Hangzhou is a city in Eastern China, about an hour by train from Shanghai, renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty. Each year it attracts more than 20 million tourists who come to see what the city has to offer. Set amongst the natural scenery of lakes and mountains, Hangzhou is modern city that coexists with the old. Historic pagodas and cultural sites built around the central lake sit like they belong amidst the skyscrapers and bustling markets of today.
The big eye-catcher of Hangzhou is, by far, West Lake. Covering an area of about 2.5 square miles, the lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides. Because of its beauty and grandeur, West Lake has become a setting for many local legends. Whether you choose to watch the autumn moon glimmer on its surface, look for orioles singing in the willows, view fish in the flower pond, or appreciate its snow-covered bridges in winter, West Lake is a backdrop of natural beauty from all kinds of perspectives. The mountains add to the allure on a misty day, while surrounding structures like the The Leifeng Pagoda pay homage to the region's historical merit. From the top of the pagoda, visitors can capture a panoramic view of the lake below. The lake and its neighboring park areas are also host to shows and performances like the Impression West Lake Show in the Yuehu Lake Scenic Area, showcasing ancient folklore through dance and music.
The city itself is a hub for shopping and dining. It has become a commercial center with markets selling specialties like silks and satins, Hangzhou Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea), and other local handicrafts like parasols and fans. Qinghefang Street, one of the most famous historic streets in the city, reflects features of the Southern Song Dynasty with preserved buildings as a backdrop for the bustling atmosphere. The true commercial center, however, lies along Yanan Road which is home to many public buildings, mansions, theatres, department stores, and restaurants.
As far as cultural neighborhoods go, there are many ancient villages dotted throughout the region. Wuzhen Water Town, for example, boasts more than six thousand years of history and has always been a fertile land with abundant rice, fish and silk. 50 miles from the city, Wuzhen is set amongst picturesque scenery of wandering rivers. The charming town also has many shops, museums, and restaurants. Xitang Water Town is another famous village with a long history and cultural charm.
Beyond shopping, dining, and sight-seeing, Hangzhou is a city of culture and history. The Six Harmonies Pagoda, Grand Canal, and Tomb of General Yue Fei are just a few more of the city's most popular attractions. All three are located within the vicinity of West Lake, surrounded by the beauty of mountains and waterways. One could also spend an entire week of exploring museums with the collections that Hangzhou has to offer. Some of these include the China National Silk Museum, National Tea Museum, Southern Song Dynasty Kiln Museum, Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum, and the Zhejiang Provincial Museum. If that doesn't satisfy your cultural palette, there are many traditional villages throughout the region that put on cultural performances, serve local cuisine, and sell ethnic handicrafts. The Hengdian World Studios is also a neat place to see as it is the largest film studio in Asia, and the largest film and television series theme park in China.
Food and Dining
Though the Hangzhou dining scene consists of a mix of local cuisine, western fare, and eats from other parts of China there are some specialties native to the people of Hangzhou. Some of these include West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy, Braised Dong Po Pork, Beggar's Chicken, and Fried Shrimps with Long Jing Tea Leaves. Hangzhou also boasts a variety of local snacks like steamed stuffed buns, noodles with seafood, shrimp wontons, and smoked fish. Snack Streets are very popular for visitors to frequent, the most famous being He Fang Jie (Qing He Fang). Not only does this street feature some of the best ethnic food, but also teahouses, restaurants, antiques, and handicrafts. Some other great sources for dining include Hedong Road Snack Street, Jingzhou Road Snack Street, Gaoyin Street, Jin Jiang Seafood Snack Street, and Baochu Road Snack Street.
The nearest airport is Xiaoshan International Airport located about 17 miles (27km) from the downtown. It mainly serves Hangzhou and nearby cities like Huzhou, Shaoxing, Jiaxing, and Zhuji. Besides Hong Kong, Macau and Taipei, the international destinations include Singapore, Souel, Amsterdam, Pattaya, Phuket Island, Osaka, Tokyo, and Chiengmai. Domestic air routes to and from Beijing, Chengdu, Jiuzhaigou, Guangzhou, Guilin, Xian, Kunming, Lhasa, and Xiamen are also available.
By train, there are three railways stations in the city: Hangzhou Railway Station, East Railway Station, and South Railway Station. High speed lines to and from Shanghai, Nanjing, Ningbo, and Changsha transport the most passengers.
Long distance bus stations include Passenger Transport Central Station (Jiubao Passenger Transport Center), West Bus Station, North Bus Station, South Bus Station and Hangzhou East Railway Highway Bus Station. There is also a city bus system that includes downtown lines, suburban lines, night lines, and Bus Rapid Transit routes.
Bicycle rentals and taxis are also available.