Hangzhou, one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China, is a city that holds a rich historical and cultural significance. Located at the southern end of the Grand Canal, this vibrant destination offers a plethora of attractions and activities for travelers.
With its stunning landscapes, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a blend of old-world charm and modernity, Hangzhou is a must-visit city in China.
In this article, we will take you on a journey to explore the best things to do in Hangzhou, from cruising the famous West Lake to indulging in the local cuisine and experiencing the ancient Buddhist temples.
Table of Contents
- Cruise the West Lake
- Visit the Drum Tower
- Drink a Beer at Midtown Brewery
- Explore Lingyin Temple
- Buy Some Silk
- Learn All About Green Tea
- Marvel at Xixi Wetland
- Eat at Grandma’s
- Experience Impression West Lake Show
- Discover Qiandao Lake
Cruise the West Lake
One of the highlights of Hangzhou is the picturesque West Lake, which has inspired poets and artists for centuries.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by beautiful gardens, pagodas, and a scenic walking path. To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of West Lake, embark on a boat cruise.
Choose from a variety of boats, each offering a unique perspective of the lake. Whether you opt for a rowboat or a larger tour boat, you’ll be captivated by the mesmerizing views and the serene ambiance of the lake.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the blooming flowers, listen to enchanting music, and experience the vibrant atmosphere during the summer months.
Visit the Drum Tower
While not as grand as the drum towers in Beijing or Xi’an, the Drum Tower in Hangzhou is still worth a visit. In ancient China, drum towers served as timekeeping instruments, with the drums being struck on the hour.
A crenelated wall adorned with colorful lanterns and masks surrounds the tower. As you climb up the tower, you’ll encounter statues posing as soldiers guarding the entrance.
The drum tower area becomes a lively night market in the evening. You can enjoy authentic Chinese street food and browse through different stalls.
Drink a Beer at Midtown Brewery
For a unique experience in Hangzhou, head to Midtown Brewery, a gastropub located in the Midtown Shangri-La Hotel.
This establishment offers a wide selection of craft beers, live music, and delectable cuisine. Eric White, the head brewer, creates a wide variety of flavors by incorporating local inspiration into the craft beer movement.
Order a tasting paddle to sample their staple beers and discover your favorite. The menu offers a variety of dishes, from Western delicacies to Asian-inspired cuisine.
Whether you choose to sit near the brewing tanks for a quieter atmosphere or enjoy the live music outdoors, a visit to Midtown Brewery is a must for beer enthusiasts and food lovers alike.
Explore Lingyin Temple
Lingyin Temple, also called Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, is a vast and prosperous Buddhist temple in China. Originally built in 326 A.D., this temple has a rich history that dates back centuries.
As you enter the Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings, you’ll be greeted by statues of these celestial beings.
The temple is renowned for its intricate carvings in the grottoes, some of which date back to the 10th century.
One of the most fascinating features is the Feilai Feng grottoes, where limestone formations stand out amidst the surrounding mountains.
Don’t miss the main cave, where a crack in the ceiling allows a sliver of sunlight to illuminate the space, creating a heavenly atmosphere.
Buy Some Silk
Exploring the world of silk is an incomplete part of a visit to Hangzhou, renowned for its silk production. The mulberry trees that line the roads here attract silkworms, making Hangzhou an ideal location for silk production.
Hangzhou is a popular destination for Chinese brides seeking top-notch wedding dresses. The city is renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship and superior quality.
Take a tour of a silk factory to learn about the silk-making process, from the silkworms to the weaving and dyeing techniques.
You’ll gain insight into the history and cultural significance of silk in Chinese society. Consider special ordering a dress or outfit if you’re looking for a unique souvenir or a custom-made silk garment to take home.
Learn All About Green Tea
Hangzhou is famous for its green tea, particularly the renowned Longjing (dragon well) tea. The surrounding mountains are adorned with tea terraces, where workers carefully pick the leaves of the tea bushes.
Expert pickers select only the best, considering the youngest leaves as the most flavorful. Visiting a tea plantation will allow you to witness the entire tea-making process, from picking to drying and packaging.
You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the benefits of green tea, including its health properties and cultural significance. After visiting the plantation, enjoy a cup of fresh tea at a local tea house. Savor the flavors and admire the region’s beauty.
Marvel at Xixi Wetland
Escape the bustling city and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Xixi Wetland, the largest wetland in China. Located on the outskirts of Hangzhou, this natural oasis offers a glimpse into the region’s rich biodiversity.
Once home to fishermen, the wetland now serves as a popular tourist destination. Explore the wetland on a slow-paced fishing boat, where you can witness the beauty of the surrounding nature and observe the diverse wildlife.
The wetland is dotted with charming villages and traditional houses, providing a glimpse into the local culture and way of life. Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of Xixi Wetland and reconnect with nature.
Eat at Grandma’s
Grandma’s, a popular chain restaurant that originated in Hangzhou, is a must-visit for food lovers. Known for its authentic local dishes, Grandma’s offers a culinary journey through Hangzhou’s regional flavors.
This popular restaurant near West Lake is always busy, so expect a possible wait, especially at peak times. The generous portion sizes and reasonable prices have created a cult-like following for Grandma’s.
Try the signature dish, beggar’s chicken, a stuffed chicken baked for hours in non-toxic clay. Don’t miss this opportunity. Indulge in the diverse flavors of Hangzhou cuisine and savor the delicious creations at Grandma’s.
Experience Impression West Lake Show
End your visit to Hangzhou with a mesmerizing performance at the Impression West Lake Show.
Created by Zhang Yimou, the renowned director of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, this show takes place on the shores of West Lake.
The combination of lights, music, dance, and natural scenery creates a truly enchanting experience. Performers in vibrant traditional attire elegantly glide across the stage, showcasing captivating tales influenced by Hangzhou’s cultural legacy.
The show is a visual feast that will leave you in awe of the artistic talent and beauty of West Lake. Don’t miss this spectacular performance before bidding farewell to Hangzhou.
Discover Qiandao Lake
Don’t miss Qiandao Lake, also known as Thousand Island Lake, which is just a short distance from Hangzhou and is a breathtaking destination.
A flooding project created a reservoir that resulted in this lake’s clear waters and islands.
Take a boat tour to explore the islands and witness the beauty of the surrounding landscape. You can also engage in water sports such as kayaking or simply relax on the shores and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
Qiandao Lake offers a peaceful retreat from the city and a chance to appreciate the natural wonders of Hangzhou’s surroundings.
Hangzhou, with its historical significance, natural beauty, and cultural treasures, offers a wealth of experiences for travelers.
From cruising the West Lake to exploring ancient temples and indulging in local cuisine, this city has something for everyone.
Immerse yourself in the charm of Hangzhou, discover its hidden gems, and create lasting memories in one of China’s most captivating destinations.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Hangzhou will leave you enchanted and longing to return for more.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore this ancient capital and uncover the wonders it has to offer.
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