Situated in the southern end of the Grand Canal, Hangzhou, one of the seven ancient national capitals in China, is endowed with a long history, breathtaking scenery and rich culture, and is reputed as being the most beautiful and elegant city in the world.
Hangzhou is best known for its West Lake which has been lauded over the centuries in both songs and poems. The famous European explorer Marco Polo once wrote, ‘indeed a voyage on this lake offers more refreshment and delectation than any other experience on earth’. In addition, other attractions like Qiandao Lake and Lingyin Temple also entice tourists to venture to Hangzhou each year.
Let Chinatour.com handle every aspect of your trip to beautiful Hangzhou — choose from our affordable travel packages below or give us a call to create your own custom China travel package!
Get Lost in the Charming Beauty of West Lake
It is said that the beauty of Hangzhou lies in the breathtaking view of West Lake, a must-see attraction for your Hangzhou trip. Nestled in the green hills on three sides, West Lake is a freshwater lake divided by the causeway of Su Di, Yanggong Di, Bai Di. There are many temples, pagodas and gardens near the lake. Leifeng Pagoda is very famous for the folk legend of Madam White Snake.
West Lake was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. The lake has different views in a day and four seasons, which forms the fabulous “Ten Views of West Lake”. It was defined as having “influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries” by UNESCO.
Watch Impression West Lake
Impression West Lake is an attractive art show which performs every night. The adapted folk stories and myths are performed on the stage which is built an inch (3 cm) below the surface of the lake. Impression West Lake was directed by Zhang Yimo who uses the lake and its surroundings as a set and hundreds of performers to create sensational effects. Through watching the performance, the scene of Impression West Lake seems to take the audience back to ancient times.
Enjoy a Taste of Hangzhou Cuisine
Hangzhou Cuisine is characterized by the fresh, sweet and tender flavor which is very enjoyable for foreign visitors. The famous dishes include Dongpo Rou (pork), beggar’s chicken and West Vinegar Lake. These dishes deserve to be experienced by tourists to Hangzhou from abroad.
Drink Tea in Teahouses
Drinking tea in teahouses is a perfect way to kill time and take a break after a tiring day of exploring Hangzhou. Hangzhou is known as one of the tea capitals offering the famous tea, Xi Hu Long Jing. The teahouses usually located by the lake or in the mountains. Most teahouses offer dim sum and/or fruit for customers.
Ordering a pot of tea and waiting for the sunrise over the mountains and lake in the early morning is an unforgettable experience. You will need to get up rather early to catch the sun coming up, but the view will be more than worth it!
The climate of Hangzhou is humid subtropical with four distinctive seasons. Hangzhou is a place which is suitable to be visited at any time of the year.
Springtime is generally warm and slightly windy. Many locals and tourists take time to enjoy the primroses and other beautiful flowers by wandering along West Lake. Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring, one of Ten Views of West Lake, will provide you the most beautiful view. Spring is also the harvest time for tea farmers.
Summer is typically hot and humid. Lotuses blossom from early June until late August or early September and have enjoyed the reputation since the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 CE). Yang Wanli, a poet during the Song Dynastey, once wrote, “Lotus Leaves grow to the sky with endless green, lotus blossoms bathed in the sunlight appear especially red”. Carved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer is the best site to enjoy the beauty of the lotuses.
It is cool in autumn: the Osmanthuses blossom in October and the air is scented with the their aroma. The Qingtang River and bay are best known as the world’s largest tidal bore, as its rising tidal waters will travel against the normal current. A rare phenomenon in nature, the tidal bore attracts many tourists at home and abroad every year. Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn, another one of Ten Views of West Lake, is a spot with picturesque surroundings to view the full moon.
Winder in Hangzhou is often chilly. The trees and flowers wither but plum blossoms are a beautiful sight in the cold weather. Winter provides a totally different tranquil view of the surrounding countryside. Remnant Snow on the Bridge in Winter is a very enchanting attraction in winter.
As a prosperous tourist city, Hangzhou is gifted with abundant travel resource, such as the breathtaking West Lake, ancient Six Harmonies Pagoda, characteristic Meijiawu Tea Plantation, captivating Xitang water town, Ancient Village Wuzhen, sacred Lingyin Temple, enchanting Thousand Islets Lake, famous Mountain Putuo and the likes. No matter what your preference on attraction is, historical sites, scenic sites or cultural sites, Hangzhou has something for you.
Hangzhou was once the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 CE). It enjoys the reputation of being “paradise on earth”, “the city of silk” and “capital of Chinese tea”. With its unique entertainment atmosphere and cultural offerings, Hangzhou is praised as the city of entertainment in China.
Hangzhou native residents speak what is known as the Wu dialect and it was the capital of State of Wu during Five Dynasties and Ten Nations period (907 -979 CE) and the Southern Song Dynasty when a large number of northern peoples moved into Hangzhou. Thus, the Wu dialect features some elements of the official language of China even today. Although Hangzhou’s dialect is highly localized, Mandarin Chinese is still the predominant spoken language.
Hangzhou is not only famous for the beauty of West Lake but also for Xi Hu Long Jing, a notable variety of green tea. Xi Hu Long Jing, grows on the mountains around West Lake, and is regarded by many as the champion among all Chinese tea. Hangzhou has been producing Xi Hu Long Jing since the Tang Dynasty.
Citizens in Hangzhou are fond of teahouses” killing time or enjoying the beautiful scenery in teahouse is great joy to visitors of the city. There are over 700 teahouses which form several schools in Hangzhou. Among teahouses serving tea art is Taiji Teahouse where you can actually watch the process of making tea. Some cultural teahouses like Heji Teahouse are also a place to enjoy a traditional show and collect antiques.
The Legend of Hangzhou
A very famous story about Hangzhou is called the Tales of White Serpent. During the Song Dynasty, a shepherd boy saved a snake. Hundreds of years later, this snake transformed into a beautiful lady named Bai Suzhen and found the reincarnated shepherd boy Xu Xian. Bai Suzhen married Xu Xian, but the marriage was opposed by Fa Hai, a Buddhist monk who insisted that the human being should not unite with an evil spirit. He then tried his best to imprison Bai Suzhen in Leifen Pagoda which stands on the south bank of West Lake.
Hangzhou local cuisine is representative of Zhejiang provincial cuisine, one of the eight famous culinary schools in China. Hangzhou local cuisine is characterized by freshness, tenderness, softness and a mellow fragrance. Some famous dishes like West Lake Vinegar Fish, Dongpo Meat, Beggar’s Chicken and Longjing Shrimp are best known among tourists.
Besides the breathtaking landscape, Hangzhou is also home to diverse types of food. Such local specialties as West Lake Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Shallot Stuffed Pancake, Shelled Shrimp with Dragon Well Tea, West Lake Water Shield Soup, Dongpo Pork and Jiaohua Chicken, are easily available in such local restaurants like Louwailou Restaurant, Wang Run Xing Restaurant and Tianwaitian Restaurant.
What to Eat in Hangzhou
The meat of live river prawns are stir-fried with Longjing tea. With a light and fragrant flavor, Longjing prawn is a very famous and traditional dish in Hangzhou. It is said that this dish was created when Emperor Qian Long of Qing Dynasty when he visited south China. Louwailou is the famous restaurant to serve this dish.
Dongpo Pork is another famous dish in Hangzhou. The half fat and lean pork are cut into lumps and then put into the soup with soy sauce, scallion, ginger and sugar. After being stewed in a sealed earthen pot, the mouthwatering dish is served. The taste can be described as oily but not greasy. According to legend, Dongpo Pork was created by Su Dongpo (1037 -1101 CE), a great poet during the Song Dynasty.
West Lake Vinegar Fish
West Lake Vinegar Fish is very traditional delicacy in Hangzhou. Before cooking, the live fish from West Lake is kept in hungry for one or two days, which can get rid of the smell of mud. After it is poached, the juice which is made from sugar and vinegar with other ingredients is poured over the fish.
As its name suggested, Beggars’ Chicken was created by a beggar who was very hungry and stole a chicken but didn’t have a pot to cook it so that he wrapped the chicken with mud and roasted it in a bonfire. The cooked chicken tasted very delicious and fragrant. Now Beggars’ Chicken is wrapped with dough and other ingredients are added.
Steamed Bun with shrimp stuffing
The flour skin of steamed bun is mixed with eggs and filled with chopped shrimp. It is a kind of dim sum or snack item. When it was served, the steamed bun usually is dipped in vinegar with pepper and ginger slivers.
Where to Eat in Hangzhou
He Fang Street
This is a food street located at the foot of Wu Mountain. The buildings on the both sides of street feature the architectural styles of Ming and Qing dynasties. There are some well-known restaurants and shops which display the cultures of food, tea and even Chinese medicines. Here visitors can eat very authentic Hangzhou snacks and local signature dishes. Some restaurants provide medicated food which is good for your health.
Address: Wu Mountain Square, Shangcheng District
How to get there: Bus No. 308, 301, 198, 87, 59, 13, 71, 208, 280, 404, 834, 808, 801 to Gulou Stop.
Da Dou Street
With length of half a mile (780 meters), Da Dou Street was opened in September of 2010. Here you can enjoy the very traditional residential houses with patios and courtyards. Here you can find many middle- and high-end restaurants, some of which cater for business banquets. You will feel relaxed as you wander along the Grand Canal or visit Xiangji Temple after dining.
Address: The east bank of Grand Canal from Daguan Bridge to Jiangzhang Bridge, Gongshu District
How to get there: Bus No.36, 76, 151, 251, 516, 816
Gao Yin Xiang Street
Beside He Fang Street and houses are many restaurants with tasty food or snacks. During dining time, the narrow streets are fully parked with hungry visitors. During dining time because you will likely have to wait for your meal for a long time.
Address: Not far away from He Fang Street
How to get there: Bus No.8, 216, 195, 60, 208 to Gao Yin Xiang East Entrance.
Baojiao Food Street
This street is located on the north side of West Lake and is an important entrance to the scenic area of West Lake. With its prime location, Baojiao Food Street houses many featured restaurants which serve many signature dishes.
Address: Near the cross road of Shu Guang Road and Ti Yu Chang Road
How to get there: Bus No. 807, 830, 66, 92, 228, 282, 841, 6, 11, 17, 25, 36, 221
Zhuangyuan Restaurant is a well-respected restaurant with more than 100 years of history. It provides Sichuan, Ningbo and Hangzhou-style cuisines. Signature Dish: Fish and Crab Spawn Noodle
Address: No.85, He Fang Street
How to get there: Bus No. 8/K8, 60/K60, K195, K216
Having been in business over 150 years, The Grandma’s is a restaurant located at the southern foot of Gu Hill. It is world famous for serving delicious cuisine and sum dim with beautiful scenery.
Address: No.30, Gushan Road, West Lake District
How to get there: Bus No.K850, K27, K7, Y2 to Duan Bridge.
Kui Yuan Restaurant
This establishment was built in the sixth year of the reign of the Emperor Tongzhi of Qing Dynasty. It is famous for its various kinds of noodles.
Address: No.154 of Jiefang Road or No.348 of Wenhui Road
How to get there: Bus No. K55, K195, K106, 801, 846, 38, K56, K105, 809, 49, 308, 814, 501, K515, 520, 335, K591, J14
A traditional restaurant providing delicious dim sum and Great Eight Cuisines in the charge of famous chefs.
Address: No. 71 to 73, Gao Yin Street
How to get there: Bus No. 8, 60, 846
Hangzhou is also a great getaway for fantastic shopping. Such local specialties as Hangzhou Silk, Dragon Well (Longjing) Tea, Hangzhou Embroidery, Hangzhou Chrysanthemum and Wangxingji Paper Fan are all what you have to take a look at during your Hangzhou travels. These specialties are available on Qinghefang Street, at the Silk Market, Wulin Street and Yan An Road.
What to Buy in Hangzhou
Hangzhou silk is world-renowned and known for its beautiful patterns, elegant colors, diverse stitching, fine craftsmanship and soft feel. Silk products like umbrellas, landscape paintings and Chinese hand-held folding fans are highly regarded by travelers domestic and abroad.
Best Places to Buy Hangzhou Silk Road
Hangzhou China Silk Town
Address: No.217, Xinhua Road
Telephone: 0571-85100192, 0571-85193476
How to get there: Bus No.30 to Xinhua Lukou
Hangzhou Longjing Tea
Tea is an important part of Hangzhou’s culture. Hangzhou is best known for its very own Longjing tea, a notable variety of green tea, which is famous among the locals.
Best Places to Buy Hangzhou Longjing Tea
Longjing Tea Village
Address: Located at the southwest of West Lake and enclosed by mountains
How to Get there: Bus No.27 to Longjing Stop
Hangzhou Chrysanthemum Tea
Hangzhou Chrysanthemum can be used as a kind of herb tea. Hangzhou chrysanthemum tea has the ability to improve eyesight and lower blood pressure. Hangzhou chrysanthemum is a very traditional medicinal plant in China. As one of great 4 chrysanthemums in China, Hangzhou chrysanthemum was used as a form of tribute in ancient China. It is as famous as Longjing tea in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou Chrysanthemum tea can be bought in the most tea shops and supermarkets in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou embroidery originated during the Han Dynasty (203 BCE – 220 CE) and prevailed in Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 CE). In ancient times, Hangzhou embroidery was divided into “Court” and “Folk” types. The court embroidery was made for the royal court. Folk embroidery featured patterns like bats, deer or cranes and was used to make bedcovers and folding screens.
Hangzhou embroidery is very elegant artwork with such vivid patterns as view of West Lake, peony, dragon, peacock, etc.
Where to Buy in Hangzhou
Southern Song Imperial Street
Southern Song Imperial Street is a two and a half mile long ancient street built during the Song Dynasty. Here you can not only buy local souvenirs and local products but also appreciate the classic-styled buildings.
Address: Stretching from North Gate of Huangcheng in south to Fengqi Road, across Chaotian Gate, Middle Zhongshan Road, North Zhongshan Road and Guanqiao Bridge.
How to get there: Bus No.25, 35, 187, 212, 404, K25, K327, K35, K850, Y8 to Yushan Stop.
Xinhua Featured Silk Street
Xinhua Featured Silk Street is located at the center of Hangzhou City. This street is in many ways a large market to buy high-quality silk in Hangzhou.
Address: Xinhua Road
How to get there: Bus No.8, 11, 28
Meijiawu Village is located to the west of West Lake. It is the place which produces Longjing tea and where visitors can come learn about Chinese teas. Here you can pick up best Longjing tea.
How to get there: Bus tourist line 4 or 5 to Meijiawu Stop
Here visitors can experience the culture of the late Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912 CE). Hefang Street reflects the historical features of Hangzhou. There are over 100 shops and some of them are quite old. Here you can buy local products and crafts such as Hangzhou fans, brocades, embroideries.
Address: No.1, Wushan Square
How to get there: Bus No. 8, K8, 35, K35, 38, 40, K40, K284, 814, 818, 59, K59, K402, 60, K60, 814, K814
Shopping Malls, Supermarket & Department Stores
Hangzhou Department Store
Address: No. 546, Jiefang Road
Address: No.701, Fuchun Road
Intime Department Store
Address: No.18, West Lake Culture Square, Xiacheng District
Hangzhou Mansion Department Store
Address: No.1 Wulin Square, Hangzhou
Address: No. 588, Gudunlu Road, West Lake District
Address: No.135, Yanan Road, Shangcheng District
Address: No.355, East Genshan Road, Jianggan District
Address: No.213, Daguan Road