The dreamlike landscape of Hangzhou’s most popular attractions seem to have been plucked right out of classical Chinese poetry. Experience China’s rich cultural heritage and wonderful natural beauty at these 8 enchanting places in Hangzhou.
1. WEST LAKE
Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, this star attraction of Hangzhou is a must-visit for every tourist. Rent a bicycle or take a scenic stroll along this freshwater lake, and stop by the many pagodas and pavilions along the way for a lovely picnic or a tranquil moment by the water. At night, watch Zhang Yimou’s Impression West Lake, a stunning open-air drama and dance performance complete with harmonious music and mesmerising light show.
2. LIUHE PAGODA
Perched atop Yuelun Mountain overlooking the serene Qiantang River, this pagoda with a height of 60 metres is one of Hangzhou’s iconic cultural buildings. Originally built in the year 970 AD, it was destroyed during the war in 1121 but later reconstructed in 1165. Octagonal in shape, the insides are adorned with carvings, grottoes, and poetry.
3. LONGJING TEA FIELDS
Have a leisurely walk around the charming Longjing Village, sample fresh hot teas from little tea shops, visit the China National Tea Museum, and soak in the picturesque vistas of the evergreen tea plantations. The quality of the soil, the natural irrigation from the wells and springs, and an overall good feng shui made the tea here one of the best in the world, so much so that it was given the title of Gong Cha, which means Imperial Tea during the Qing Dynasty.
4. TANGQI ANCIENT TOWN
This wonderful water town has a history that ran well over a thousand years, but is still bustling with life, though at a different pace than in Hangzhou city centre. As you take in the pretty sights of ancient houses along the waterways, don’t forget to try some delicious snacks being sold by the street peddlers. A must-visit here is the Guangji Bridge (also known as Tongji Bridge of Bitian Bridge), a picturesque stone arch bridge with seven holes for boats passing through.
5. LINGYIN TEMPLE
Sitting at the foot of Mount Lingyin, the temple is considered as one of ten most important Zen Buddhism temples in China. The name translates to Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, a befitting moniker for a place beautifully surrounded by lush greeneries. With a history of over 1,680 years, this oldest temple in Hangzhou attracts a significant number of Buddhists every day.
6. QINGHEFANG OLD STREET
For a closer look at China’s yesteryears, take a stroll along the car-free Qinghefang Old Street, where the city’s high society used to converge to discuss politics, culture, and commerce during the Southern Song Dynasty. Nowadays, the area has been redeveloped as a centre for tourism, entertainment, and shopping, with old and new shops offering local handicrafts, traditional Chinese medicine, and authentic Hangzhou cuisine.
7. XIXI NATIONAL WETLAND PARK
Six waterways and countless ponds, lakes, and swamps make up 70 percent of the 1,550-hectare park, just perfect for a day of sightseeing. The whole area is more than 4,000 years old, but was only gazetted into a national park in 2005, featuring various attractions including the Xixi Water Pavilion, Xixi Plum Villa, and Xixi Thatched Cottage. Best to get on a boat tour to enjoy all the sights.
8. HANGZHOU BOTANICAL GARDEN
With koi ponds, stone bridges, and lotus flowers dotting the 230-hectare garden, a visit here will surely melt all the worries away. Some notable spots include Lingfeng Hill which has more than 5,000 plum trees, a breathtaking sight especially during spring when they are in full bloom. Meanwhile Bamboo Garden offers more than 150 varieties of bamboo including the amazing damaozhu bamboo which can grow to 1m tall overnight, and up to three-storeys high in a month!
GETTING THERE: AirAsia X flies to Hangzhou from Kuala Lumpur. For lowest fares and flight info, visit airasia.com.