If Hangzhou were a woman, she would be unstoppable. She’s been a muse for countless artists and poets, and she’s got real depth, too. In fact, Hangzhou is so beautiful that it’s a little hard to take her all in at times. It’s easy to see how Marco Polo, the first Westerner to visit this part of China, fell head-over-heels in love, praising her as the most beautiful city in the world.
The West Lake is a definite must-see, as it forms the basis for many Chinese garden designs that still exist today. Take a boat ride and lose yourself in the Lesser Yingzhou Isle before you’re found again inside one of Hangzhou’s famous temples. Six Harmonies Pagoda, Lingyin Temple, Leifeng Pagoda… take your pick!
It’s fair to say that if you ever get bored of the picturesque beauty of Hangzhou, you may as well hang up your travelling boots – as there’s nothing more that can impress you.
Hangzhou’s Top 10
10. Su Causeway Why do bridges make everyone get all romantic? If love doesn’t make you squeamish, hold hands and watch as the bridges light up each night.
5. Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea Fields Visit in March and May to see locals picking tea.
9. Tiger Running Dream Spring (Hupaomeng Quan) One of the best parks in Hangzhou is filled with teahouses, pretty trees and pavilions.
4. Six Harmonies Pagoda Bordering tea fields and a beautiful park, this is the most prominent temple in town.
8. Solitary Island (Gu Shan) The largest island lake and a great place just to wander and explore.
3. Three Pools Mirroring the Moon Possibly the best name of any attraction anywhere. You’ll have to see it to believe it.
7. Lingyin Temple Make sure you check out the Buddhist statues.
2. Jade Spring: Lies inside the Hangzhou Botanical Garden and comes with an added mystery surrounding its background.
6. Wushan Square The best views in the city come complete with trials and treks to keep you busy.
1. West Lake One of the most beautiful sights around.
- Leifeng Pagoda – A truly magical site, the crumbling foundation is all that remains of the original building, which was erected in the year 977.
- Lingyin Temple – This active Buddhist temple is one of the three most ancient temples in China.
- Lesser Yingzhou Isle – Built in the early 1600s, this is the largest island on West Lake.
- King Qian's Memorial – Burial site of five kings of the Wuyue Kingdom.
- Jade Emperor Hill – This historical site offers tourists the rare chance to view a Daoist temple.
Hangzhou Art & Culture
- Zhejiang Museum – Take the opportunity to delve deeper into Hangzhou’s culture, history and local arts.
- China Tea Museum – This unique museum offers a look into the traditions of tea drinking in China.
- Huqinyutang Medicine Museum – The perfectly preserved architecture of this building is home to fascinating exhibits
- China Academy of Art – This is the most prestigious university of Fine Art in China.
- Song Dynasty Town – This magnificent location boasts rapturous song and dance performances.
- Hangzhou China Silk Town – This is the best place to find silk and related products at a bargain price.
- MIXC Mall – This new shopping haven is home to famous brands such as Armani and Ferragamo.
- Yan'an Road and Wulin Road – These roads are home to a large concentration of stores and boutiques.
- Night Market – Just off Yan'an Road, travellers will find an evening market that is filled to the brim with Mao memorabilia, luggage, handicrafts and jewellery.
- Longjing Village and Tea Fields – This is the best place to purchase Dragon Well tea.
Gay & Lesbian Hangzhou
- Hangzhou Private Gay Tour – Purple Dragon offers private tours specially tailored to the LGBT community.
- Jundu Bar – This crowded gay bar offers the same spine-tingling excitement of a raucous frat or sorority party.
- East Palace League – This is a massage parlour offering professional oil and deep-tissue massages.
- Xin Ding Ling Sauna – This sauna is one of the best in the area.
- Ramada Plaza Hangzhou – This is one of the best gay-friendly hotels in the region.
- Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea Fields – The best time to visit these fields is from the first week of March till May, during the harvest season.
- Hangzhou Botanical Gardens – These gardens are home to beautiful floral specimens.
- Dreaming of the Tiger Spring – Enjoy the delights of this natural spring, with several historic structures.
- Xixi National Wetlands Park – This is a great place to experience local wildlife.
- Guo's Villa – Don’t miss out on this traditional private garden.
- Enjoy a scenic morning bike ride starting from the north side of the lake.
- Go on an exhilarating mountain hike along the winding stone paths.
- Take the opportunity to show off your skills at the Olympic-sized ice-skating rink in the MIXC Mall.
- Learn tai chi chuan from one of the local instructors.
- Join the "Even If It Rains" local group of runners for a fantastic workout.
West Lake Lotus Flower Festival is a traditional celebration that takes place in July or August.
September washes up the Qiantang Tide Watching Festival.
The Chinese calendar dictates that the Hangzhou Lantern Festival is held on the 15th day of the first lunar month.
Pop your top button in preparation for the Food Festival held in October or November
When To Go
Hangzhou is beautiful all year round, but summertime is when the trees really show their stuff. However, the temperatures are quite hot at this time of year, averaging 30°C (86°F).
Hangzhou’s winters are never absolutely freezing – in a literal sense, at any rate. Even in January the average temperature is around 3°C (37°F).
Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons if you don’t like temperature extremes.
Taxis are another good option and, unlike in a lot of cities, the drivers actually use the meters. However, they generally can’t speak English, so you’ll need to point on a map or learn a little of the local lingo.
It’s easy, cheap and fun to hire a bike. You even get a lock included, so you can leave your wheels in the knowledge they’ll still be there when you get back!
Hangzhou consistently lives up to a reputation as one of the most scenic destinations in China. As a city with a very real and authentic history that dates back over 1,000 years, the Yellow River Delta capital of Zhejiang Province is a welcome break from the wave of super-urban Special Economic Zones that have sprung up out of nowhere across China over the last three decades. As such, Hangzhou has a veritable treasure trove of sites to explore.
It begins with picturesque West Lake, whose natural beauty is predominantly to blame for Hangzhou's status as a looker. A vast network of shrines, temples and historic landmarks line the circumference of the lake, which underwent a recent restoration and cosmetic facelift in order to better serve the metro populace of 6.4 million, not to mention a new generation of visitors to the city. With sites that date back over a millenium, a lively urban scene and nearby tea plantations to explore, Hangzhou has a lot of charm to dish out.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Humid and subtropical Hangzhou experiences humid summers and mild, cool winters. Occasional typhoon rainstorms do strike the city between June and September.
- Winter (December to February) 2-11°C
- Spring (March to April) 7-20°C
- Summer (May to September) 17-33°C
- Fall (October to November) 9-23°C
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