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Hangzhou Travel Guide

Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province and Song Dynasty capital, is known as 'Heaven on Earth', with its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. It was described by Marco Polo as "the finest and most splendid city in the world".

Hangzhou is the political, economic, cultural, educational, transportation, and financial center of Zhejiang Province. The 2022 Asian Games will be held in Hangzhou.

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Where Hangzhou Is Located

Hangzhou is on the east coast of China, south of the Yangtze River Delta and about 170 kilometers (105 miles) south of Shanghai.

By bullet train, Hangzhou is about 1 hour from Shanghai and 1½ hours from Suzhou.

The Features of Hangzhou

  • Hangzhou is one of the Seven Ancient Capital Cities, with a history of about 2,500 years. Take a cruise to explore the World Heritage Site - the Grand Canal.
  • Hangzhou boasts enchanting natural scenery. West Lake, the symbol of Hangzhou, is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in China.
  • Hangzhou offers a variety of traditional cultures, such as tea, traditional Chinese medicine, and Chinese silk.
  • Hangzhou has a highly developed transportation network. It is almost the only city in China following 'pedestrian first' laws.
  • The 144-hour visa-free transit policy makes Hangzhou a more convenient destination.

Check our 4-Day Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Nanxun Water Town Culture Tour for inspiration.

Hangzhou Is a Leisurely City

Hangzhou is a special city. It is developing at a high speed, while the lifestyle in Hangzhou is leisurely. Compared to Shanghai, the pace of life there is slow.

CyclingPeople enjoy a leisurely life in Hangzhou.

When traveling in Hangzhou, you can have a stroll by West Lake, take a boat cruise, feed the goldfish in the lake, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Then have a delicious afternoon tea by the lake and chat with your guide, learning about the story and history of Hangzhou.

If you want to feel the classical charm of Hangzhou, you can pay a visit to some water towns. There are old buildings, boats, rivers, ancient bridges, and wells. Everything there is peaceful and beautiful.

If you want to know more about the tea culture of Hangzhou, you can go to Meijiawu Tea Plantation for an idyllic tour. Pick tea leaves with a local tea farmer, watch a Chinese tea ceremony, and learn about Chinese tea culture.

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Hangzhou Versus Shanghai

Shanghai is 1 hour away from Hangzhou. Hangzhou is a leisurely city with beautiful scenery while Shanghai is an international city with a faster pace of life. Both Hangzhou and Shanghai have convenient transportation.

If your itinerary is flexible, Hangzhou is worth a one-day tour to appreciate its beautiful scenery, wander around West Lake, and visit a Longjing tea plantation. Shanghai is a modern city in which you can see many skyscrapers and historical buildings.

The most popular and convenient way to get from Hangzhou to Shanghai is traveling by bullet train. Enjoy a relaxing day in Hangzhou, take a bullet train to Shanghai, and explore the modern city there.

Also see Hangzhou or Suzhou: Which Is Best for You to See?

5 Highlights of Hangzhou

Hangzhou is a perfect combination of history and modernity, nature and culture. When you visit Hangzhou, don't miss the following highlights.

West Lake Sunset West Lake sunset

1.West Lake - the Legend of Hangzhou

West Lake is a symbol of Hangzhou. It is famous for its stunning scenery and various historical sites. It was selected as one of the "12 superb sunset spots around the world" by CNN.

West Lake is gorgeous all year round. The spring flowers, the summer lotuses, the autumn moon, and the winter snow all make it very charming.

2. Water Towns Near Hangzhou

Wuzhen and Nanxun are the two most popular water towns near Hangzhou.

Wuzhen is one of the top six water towns in China. Taking a gondola along the ancient canal should not be missed and the nighttime scenery in Wuzhen is impressive.

Wuzhen Water TownWuzhen Water Town

Nanxun is not as famous as Wuzhen. It is thanks to this that Nanxun is the most original and picturesque town, filled with a tranquil ambiance.

See The Top 10 Water Towns Near Shanghai.

3. The Grand Canal - World Heritage Site

The Grand Canal was dug out in 486 BC and has a history of more than 2,500 years. It runs from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south, stretching for 1,747 kilometers.

It played a great role in the economic and cultural development, and with exchanges between the north and south of China. It was a great project created by the ancient Chinese and is now one of the symbols of Chinese culture.

4. Dragon Well Tea

Hangzhou's unique Dragon Well tea (Longjing Tea) plays an important role among the varieties of Chinese green tea. It is produced mostly by hand, and is honored as China's Famous Tea due to its high quality.

5. Hangzhou Silk

Hangzhou is regarded as the cradle of the Chinese silk culture and production. With a history of over 2,500 years, Hangzhou silk is renowned for its gentle texture, gorgeous colors, and wide varieties.

The Best Times to Visit Hangzhou

Hangzhou Tea Garden A tea plantation in Hangzhou

The best times to visit Hangzhou are in spring (March–May) and fall (September–November). In spring, West Lake is quite beautiful with peach blossoms and weeping willow catkins. It is very hot in summer and cold in winter.

Hangzhou is always crowded with Chinese people at the weekends and Chinese public holidays, such as Labor Day (May 1st to 7th) and National Day (October 1st to 7th). If you plan to travel to Hangzhou during these times, you'd better book your tickets and hotels in advance. Let us help you avoid the crowds.

Where to Stay

There is a vast range of accommodation options in Hangzhou. If you want to stay near to attractions and benefit from convenient transportation, we recommend these hotels near West Lake:

  • 5-star: Sofitel Westlake Hangzhou; Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale Hangzhou
  • 4-star: Hangzhou Wuyang Hotel; Hangzhou Merchant Marco Hotel
  • 3-star: Enjoyor Hotel

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Convenient Transportation Network

Hangzhou is easily accessible by high-speed trains and flights from main cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Xi'an, Chengdu, and Hong Kong.

From Hangzhou, the direct bus is the most convenient way to get to nearby water towns. A private tour with a private vehicle is the best hassle-free option to avoid the traffic congestion and help you maximize your time.

See more on Hangzhou transportation.


Fried Shrimps With Longjing TeaThe most populat Hangzhou dish – Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea

Hangzhou dishes are known for having a sweet and subtle flavor. Dongpo pork, Beggar's chicken, fried shrimps with Longjing tea, and West Lake fish are among the most popular dishes.

There are vegetarian, Muslim, and Western restaurants in Hangzhou. Just let your guide know your dietary preferences and requirements, and he/she will give you recommendations accordingly.

Hangzhou Is the Home of Alibaba

Alibaba was founded in 1999 in Hangzhou. In these 20 years, Hangzhou has witnessed the development of Alibaba. Meanwhile, Alibaba has brought great changes to Hangzhou and even to the rest of China. Hangzhou takes the lead in informatization, data, and mobility. Mobile payment can cover almost all aspects of life in Hangzhou.

Enjoy a Relaxing Hangzhou Tour with Us

Hangzhou Have a relaxing tour with us.

What we will create for you is an in-depth and comfortable tour. Our well-planned Hangzhou tours cover the highlights of Hangzhou. You will enjoy the beauty of Hangzhou and understand the city in a leisurely way.

If you are planning a Hangzhou tour, please see our recommended tours below for inspiration:

All itineraries can be adjusted according to your requirements. Make an inquiry and customize your tour here..

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