Hangzhou China – Situated to the east, not far from the great city of Shanghai, Hangzhou is the ultimate getaway town. An escape from the bustle of the city, Hangzhou offers some of the most beautiful scenic countryside East China has to offer. Its West Lake being the main attraction, with surrounding forests, temples, and traditional restaurants. A weekend here is guaranteed to reveal the ancient spirit of China and revitalise weary travellers.
How to Get There
It’s actually nice and easy to get from Shanghai to Hangzhou. There aren’t any direct flights but you can take the bullet train in just one hour. It costs between 50-80 RMB and is direct. You can also take the local train if you’re travelling on a budget which will take the cost down to 25-30 RMB but will take 2-3 hours.
From Hongqiao railway station you can catch the train every 5-10 minutes so there’s no need to book in advance. They’re less frequent from Shanghai Railway Station so it’s worth checking the times online ahead of time.
Hongqiao airport is very near Hongqiao railway station. Terminal 2 of the airport is walking distance to the station and metro line 10 runs between them both.
When you arrive to the city, you can explore it on your own or book this city tour for example.
Where to Stay – Ho Fang International Youth Hostel
The lovely Ho Fang International Youth Hostel is within a 15-minute walk of Ding’an Road Subway station and the scenic West Lake. You’re also just 1.2 miles from Hangzhou Railway station making it nice and easy to drop off your bags before exploring. There’s a shopping mall nearby and they offer bicycle rental which is perfect as Hangzhou is a biker friendly city.
The beautiful Chinese restored building makes this an incredible choice for the price and both private and dorm room options are available. They also have lots of books you can borrow. It’s located on Hefang Pedestrian Street which has lots of food and drink options nearby.
There’s a Chinese and Western restaurant on site, as well as a café, and they offer laundry service. Great location and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Perfect.
Book here: Ho Fang International Youth Hostel
Where to stay – Han Xuan Boutique Hostel
The Han Xuan Boutique Hostel suits people who are trying to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while still being close to the main attractions in Hangzhou. This tranquil hostel is near to some beautiful nature walks and is very close to Lingyin Temple, Wushan Square, and the Xixi Wetland. They also have a grill, and serve an amazing Asian breakfast.
The owners go out of their way to help guests and will accommodate early or late check-ins and check-outs to the best of their ability. There’s a shared lounge area and the beautiful, bright, and minimalist design of the rooms make this a very relaxing choice while in Hangzhou. They only have private rooms and this has more of a mid-range hotel feel than a hostel.
Book here: Han Xuan Boutique Hostel
Where to stay – The Mountain Hotel
The Mountain hotel is based at the top of Baileqiao, Ligyin Scenic Area, so has stunning mountain views, you’re also located just 701m to Lingyin Temple.
Luxurious rooms, private facilities, and free use of their bicycles make this a great stay if you love nature. Wushan Square and the Xixi wetlands are nearby.
Book here: The Mountain Hotel
Hangzhou China #1 – Visit the famous West Lake (Xihu)
If you have to do one thing in Hangzou, it should be to visit the West Lake. Perfect for cycling around or a long walk, there are plenty of gardens, pagodas, temples, and artificial islands to explore along the way. There were be plenty of people trying to sell you tickets to a boat trip around the lake. It’s definitely worth doing, particularly around sunset when you can get some stunning shots of the sun going down behind the mountains.
You can also watch the Impression West Lake show by booking this tour online.
You have a range of options for the boat ride, the cheapest option being a self-row boat which you can rent for an hour at 30 RMB, you can also ride the big painted dragon boats for around 70RMB. The most common option is a small group ride in a rowing boat. The driver leaves once his boat his full so don’t worry about coming as a group.
The lake has been named a UNESCO world heritage site and has ten tremendous scene or ‘ten scenic spots in West Lake’. See if you can find all ten…
Hangzhou China #2 – Visit the 345 faces at Fei Lai Feng
Another must-see in Hangzhou, right next to the Buddhist Lingying Temple is Fei Lai Fang. A grand mountain at 168 metres high, the main attractions are the 345 Buddha statues which are handcrafted out of stone. The ancient statues were mainly crafted during the Song and Yuan dynasties,
The mountain is named Fei Lang (flying) because folklore states that it ‘flew’ from another place and landed there. You can take some amazing pictures here and it’s easy to squeeze this trip as you visit Lingying Temple (below).
Access: there are several tourist buses that head there and it’s also possible to take a taxi.
Hangzhou China #3 – Light incense at Lingyin Temple
The prominent Lingyin Temple was opened in 326AD and was founded by Master Hui li, a Western Indian monk. This temple is particularly special as it’s one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in China. The architecture is particular impressive with its grand and scared halls – the Heavenly Kings Hall, the Mahavira Hall, and the Yaowang Hall. It’s a large temple so you can easily explore it for an hour or two, light some incense and enjoy the surrounding views.
Access: The easiest way is to take a taxi (taxis are very reasonable in Hangzhou) but there are also tourist buses which leave from the railway station.
Hangzhou China #4 – Learn about Folklore at Leifeng Pagoda
Leifeng Pagoda is an antiquated five-story tower on the south of West Lake. This unique eight-sided pagoda is eye-catching and you won’t be able to miss it during your time in Hangzhou. It has some legendary history as it appears in the folktale ‘The Legend of the White Snake’ which describes a scholar and a snake demon. The demon is meant to have imprisoned the monk in the pagoda for eternity. Thanks to this tale, it’s a very popular visiting spot for Chinese people and those who know the tale.
Hangzhou China #5 – Take a walk around Xixi Wetland Park
If you love nature then this popular place is perfect, it’s one of the most well-known tourist attractions in China and features six main watercourses. There are plenty of wild animals, natural plants, and gorgeous scenery that makes for amazing pictures. The fishing village, thatched cottage, autumn snow temple and Xixi water attic are particularly unique and picturesque. I highly recommend making time to visit here.
Access: There are free shuttle buses from the West Lake as well as a number of tourist buses available.
Hangzhou China #6 – Eat Hang Dim Sim
Head to Zhi Wei Guan, a wonderful restaurant that offers traditional Hang snacks, dishes, and desserts. Opened in 1913, they have a long history that you can see in the traditional décor. You can also find a beautiful terrace where you can enjoy a view of the West Lake. There’s large range of dim sum available, from budget (20 RMB) onwards. Dishes you can try include Xihi fish in gravy and beggar’s chicken. This is a lovely way to try traditional lots of traditional dishes and enjoy one of the most scenic views in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou China #7 – Explore Hefang Street
This is the best area for shopping in Hangzhou, and is also a scenic pedestrian street which is perfect for street-shots. Traditional style vendors, teahouses, souvenir shops, paper cutting stores, street food. The scent of Chinese medicine permeates the air making this a very authentic experience in Hangzhou. You’ll also find plenty of calligraphy supplies to purchase and get your name painted in calligraphy as souvenirs. This is a lovely place to people watch so head to a tea house and just enjoy the atmosphere.
Hangzhou China #8 – Hyatt 28
Taking pride of place amongst Asia’s top 50 restaurants for the past three years, Hyatt 28 is not to be passed up. The restaurant, situated in the Hyatt Hotel, is the perfect place for lunch, serving traditional Hang cuisine.
Hangzhou China #9 – National Tea Museum
China is more than just famous for its tea fields and tea-growing industry; it is very much defined by it. And here is one of the ultimate experiences for both tea-lovers and Chinese history enthusiasts. Nestled inside acres of real green tea fields, the museum teaches of the histories, traditions, ceremonies, and processes surrounding Chinese black, green, and white tea. You can also take part in a tea-tasting ceremony and enjoy the nearby teahouses to get the full Hangzhou tea experience.
Hangzhou China #10 – Hangzhou Botanical Gardens
If you’ve visited a botanical garden before, you’ll know what to expect here. With one big difference: these gardens feature their own bamboo forest and a glade of over 5000 plum trees. The traditional Chinese aesthetic is something to get happily lost in.
Hangzhou is beloved by so many who live in East China, and by now you can surely see why. This paradise blend of city and country, housing China’s most famous lake, is the perfect place to discover the more traditional and peaceful side of Chinese life.
For more tips to explore China, feel free to check out these blog posts too: China Travel Blog.