During our travels around China last year, we decided to spend a day in Hangzhou, located about 30 minutes with the bullettrain from Shanghai. This was a decision that we did not regret. Although it was very rainy and humid during August, it still stands out as one of my favorite cities in China. Although it has a population of 2,5 million people, it still has a very calm feel to it, with its West Lake, beautiful scenery, and numerous temples to explore. Here’s a little overview of the things that you cannot miss when visiting Hangzhou.
West Lake is without doubt the main attraction of Hangzhou, and with good reason. Surrounded by pagoda-topped hills, the lake is definitely the definition of classical Chinese beauty. Although not being that authentic, there are still a bunch of really great activities to do here, from strolling or biking along the lake, or taking a boatride, either the major cruises from No 1 Park or my favorite, the paddle boats from Bái Causeway. Don’t forget to bring your mosquito repellant!
Another must do in Hangzhou is to visit one of the many pagodas, gardens, and temples along the lake. Our favorite was Léifeng Pagoda, which is located on the South side of the lake. From the top of the pagoda you have beautiful views of the lake. I would recommend going here just before the sun sets to see the lights change.
The most famous Buddhist temple in Hangzhou is the Língyin temple, which dates back to year 326, but has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since then. Língyin temple is a collection of several temples housing many different Buddhas, from the major statues of Milefo and Siddhartha Gautama, to the Great Hall which houses 150 small figures in different poses.
Now, although the temples are beautiful and definitely worth a visit, my favorite part of this attraction is the 470 Buddhist carvings in the outlying hills. The most popular is the laughing Maitreya Buddha in the bottom right of the photo below, and can be found along the path towards the temple. But if you’re up for a hike, you can find carvings deep into the grottoes which date back to the 10th to 14th century, and definitely worth checking out.
China National Tea Musem
One thing that I have to return to Hangzhou to experience is the China National Tea Museum south of West Lake. This museum is surrounded by hills full of tea bushes and tea-producing villages. You can even taste the famous lóngjing green tea at the Dragon Well Tea Village near the plantation.
What is your favorite attraction in Hangzhou?