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Top Things to Do in Hangzhou

As one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China, Hangzhou is an important tourist city for history and culture. As the saying goes, "Up above there is Paradise, down below are Suzhou and Hangzhou." Hangzhou is also a beautiful city with numerous "heavenly" attractions.

1. Wander in the West Lake Wonderland

west lakeWest Lake

West Lake is the most famous attraction in Hangzhou. No matter whether the weather is cloudy, rainy, snowy, or sunny, no matter whether early in the morning or late in the night, West Lake always puts on a show of beauty. Walk, bike, or boataround West Lake to relax in an extensive example of China’s classic garden style. The landscape of West Lake is so iconic it’s printed on the one yuan note!

West Lake was selected as one of the "12 superb sunset spots around the world" by CNN. Walking around West Lake is free, so amble around al leisure to appreciate the beautiful scenery. The best places to photograph sunset views are Broken Bridge, Su Causeway, and Yanggong Causeway.

Read more on the beautiful scenery of West Lake.

2. Enjoy a Live Performance

There are three famous live shows in Hangzhou:

Impression West Lake: This top recommendation is an open-air night show right on the beautiful West Lake, with music, lights, and dance. It tells a beautiful story of two lovers. Enjoy a touching show and the beautiful night view.

TheRomanceof the Song Dynasty: This show is about Hangzhou’s history and culture, performed at Song Dynasty Town.

West Lake Night: This show is performed in Dongpo Theater, on the northwest side of West Lake. Locals comment that it is a sensational performance that they have never seen or heard the likes of before.

3. Visit the Quaint Water Towns

xitangBeautiful scenery of Xitang Water Town

Wuzhen Water Town is now well developed with many shops, bars, and antique-furnished accommodation. The historic scenery is very charming and every background is an ideal place to photograph. The best seasons are spring and autumn, and do avoid travel at noon in summer when it can be very hot.

Xitang Water Town is known for its bridges, ancient lanes, and covered waterside walks. The traditional lifestyle is well preserved, and you can stay there for a “night in the past”. You can visit comfortably in the heat of summer because the covered walkways will protect you from the strong sunlight.

4. Discover Old Hangzhou in Qinghefang Old Street

Qinghefang Old Street (清河坊) is a good place to experience the life of Old Hangzhou, because it is the epitome of historic Hangzhou. It is a place for shopping, eating, and sightseeing. You can see the well-preserved old buildings, explore the interesting stores, and buy some souvenirs. It might be very crowded in peak season. It’s just east of West Lake.

5. Learn About Tea, Silk, and Chinese Medicine

tea cultureLearn about Chinese tea culture.

In Hangzhou there are three big museums, which focus on tea culture, Chinese traditional medicine, and Chinese silk. They are good places to go for a greater understanding of three cornerstone Chinese products.

Hangzhou National Silk Museum is the biggest silk museum in the world. It shows the history of silk and the Silk Road. You can also learn about how silk was made.

Hangzhou National Tea Museum: If you are interested in Chinese tea culture, the National Tea Museum is a good place to learn more about it. The museum vividly depicts the evolution of Chinese tea and tea culture. It’s on the west shore of West Lake. 

Hangzhou Chinese Medicine Museum is built like an ancient architectural complex. You can not only see the precious books on Chinese medicine, but also appreciate the ancient architecture. It’s the only national-level Chinese medicine museum. It is east of West Lake on Qinghefang Street.

6. Explore Hangzhou’s Buddhist Heritage

lingyin templeLingyin Temple

Hangzhou has a long history of Buddhist influence. The three top Buddhist sites are:

Lingyin Temple is a large temple in a forest with a history of about 1,800 years. One of the largest and most famous Buddhist temples in China, Lingyin Temple houses a large collection of Buddhist treasures and relics which were significant in the development of Buddhism in the region.

Peak Flown From Afar reminded the Indian monk who named it of a hill back in India. Next to Lingyin Temple, it became a site for Buddhist worship from around 1,000 years ago. 470 Buddha images have been carved in its limestone face and caves.

Six Harmonies Pagoda has 13 stories, standing an impressive 60 meters (197 feet) tall, with beautiful paintings and patterns on the walls of each story. Standing by the Qiantang River, it was built to suppress the evil thought to cause the river’s tidal bore — the world’s largest tidal wave.

7. Relish Local Cuisine

Hangzhou is capital of Zhejiang Province, home to one of China’s Eight Regional Cuisines. Itis characterized by its light flavors, enjoyable presentation, and delicate cooking methods.

Read more about Hangzhou food and its special dishes.

Tour with China Highlights

If you are planning a Hangzhou tour, see our 2-Day Hangzhou West Lake & Dragon Well Tea for inspiration. Or contact us to tailor-make your Hangzhou tour.