticket at Wuzhen West;
    80 Yuan/boat for Wuzhen East with up to 8 people and in Wuzhen West 120 Yuan/boat in daytime and 180/boat at night with up to 6 people.

  • Opening Hours: A whole day
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus from Hangzhou Jiubao Bus Station (九堡客运中心) to Wuzhen at 11:00 in the morning with a ticket fare of 31 Yuan/person. It takes 90 minutes usually.

Tour Idea:

What to Do in Hangzhou

Impression of Westlake Show

Impression of Westlake Show

Impression of West Lake (印象西湖) is an amazing show worth watching when traveling to Hangzhou. Directed by Zhang Yi Mou, who was the director of the opening ceremony for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and also directed Impression Sanjie Liu, the show is put on by a cast of 250 locals dancing at the stage. The stage is submerged half in the West Lake and takes the beautiful backdrop of pagodas and temples.

The hour-long show presents the famous Ten Sights of West Lake on the stage. In fact the whole performance consists of several story lines by showing different ancient stories and famous people. If you are not familiar with the culture, it is not easy to understand. However, that does not affect your experience in this excellent show combining amazing lights and music. By the way, the enchanting music of Kitaro adds charm to the show.

The seats are in the open air and there are cheap tickets and VIP seats. Actually do not waste money on pricier tickets. There is not much difference between them. A cheap ticket will just maximize your time. Spring maybe a little bit cold and in summer night remember to use the repellent.

  • Add: No.29, Yanggongdi, Hangzhou City
  • Show time: 19:45-20:45; 21:15-22:15
  • Price: 260 Yuan/person for ordinary seats
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus Nos 7/27/81 and get off at Yumiao Station(岳庙站).

Tour Idea:

Hangzhou Songcheng

Hangzhou Songcheng

In the southwest of West Lake Scenic Area, Songcheng (宋城) is the most popular theme park in China. There are many castles in the park creating actual feeling of the Song Dynasty, which makes one feel walking back to those times and experience the same. After those castle walls local Hangzhou street foods are provided. In the park you will see some people dress up like ancient soldiers going around on horses. Many funny activities like Ghost House, Puppet Shadow Play and Tunnels are offered. What you should really expect is the theater show after 19:00!

The shows tells a love story of how the leadership of the Song Dynasty beat back the invasion from Tibet and Mongolia by music, dancing, visuals and fancy costumes with a cast of about 150 actors. Four acts make up the whole show. Each chapter will have a short line in English explaining the act. Given the splendor of the show, a few explanations are enough.

  • Add: No.148, Zhijiang Road, Hangzhou City
  • Opening Hours: 10:00-21:00 for the theme park and 19:00 for the show
  • Admission: 280 Yuan/person for the ordianary seat; 300 Yuan/person for VIP seat and 480 Yuan/person for VVIP Seat.  The fee includes the admission and the night show.
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus No Y4/Y5/Sightseeng 8/201/308/354/504/658 and get off at Songcheng Stop (宋城站).

Tour Idea:

What to Eat in Hangzhou

Grandma's Restaurant (Hubin Road)

Grandma's Restaurant (Hubin Road)

Grandma’s Restaurant (外婆家) is almost recommended by everybody in town and when you go there, you will not be wrong. They have several locations in the city but what we recommend is the one on Hubin Road since it takes the backdrop of West Lake. They offer yummy local Hangzhou food at very reasonable price. A bowl of Ma Po Dou fu only takes you 3 Yuan!

Every dish worth trying and specialties are chili shrimp, tea flavored chicken, Grandma’s fish balls, Mapo Tofu (hot and spicy tofu), and dissert made with fresh lotus seeds and sticky rice. Different kinds of tea they offer are also very tasty and you could have them for free. Environment and service are surely worth every penny. The menu is friendly with westerners as there are many nice pictures for you to order. You may need to wait for 20 minutes or even an hour after you get the waiting number. Luckily it is situated near West Lake which will not let you bored as you could walk around the lake leisurely. Some free snacks are prepared for customers who would like to sit there and wait. When go to Hangzhou, make sure you do not miss it!

  • Add: 2F, No.3 Hubin Road, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou
  • Opening Hours: 10:00-22:30
  • Price Range/person: $10
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus NOs 25/ 55/206/212/216/ 251/ 290/900/ k105/ k7/ k92/ y1/y8 and get off at Hubin Stop (湖滨站).
Weizhuang Zhiweiguan Restaurant (Yanggongdi)

Weizhuang Zhiweiguan Restaurant (Yanggongdi)

If you are looking for some Hangzhou local snacks in a good environment, you will not be wrong in Weizhuang Zhiweiguan Restaurant(知味观.味庄). It is an old restaurant with a history of 100 years. Specialized in making local snacks and dishes, Zhiweiguan has several locations in Hangzhou. Weizhuang Zhiweiguan Restaurant on Yanggongdi Road is the most popular one as it is near West Lake Colored Port View Fish Garden.

Six stiles make up the restaurant in tranquil surroundings. Must-try dishes there are

Sugar vinegar pork ribs, Dragon Well Tea Cake, duck and Braised sliced pork. Though most staff cannot speak English, they offer English menu which might help you have some ideas of what the dish may look like.

  • Add: No.10-12 Yanggongti, Xihu District, Hangzhou
  • Opening Hours: 10:00-21:00
  • Price Range/person: $17
  • Getting there:
    Bus NOs K7/K55/K194/60/15 reach there

What to Buy in Hangzhou

Meijjiawu Tea Plantation (Dragon Well Village)

Meijjiawu Tea Plantation (Dragon Well Village)

Tea is a local product, which tastes well with delicate fragrance. It is one of the most famous teas in China with good quality. Longjin Village (Dragon Well Village龙井村) is blessed with good location good for producing tea, thus becomes a popular place to buy tea at reasonable price.

It is a large tea plantation where you could relax and breathe fresh air. Shops are available and local families sell tea. If you go there, always remember to bargain. The characteristics of quality tea leaves are bright color, fresh fragrance, tasting refreshing sweet with flat and smooth shape.

  • Add: No.1, Meiling South Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou
  • Getting there: Bus NOs 324/837/y4 and tourism Bus NO.4 pass there.
Silk Market

Silk Market

Hangzhou is a famous silk city producing good silk. If you would like to buy some, go to a local Hangzhou Silk Market(杭州丝绸城) where offers lots of kinds silk for various uses. There are many stores with a variety of choices from pajamas to scarf. However, qualities for those different stores are varied, so make sure you compare and pick up the one you really like with good quality. Don't be ashamed of bargaining there.

  • Add: No. 273, Fengqi Road (near Xinhua Road), Hangzhou
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus NOs 199/201/21/30/32/35/35/5/68/76/76/991 and get off at Xinhua Lukou Station(新华路口站).

 

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