One hour away from Shanghai, by high-speed rail, Hangzhou is a renowned city for over 2,000 years in China and for centuries it has shimmered with the charms of West Lake. From an iconic boat trip on West Lake to a perfect side trip to Wuzhen water town, we’ve listed the 7 best things you should not miss out when traveling in Hangzhou.
1. Boat on West Lake
If you haven’t visited West Lake (西湖), you cannot say you have been to Hangzhou. It is a large lake with several causeways and verdant islets and has been nationally famous for the “Ten Scenes of West Lake” (ten famous scenic spots in West Lake) since the South Song dynasty (1127-1279).
However, most of them are seasonal and you can’t see all of them at one time. The best way to see most sights of the lake is to walk along the path in a clear day, take a boat ride, or take a ferry to visit one of its islets.
- Address: West Lake Scenic Area, West Lake District, Hangzhou City
- Admission: free
- Opening Hours: 24/7
- Getting there: metro line 1 or bus Nos. K4, 28, 15, 27, or 7
- Tour idea: 1-Day West Lake Walking Tour
2. Greet the Carved Buddhas in Lingyin Temple
Located to the west of West Lake, Linyin Temple (灵隐寺) is the oldest temple in Hangzhou with a history of almost 1,700 years. (It was built in 326 when an Indian monk called Hui Li brought Buddhism to Hangzhou.)
The surroundings of the temple are tranquil but you can see many worshippers there every day because they believe the Buddha will help their wishes come true.
In front of the temple is Flying Peak (飞来峰). Along the way up you will be greeted by many different statues of Buddha carved into stones. Take note that one must buy the ticket for Flying Peak before entering the temple. There is free entry for Flying Peak Scenic Area before 5:30 in the morning. 2 hours is enough time for a comfortable visit.
- Address: No.1, Fayun Lane, Lingyin Rd., West Lake District, Hangzhou
- Admission: 30 RMB/person for Flying Peak, 45 RMB/person for Lingyin Temple
- Opening Hours: 07:00-18:15
- Getting there: bus Nos. 7, 807, Tourist 1, 2, or 4 to Lingyin stop
- Tour idea: One-Day Classic Hangzhou Tour
3. Overlook from the Top of Liuhe Pagoda
Sit on the Yuelun Hill overlooking Qiantang River and see Liuhe Pagoda (六和塔). Literally Six Harmonies (Liuhe) Pagoda, was built for suppressing Qiantang tide in 970. Visitors can get views of the Qiantang River and its bridge from the top of this 7-story (13-story from outside 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. The park aims to present the essence of Chinese pagoda culture.
- Address: 16 Zhijiang Road, West Lake District, Hangzhou
- Admission: 30 RMB/person (including an extra fee of 10 RMB/person for ascending to the pagoda)
- Opening Hours: 06:30-17:30
- Getting there: bus Nos. 4, 189, 314, 318, 318b, or 354 to Liuhe Pagoda stop.
- Tour idea: 2-Day Hangzhou Tour from Shanghai
4. Hang Out in Qinghefang Ancient Street
Qinghefang Ancient Street
Qinghefang (清河坊) Ancient Street is the best preserved ancient neighborhood in Hangzhou, which was Hangzhou’s business center from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) until 1948. Today the area is full of teahouses, curio shops and food stalls- good for whiling away free time.
Qinghefang is also home of several traditional pharmacies like Huqingyu Tang Chinese Medicine Museum, offering the practice of traditional Chinese Medicine and clinic service.
- Address: No.113, Gaoyin Street, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou
- Admission: free
- Opening Hours: 24/7, but usually active during 10:00-21:00
- Getting there: bus Nos. 8, 60, 117, 127, 195, 208, or 216 to Qinghefang stop
- Tour idea: One-Day Cultural Hangzhou Tour
5. Stay Overnight in Wuzhen Water Town
Only a one and a half hour drive from Hangzhou City, Wuzhen Water Town is one of best choices for travelers in Hangzhou who have one or two days for a side trip.
Blessed with well-preserved old buildings and charming night views, the over-1,300-year-old Wuzhen nowadays serves as a living water town museum with traditional workshops. The east side (Dongzha, 东栅) provides fun museums with things like ancient beds, wine-making, indigo fabric, shadow play, woodcarving and local operas, while the west (Xizha, 西栅) offers a sauce workshop, an iron factory, a foot-binding culture museum, old post office, and so on.
- Address: Wuzhen Town, Tongxiang City, Zhejiang Province
- Admission: 120 RMB/person for Wuzhen West and 100 RMB/person for Wuzhen East, 150 RMB/person for both
- Opening Hours: The bus departs every 45 minutes from 6:25 to 18:15
- Getting there: take direct bus from Hangzhou Coach Center (also called Jiubao Bus Station, 九堡客运中心) to Wuzhen. It’s cost is 28 RMB.
- Tour idea: 4-Day Hangzhou and Wuzhen Tour
6. Savor Longjing at Meijiawu Tea Plantation
Renowned for planting and producing high-quality Longjing (Dragon Well) tea, Meijiawu Tea Plantation (梅家坞茶园) is a large and quiet place ideal for experiencing Chinese tea culture, where you can enjoy a cup of afternoon tea at a courtyard, pay a visit to the houses of local tea farmers, buy some authentic Chinese teas at reasonable prices, or more luckily, join in the work of producing tea.
- Address: No.1, Meiling South Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou
- Admission: free
- Opening Hours: 24/7, but usually active during 8:00-17:00
- Getting there: bus Nos. 103, 121b, 121, 122, or 324 to Meijiawu stop
- Tour idea: 2-Day Essence of Hangzhou Tour
7. Taste Hangzhou Cuisine at Zhiweiguan Restaurant
If you are looking for some Hangzhou local dishes and snacks in a good environment, try Weizhuang Zhiweiguan Restaurant(知味观.味庄).
With a history of over 100 years, Zhiweiguan is specialized in serving local cuisine and has several branches in Hangzhou. The one on Yanggongdi (杨公堤) Road is the most popular as it is near Huagang Park and provides great views of West Lake.
Must-try dishes include: Shrimp Meat with Longjing Tea, West Lake Fish in Vinegar, Dongpo Pork, Beggar’s Chicken, and Dragon Well Tea Cake. Though most staff cannot speak English, they offer English (maybe Chinglish) menu which might help you have some ideas of what the dish may look like.
- Address: No.10-12 Yanggongdi Rd, Xihu District, Hangzhou; No. 83 Renhe Rd, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou (Head Office)
- Opening hours: 10:30-16:00, 16:30-20:00
- Price range/person: 157 CNY (about 23 USD)
- Getting there: bus Nos. 51, 52, 194, 197b, 318, or 318b to Yuhuwan (浴鹄湾) stop
- Tour idea: tailor-make a Hangzhou foodie walking tour with us.
Experience Hangzhou Your Way
Making Paper Umbrella in Hangzhou
“Paradise above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below”, this old saying in China indicates that for the Chinese, Hangzhou shares a similar attraction as paradise. Meanwhile, as home to the e-commerce giant Alibaba, Hangzhou is also an emerging technology hub with ubiquitous hi-tech elements, waiting for your exploration. You can customize an in-depth Hangzhou experience tour with us, or find some inspiration from our tour packages:
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