Top 5 Attractions in Hangzhou
Discover storybook beauty in this historic Chinese capital.
Hangzhou is considered one of China’s most famous and most beautiful destinations. Home to the legendary West Lake, which resembles a traditional Chinese garden on the grandest scale, the city is a must-see for anyone interested in the Far East. Known as one of China’s most prosperous business centres, Hangzhou (pronounced “hung-jo”) is a city of more than 6.5 million people, located on the country’s east coast, just 45 minutes by bullet train southwest of Shanghai. Though business and international designer shopping centres are nearby, you’ll also find authentic and historic attractions that epitomize Hangzhou’s dynamic culture. Here are the top five you shouldn’t miss.
This vast lake—covering 600 hectares (1,500 acres)—is framed on three sides by mountain peaks and on one side by the city skyline. The rich green shoreline is dotted with ancient temples, towering pagodas and delicate bridges, creating an idyllic picture of China’s past. Hop on a guided boat tour for West Lake’s most scenic views, or join the Hangzhou locals who flock to lakeside parks to walk, cycle and meet for tea.
Tea house tradition
Tea has always been an important part of Hangzhou’s economy. The area is well known for Longjing (Dragon Well), the precious green tea that is often called the national drink of China. Visit one of the area’s historic tea houses, where you’ll experience traditional tea service and sample a variety of sweet and savoury snacks. If you’re a true tea connoisseur, take a day trip to a neighbouring tea plantation. At Longjing Village, you can pick tea alongside villagers during harvest season, which usually begins in late March and runs through August, though peak time for picking is during March and April.
Pagoda of Six Harmonies
One of China’s most significant pagodas—originally constructed in AD 970—this octagonal brick-and-wood structure overlooks the Qiantang River. Seen from the outside, the pagoda appears to tower 13 storeys on the hillside; inside you’ll find only seven storeys. This early version of a skyscraper offers postcard-worthy views of the river and city.
Of Hangzhou’s several temples and monasteries, the most renowned is Lingyin Si, or the Temple of Soul’s Retreat. A highlight is the shimmering gold leaf–painted Buddha, one of China’s largest wooden statues. The temple is also noted for its caves and grottos, which feature religious carvings created by resident monks from the 10th to the 14th century.
Silk street shopping
Hangzhou has been known for centuries as China’s Silk Capital. The merchants of Xinhua Road and Jiankang Road make up the largest wholesale and retail silk market in China. In these pedestrian-only boulevards, you’ll find a bustling mix of old and new stores showcasing all varieties of Chinese silk.