Hangzhou Travel Guide
At first glance Hangzhou looks like a huge modern urban expanse like so many east coast Chinese cities but it has one trump card, the stunning West Lake, the legendary beauty of which has been praised and written about for centuries. A few days exploring the West Lake area and National Park are highly rewarding taking time to relax in the many gardens and pavilions. Less than one hour by bullet train from Shanghai and at the southern end of the Grand Canal finding time to fit in Hangzhou’s ancient pagodas and misty lake views are unlikely to disappoint.
Best Months to Visit Hangzhou
Best Reason to Visit Hangzhou
The West Lake is the main reason to visit Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province. This lake has been an inspiration for Chinese artists, poets and writers for generations due to it’s natural beauty and has also inspired Chinese Garden designers not just in China but throughout the Far East and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for this very reason.
This is also an area famous for it’s tea and it’s well worth getting out to a tea plantation while you are here. March to May is the best time to get tea as the crops harvested at those times have the best conditions, although they will be harvested later in the year as well.
The Lake is surrounded by temples and pagodas that are all worth a visit, often at sunset and sunrise and viewed from a distance.
Top Sights in Hangzhou
It is difficult to say that any one sight around the lake is the top attraction other than the lake itself as a whole and an example of Chinese culture at its best.
The one thing that is a “must” is to get on the lake itself for a boat ride. The boat rides generally take you from one scenic spot to the next, where you can get off and have a look around and take the next boat that arrives when you are ready to see the next section.
The Broken Bridge is perhaps the most romantic area and where you will get the classic view of the lake. This is enhanced by the legend of Lady White Snake, a classic Chinese love story.
Taking in a full day tour here can allow you to see most of the highlights, including some of the “10 scenes of the West Lake” such as “Leifeng Pagoda in the Evening Glow.”
Weather Averages for Hangzhou
Top Hangzhou Travel Tip from TSTC
Hangzhou can be visited as a day trip from Shanghai using the ultra modern bullet train system that takes about an hour from Shanghai Hongqaio Station. If you feel a day is enough for you it is quite easily possible to take in a boat trip on the lake, some significant temples or buildings and visit a tea plantation, all in one day and be back in your hotel in Shanghai by evening time. Also a great opportunity to try out the superb bullet trains if you haven’t already on your trip.
Stay at a hotel near or right by the West Lake. They are more costly but it’s well worth the extra to be close to the natural beauty that is for all to see around this area and makes an evening stroll around the lake a must.
TSTC's Hand Picked Hotels in Hangzhou
Hotels do come at a price around the West Lake, for obvious reasons, but that really is the area you want to be. The Jinxi Hotel is one of the best locations in a quiet part of the lakeshore surrounded by greenery and the hotel is clean, quiet and comfortable. It also weighs in significantly more cost effective than the big hotel chains surrounding that are significantly more expensive.
The Crystal Orange is a modern “hip” hotel although not to everyone’s taste. it does have a good location in an area that has a good mix of closeness to lake and life.
By Phil Stanley & Headseast – TCTC Destination Expert.