08 Sep 2019
Described by Marco Polo as "the finest and most splendid city in the world,” Hangzhou is all dreamy waterways and scenic shrines. The capital of Zhejiang province, Hangzhou is considered one of China’s most important cites, thanks to its historic buildings, silk production and rare Longjing tea. With few skyscrapers and plenty of ancient sites; Hangzhou is the tranquil ying to frenetic Shanghai’s yang. Only 45 minutes by train from Shanghai, Hangzhou makes for a fabulous day trip. From serene Buddhist temples to an awe-inspiring lake, here, we point you to Hangzhou’s must-see highlights.
Spend the morning getting acquainted with ancient China at Hangzhou’s Lingyin Temple. In the northwest of the city, the sprawling Buddhist temple nestles at the foot of the Wuling Mountains. The curved roofs of its many pagodas rise elegantly into the mist that surrounds them. One of China’s most significant Buddhist temples, Lingyin has been destroyed and rebuilt an astonishing 16 times. Its five intricately decorated main halls are brimming with statues, carvings and tablets inscribed with words of the Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Kangxi. Afterwards, visit the nearby Feilai Feng; atmospheric grottos filled with over 300 Buddhist statues, painstakingly carved into the cliff face.
Stretching over Hangzhou’s imposing Grand Canal, Gongchen Bridge is a great place to find a tasty, authentically Chinese lunch. The area around this magnificent ancient stone arch bridge has undergone a recent regeneration, resulting in a vibrant district bursting with eateries and teahouses. This is the place to sample Longjing tea; indigenous to Hangzhou and handpicked twice a year, this rare green tea is one of the world’s most expensive. If you have time, indulge in the Chinese ritual of tea and savour the gentle, sweet flavour of Longjing.
Spend the afternoon meandering around the characterful market stalls and unusual shops of Qīnghéfāng Old Street. With its immaculately preserved buildings and quirky curios to be discovered, this pedestrianised corner of Hangzhou is the best place to pick up some beautiful souvenirs. Hangzhou’s silk manufacturing heritage earned it the nickname, Silk City, and along Qīnghéfāng Old Street you can shop for lustrous local silks. Pick up wonderful Chinese stationery and calligraphy items at Rongbaozhai Gallery and exquisite porcelain at Longquan Royal Kiln.
Hangzhou’s spellbinding West Lake is at its most mesmerising as the sun disappears beyond the horizon. Framed by verdant, pagoda-speckled hills, dotted with shrines and romantic bridges, West Lake’s intoxicatingly beautiful landscape spreads as far as the eye can see, over an astonishing 6km. A short walk from Qīnghéfāng Old Street, West Lake is the place to end your day in Hangzhou. Stroll over the weeping willow lined Su Causeway and pause to gaze over the still waters. At the southern end of the causeway, the Fish and Lotus Fronds at Flower Pond is alive with the swirls of goldfish darting through the water. Locals and tourists alike love to feed them. On the lake’s southern bank, the bronze Leifeng Pagoda radiates a golden glow as the sun makes its final journey beyond the horizon.
Discover Hangzhou while staying at the stylish Jumeirah Living Guangzhou.