Hangzhou, the capital and the largest city of Zhejiang Province, is one of the prettiest cities as well as one of the most enjoyable cities in the country. The green spaces and hilly landscape that surround the city make Hangzhou unique in Eastern China. Here are some highlights recommended when you travel in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou’s greatest claim to fame is the beautiful West Lake, situated right in the central city. It is a fresh water lake and renowned for its natural surroundings and history. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the lake covers an area of 6.5 square kilometers (650 hectares). On average, the lake is 3 meters deep. It has numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands located within. The lake’s 11 sections have over 100 scenic spots! Every year, the area is buzzing with tourists and locals between the months of June and September, when its lotus flowers are in full bloom. Its beauty earned the lake the reputation of being a “paradise on earth.”
Qiandao Lake (Thousand Island Lake) is a man-made lake located in western Chun’an County, Zhejiang Province. It was created after the completion of the Xin’anjiang hydroelectric station in 1959. The lake’s scenery features blossoming forests and exotic islands, both of which provide a fitting habitat to local wildlife. A total of 1,078 large islands dot the water and a couple of thousand smaller ones are sprinkled across, gaining the lake its name. It covers an area of 573 square kilometers (57,300 hectares), with an average depth of 34 meters. The water in the lake is crystal clear and even drinkable. Visibility in the water can be up to 12 meters.
With a history spanning over 1,700 years, Lingyin Temple (Temple of the Soul’s Retreat) was founded in 328 during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (316-420) by an Indian monk. Sheltered by forested hills on three sides, it is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Hangzhou, also one of China’s largest and most visited Buddhist temples and holds the largest statue of the Buddha Sakyamuni sitting on a lotus throne.
Qiantang River is the largest river in Zhejiang Province, running along a total length of 688 kilometers (427.5 miles). The extraordinary surging tide of the Qiantang River, a world-renowned wonder of nature, is an absolutely spectacular sight and it is said that only the Amazon River’s tide can rival it! The tide is created by the gravitational pull of the stars and planets. The turn of the tide takes place on the 18th day of the eighth lunar month (around Mid-Autumn Day). At that time, the water can rise up to 9 meters (30 feet) and travel at up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour. A Tidal Bore Watching Festival, along with various activities, takes place in celebration of the soaring tide.
Qinghefang Ancient Street
Qinghefang Ancient Street, located in central Hangzhou, has been the place to go for shopping and dining since ancient times. It is one of the oldest streets as well as the only well-preserved historic street in the city. You can find many famous century-old shops and restaurants in this ancient street, such as the Wangxingji Fan Store, Zhangxiaoquan Scissors, Wanlong Ham Stack, Zhuangyuan Noodle Restaurant and Wangruixing Restaurant. It is a perfect place to experience both the historical and cultural character of Hangzhou.
Six Harmonies Pagoda (Liuhe Pagoda)
Sitting on the Yuelun Hill southwest to the West Lake, the Six Harmonies Pagoda is one of the masterpieces of ancient Chinese architecture. First built in 970 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), the pagoda is octagonal in shape and nearly 60 meters (196 feet) in height. It looks like a 13-story structure from outside, but it only has seven interior stories. A spiral staircase inside the pagoda leads you up to the top floor. Each of the seven ceilings is decorated with a variety of figures including animals, birds, flowers and fairies. At the top of the pagoda, you can enjoy a picturesque bird’s-eye view of the Qiantang River and its bridge.
Songcheng Scenic Area
Located southwest of Hangzhou’s West Lake, the Songcheng Scenic Area is a theme park featuring the culture of Song Dynasty (960-1279). It is the most popular theme park in China, where you can enjoy the song and dance performance, as well as traditional folk performances such as acrobatics, magic tricks and other traditional folk games. The entire experience can take you back to the ancient dynastical times of 1,000 years ago. The park also has plenty of food stands if you are hungry.
Xixi National Wetland Park
Xixi National Wetland Park, located only five kilometers (3.11 miles) from the West Lake in Hangzhou, is the first and the only national wetland park combining urban life, farming and culture. Covering a total area of 1,150 hectares, the park has a history of more than 1,800 years and is famous for its variety of water views and cultural heritage. It is crisscrossed with six principal watercourses, with various ponds, lakes and swamps scattered across.
Zhexi Grand Canyon
Located in Lin’an City, a city administered by Hangzhou, the Zhexi Grand Canyon has a grand waterway with a total length of more than 80 kilometers (49.71 miles). The canyon has three main scenic sections. The first section, called “Longjing Canyon,” features an exotic peak, a graceful waterfall and steep rocks, stretching across some 18 kilometers. The second section, called “Shangxi Canyon” which extends over a length of 26 kilometers (16.16 miles), features a very steep topography but is most reputed for its exotic collection of mountain stones. The third section, called “Zhemen Canyon” which runs for 30 kilometers (18.64 miles), is famous for its layers of mountain waterfalls and flowing mists. The canyon is an ideal place to enjoy the natural beauty on your summer holidays.
Longmen Ancient Town
Longmen Ancient Town, located on the south bank of Fuchun River, 52 kilometers (32.31 miles) southwest from the Hangzhou city center, is a town famous for its well-preserved architecture of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). The two ancestral halls make up the main architectural sites of the town. There are in total more than 40 halls, three decorated gateways, one pagoda and one temple, most of which are heritage buildings. The lanes and alleys are all interconnected, turning the whole town into one big maze.