The Chinese consider Hangzhou one of the most beautiful cities in the country and even in the world. Chinese poets sang about it, composed songs about it, painted pictures, and not in vain – the place is really very beautiful. This ancient city is one of the former capitals of the country (now the capital of Zhejiang province), since then it has preserved many architectural monuments surrounded by picturesque landscapes – among mountains, rivers, lakes and lush vegetation.
Hangzhou is one of the most popular weekend destinations in China, so many Chinese come here for the weekend. See Bridgat for climate and weather information of China.
How to get there
Despite its name, Hangzhou International Airport mainly handles domestic flights. From Europe, you can only get here by boarding a plane in Amsterdam, and the rest of the external flights arrive from various cities in Asia. So without transfers from Russia it will not be possible to get here – and it will be most convenient to make them in China, for example, in Beijing, Hong Kong or Shanghai.
The airport is located 30 kilometers east of the city, a taxi ride will take you from 30 minutes to an hour, and will cost about 80-120 CNY.
And when you are about to leave, before you start packing your things in the car, check with the taxi driver if he is ready to take you to the airport – many of them are not particularly eager to go there.
In addition, buses run to the city – they leave every half an hour during the daytime, and a ticket for them costs 20-50 CNY.
If you do not want to make any transfers at all, you can also get to Hangzhou directly from Shanghai – they are only 200 kilometers apart. There are buses from Shanghai Airport to Hangzhou, departing every half an hour from 10:00 to 21:00.
It is most convenient to travel around Hangzhou by buses, there are a lot of them here and they travel even at night. The only difficulty you may encounter is that it is not so easy to navigate them without knowing Chinese at all. Despite the many tourists visiting the city, the names of stops are duplicated in English only on some routes, and various maps and timetables are almost never translated at all.
The city has several different types of routes with different ticket prices – from 5 CNY to 10 CNY.
Here you can buy tickets in advance, and directly from the driver – but in the second case, it is better to make sure that you have the required amount without change.
Taxis in the city are slightly less than buses. But there are quite a few taxi drivers who know English here, so it’s better to figure out in advance how you will explain yourself to them.
Entertainment and attractions in Hangzhou
The main attraction of the city is Lake Xihu – or West Lake – one of the most famous and most beautiful lakes in China. It is located in a huge park area in the western part of the city. Entrance here, unlike most other Chinese parks, is free. There are three islands on the lake, on which artificial pools have been created and pagodas have been built, and the lake itself is crossed by three large bridges from which a beautiful view opens. On the shore you can rent a boat or join excursions on a pleasure boat.
Six Harmonies Pagoda, built at the beginning of the 10th century, is located 8 kilometers from the lake. Due to its high height – as many as 13 floors – the pagoda served as a lighthouse for a long time, but now from its upper floors you can just admire the panorama of the surroundings.
Another famous ancient building in the city is the Temple of Soul Refuge, the most famous Buddhist monastery in all of China. It was built by an Indian monk back in 326. Not far from the temple is a statue of the Laughing Buddha, which, according to legend, brings good luck to anyone who touches it.
For centuries, Hangzhou has been growing the finest teas and producing fine silk. Both industries have their own museums where you can learn about their history, and in the tea museum you can also participate in the collection or try local green tea.
However, the list of local museums does not limit this – there is also a paper museum, a museum of Chinese medicine and a museum of porcelain kilns.