Top 5 Attractions To See During Your Hangzhou Tour
- On June 12, 2019
- By Sarah Bauder
- In General
With its stunning, serene natural beauty, it is unsurprising that Hangzhou is one of the most popular destinations in China. As the capital of Zhejiang Province, it is one of the most prosperous cities in the country. With its incredible scenery, cultural importance, and a rich history that spans over two thousand years, Hangzhou is a destination that never disappoints. Here are the top 5 attractions to see during your Hangzhou tour.
Any visit to the beautiful Hangzhou warrants a stop at the stunning West Lake. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, West Lake is by far the most popular attraction in the city. Covering nearly 7 square kilometers and divided into five distinct sections, this sensational park in the heart of Hangzhou has numerous artificial islands, gardens, temples, and pagodas to captivate travelers.
West Lake has a history that spans nearly 2000 years. It was during the Song Dynasty (960 AD to 1279 AD) that the park was developed into its current form. Three causeways were constructed that divide West Lake. During the period referred to as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, Hangzhou became the capital city and an epicenter for local and foreign trade.
Some of the renowned must-see sites of West Lake include the Three Pools Mirroring The Moon, The Flower Pond, the cycling trails, and a boat cruise to enjoy the best views of the lake itself. For centuries, the sheer beauty of West Lake has inspired poets, artists, and garden design throughout Asia.
Another must-see attraction to enjoy on your tour of Hangzhou, is the spectacular Lingyin Temple. Dedicated to the Chan Sect of Buddhism, Lingyin Temple is one of the oldest and most popular Buddhist temples located in China. The temple, which also serves as a monastery, has a lengthy history spanning over 1600 years. Founded in 328 AD, Lingyin Temple increased in prominence and flourished to become one of the most important Chan sect temples in the region.
Yet, despite its fame and importance, Lingyin Temple sustained damage and destruction and has been rebuilt sixteen times throughout its rich history. The monastery complex as its present form is the result of restorations that occurred during the late Qing dynasty (1644 to 1911). Today, the entirety of the Lingyin Temple complex has incredible historical and cultural significance for China. Not only are some of the existing structures well over a thousand years old, but some of the artifacts and statues found within its walls are wholly unique to the temple. Being one of the most popular attractions in all Hangzhou, the monastery complex receives thousands of visitors and pilgrims each day. Lingyin Temple is definitely an incredible attraction that cannot be missed on any Hangzhou tour.
Any visit to the stunning city of Hangzhou, must include the magical Feilai Peak. Situated next to Lingyin Temple, visitors have gravitated to the majesty of Feilai Peak for two thousand years. Standing 700 ft above sea level, the mountain is world-renowned for nearly 500 Buddhist statues and reliefs that can be found in its numerous grottoes and caves.
Also known as ‘Peak Flown from Afar”, there are several legends surrounding the name of the peak. One of the most popular, states that a monk from India by the name of Huili who founded the nearby Lingyin Temple arrived in the alley where the mountain is located. He was surprised by how dissimilar it was to all the other surrounding mountains. Therefore, Huili concluded that Feilai Peak must have flown from his homeland (what for its stark resemblance to the topography of India) to Hangzhou, symbolizing the omnipotence of Buddhism. As a result, Feilai Peak is often referred to as “Peak Flown From Afar”.
During the 10th century AD, the first statues and reliefs were carved into the caves of Feilai Peak. The three oldest Buddhist statutes found at the site all date from 951 CE, during the Five Dynasties period (907 CE to 960 CE). The largest of all the Buddhist statues is known as “The Laughing Buddha’ (carved during the Southern Song dynasty) and can be found on the northern slope of the mountain. In addition to the exceptionally carved Buddhist statues, a considerable number of other statues can be found in the caves and grottoes of Feilai Peak. Historians and researchers have flocked to the mountain since the early 1990s to study the carvings.
Xixi National Park
Located in the western section of exquisite Hangzhou, is the wetland paradise known as Xixi National Park. Providing stunning natural beauty and serenity, Xixi National Park is China’s first national wetland park. Comprising 2,800 acres, this urban oasis is considered one of the best must-see attractions when touring Hangzhou.
The region where Xixi National Park is located has a rich history that spans over 1,800 years. The original inhabitants of the wetland were fisherman and farmers. During the Song Dynasty (960 to 1279 CE), Hangzhou grew in importance. Emperor Gaozong (1107 to 1187 CE) was drawn to the stunning natural beauty of the area, and as thus, the region surrounding the wetland became developed.
Unfortunately, by the early 20th century, the Xixi wetland began to decline due to encroachment from industrial enterprise and increased development in the area. Yet, the Hangzhou government recognized both the cultural and ecological importance of the site, and in 2008, Xixi National Park was opened to the public.
Xixi National Park has six rivers that flow through it, with several tributaries which all create a unique, serene landscape. The park itself is divided into three waterways, with numerous scenic spots and attractions dotted throughout this wonderful natural wetland.
The Grand Canal
A must-see attraction to see when on a tour of the phenomenal city that is Hangzhou, is none other than the Grand Canal. An extraordinary example of human ingenuity, the Grand Canal was constructed over two thousand years ago. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, it has the distinction of being the longest and oldest canal or artificial river in the world.
Considered to be one of the planet’s greatest construction projects, it stretches over 1,100 miles from Beijing to Hangzhou, connecting both the Yangtze and Yellow River. Construction on the canal commenced in 486 BCE, during the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BCE to 481 BCE). Today, the Grand Canal is an iconic fixture of Hangzhou. Meandering through the city, it has become an import part of daily life in the city as it leads to each of the most important sites.
Locals and visitors alike frequent the numerous beautiful parks and walkways that dot the Grand Canal’s edges. Simply walking along the canal is perhaps the best way to relish this exceptional attraction. The cultural epicenter of the canal is West Lake Cultural Center, which provides anything and everything a visitor to Hangzhou could ask for – museums, restaurants, and stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Hangzhou is a fantastic tourist destination with so much to experience and enjoy. It’s historical and cultural importance makes it a first-class city in China, coupled with unparalleled natural beauty at every turn.
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