The beauty of Hangzhou has been revered for centuries. Surrounded by lush greenery and towering mountains, you will feel like you’ve stepped into an elegant Chinese painting. The land is green with agriculture, the architecture is enchantingly rustic and there’s the majestic West Lake, the main attraction of Hangzhou.
Best of Hangzhou
1. West Lake
With Chinese-style gazebos and pagodas adorning the beautiful lake, West Lake’s allure has inspired countless Chinese poets. Come here during the day for a cruise around the lake, visit the Mid-lake Pavilion Tea House, or just relax at the park. CNN Travel deemed it as one of the most beautiful sunset spots in the world.
2. Lingyin Temple
To call the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat grand is no overstatement. There’s much ground to cover and countless artefacts and deities to view at this important Buddhist temple complex on the banks of West Lake.
3. Impression West Lake
At night, West Lake illuminates with a dazzling theatrical show with lights, dance and music on water, helmed by famous director Zhang Yimou. World class theatricals, effects, costumes and songs with the calm lake as its stage is a wonder to behold.
4. Longjing Tea Plantations
The prized Longjing (Dragon Well) tea grown in Hangzhou is the most famous green tea in China, favoured by the Qianlong Emperor. Visit the rolling plantations and watch the meticulous production of this healthy beverage.
5. Feilai Feng
Literally the “Peak Flown from Afar”, Feilai Feng was centuries in the making, and it shows. Over 300 ancient carvings of the Buddha with Indian and Chinese styles on the limestone mountain leave visitors in awe.
6. Hangzhou Botanical Garden
Beautiful blooms are the stars of this 230-hectare garden, with lotus flowers in the summer, osmanthus blooms in the autumn, and plum blossoms in the winter. Various trees and bamboo varieties make the garden verdant all year round.
7. Bamboo-lined Path at Yunqi
Walk the stone path through the dense bamboo grove for an ethereal stroll, with the green panorama and cool air completing the serene scene. The brook weaving across the path and the pavilions along the way give you reasons to stop and write a poetic verse or two.
8. Dongpo Rou
Braised for hours in wine and soy sauce, tender and tasty Dongpo Rou is worth the wait. A foodie’s dream and a cardiologist’s nightmare.
Genuine silk is inexpensive in Hangzhou as there have been silk workshops around since the Qing Dynasty. Visit the Silk Museum to learn more about the fabric’s origins and bargain hard at China Silk City for souvenirs and fabric to wow the folks at home.
Dubbed “Venice of the East” for its numerous waterways, Suzhou is celebrated for its classical gardens, of which the Humble Administrator’s Garden, with its numerous pavilions and bridges, is the largest and most famous of all.
Liuhe (Six Harmonies) Pagoda
Originally built in 970 AD, this pagoda may seem to have 13 floors from the outside, though the interior bears only 7 floors. Located at the foot of Yuelun Hill facing the Qiantang River, the tower is where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains as you ascend the spiral staircase to the top.