Hangzhou along with Suzhou is known as “Heaven on Earth.” It is the capital city of Zhejiang Province that lies at the mouth of the Qiantang River. It is known as a beautiful garden city and one of the top 5 richest cities in the country — there are a lot of jobs in Hangzhou — and the locals live by a “no worry, no hurry” motto. The city itself, is known for being home to the happiest people in the country.
As a close neighbor to Shanghai, Hangzhou is a famous tourism city in China and the most populous city of the Zhejiang Province in east China. West Lake and Grand Canal are two symbols of the city and were enlisted into World Cultural Heritages. With a picturesque scenery and a rich history, it’s interesting to note that Hangzhou was once the capital of Southern Song Dynasty in history. Many poets and litterateurs have visited Hangzhou and left various historical relics.
Hangzhou was originally founded during the Qin Dynasty, but first rose to prominence during the Sui Dynasty. Despite the political instability of the period, Hangzhou has become one of the three pivotal centers of culture that defined southern China during the 10th century.
It was during the Southern Song Dynasty which Marco Polo visited the city and pronounced it as, “beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world.” Hangzhou has played an important role under the government of the People’s Republic of China.
During U.S. President Nixon’s breakthrough visit to the PRC in 1972, which eventually marked the opening of China to the West, the famous “Shanghai Communiqué” was signed at Hangzhou.
Tourists will feel the religious gravity in Hangzhou. You’ll find temples, churches and mosques belonging to Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Islam. Hangzhou features a lot of courtyards, gardens, Buddhist temples, towers, pavilions, more Buddhist temples, springs, gullies, rock caves and yes, even more Buddhist temples.
Ancient cliff inscriptions are abound here and there. Yet, present-day Hangzhou artfully blends its ancient past with the new, the young and the beautiful; sleek, hyper-modern architecture coexisting comfortably with cultural relics of the past. This the true symbol of ying and yang.
In Hangzhou, romance beckons anyone looking for love. It’s famous for it. Visitors are welcome to rent a bike and appreciate the beauty and the various paces in which your heart beats. Being the first city in China to introduce public city bikes, Hangzhou’s transportation has been highly improved. Local residents and visitors say that Hangzhou is most appreciated on two wheels rather than on four.
Not only is Hangzhou famous for being the tea capital of China, its fame is accredited to its strikingly beautiful West Lake. It is located in the western fringe and covers about four square miles. West Lake is surrounded by rolling wood hills as well. Su Causeway bisects the lake from north to south, the lake is dotted with elegant stone bridges and charming pavilions — a fairyland come true.
Lingyin Temple is believed to be established in 336 A.D. by a monk. It was destroyed on a number of occasions and the latest rebuilding was in the early part of the 20th century. It was then restored in 1956. Lingyin Temple is surrounded by Feilai Mountain where various Buddhism inscriptions exist.
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HANGZHOU THINGS TO DO
Six Harmony Pagoda
At 196.49 ft the Six Harmony Pagoda is the best place to catch a view the Qiantang River tide and the West Lake scenery. Located on Yuelun Hill near the Qiantang River, Hangzhou, it is one of the three renowned pagodas in Hangzhou, with the other two around the West Lake, Baochu Pagoda and Leifeng Pagoda.
Tiger Running Spring
Located in the Xihu Scenic area, named after an ancient legend, the Tiger Running Spring water was made like it was filtered for angels, crystal clear and thirst quenching. This is the most famous fountain in the West Lake and is ranked third in China, according to scientific research on the quality of the water of the spring.
Longjing Tea Plantation
Hangzhou is the tea capital of China and the Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea) is Hangzhou’s city card, so to speak. It is a famous specialty of Hangzhou and titled as the number one among top ten Chinese Famous Teas — a tea lover’s dream in a bag. You’ll want to come down and taste the best of the best.
Apart from the magnificent caves and grottos, the Feilai Peak has a variety of odd stone figures. You’ll find dragons, elephants and tiger shapes, which were naturally built and for you to explore. It stands 209 meters tall and according to legend, Indian monk Huili settled here 1,600 years ago and thought the peak flew from India to meet him — the formation was unique from the rest.
Thousand Island Lake
Tucked away 160 kilometers west of Hangzhou, in East China’s Zhejiang Province, Thousand Islets Lake is currently the largest man-made lake in China. It has been honored as one of the three best tourism areas in the mainland by Taiwanese travelers, besides the capital Beijing and the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River.
Lingyin is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the Yangtze River Delta Region and it’s praised for its beautiful setting and tranquil ambience. The Soul’s Retreat is arguably the largest and most visited Buddhist temple in the country, championing the largest statue of the Buddha Sakyamuni in lotus position.
The famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo (960-1127) compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, one of the four beauties in ancient China. Hangzhou West Lake was officially written into the list of World Cultural Heritage in China, and is the 41st site of World Heritage in China. If you visit Hangzhou, West Lake is a must-see.
Xixi National Park
Nestled in the western part of Hangzhou, a 5km skip and a hop away from West Lake, Xixi National Wetland Park is a rare urban wetland. It has gained widespread notoriety for being the first and only wetland park in China integrating urban life, farming and culture — an impressive feat and a sure bet.
As a world cultural heritage site of China, it is the earliest and longest artificial river in the world; starting from Beijing and finally to Hangzhou with a total distance of more than 1700 meters. It’s 10 times the size of the Suez Canal, and 22 times that of the Panama Canal.
Wushan Night Market
Wushan Night Market features a bouquet of color, movement, tradition, and fun. This is a great spot for those shopaholics who love buying gifts for their loved ones back home. You’ll find a lot of affordable clothes, souvenirs, plastic jewellery, knock offs, cosmetic bags and more.
Lanxi Zhuge Bagua Village
With a history of more than 660 years, Lanxi Zhuge Bagua is home to descendents of Zhuge Liang. Zhu Geliang is known as a remarkable politician, strategist, diplomatist, and militarist in the period of Three Kingdoms (184 A.D.-280 A.D.). It is he who invented Eight Diagrams and Kongming Lantern.
Hu Xueyan’s Former Residence
In 1872, Hu Xueyan spent 100,000 liang (1 liang=50 gramme) silver to build a house at a very prosperous site in Hangzhou – Hefang Street. It took three years to complete the whole construction of Huxueyan’s splendid residence. It’s often viewed as the greatest Qing Dynasty building that remains in the city.
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