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Hangzhou is one of the most important tourist cities in China. It attracts a large number of visitors with its enchanting natural scenery and rich cultural heritage. Here are 10 important facts you should know before your trip to Hangzhou.
Hangzhou is one of China's seven ancient capitals and has been designated by the government as a "Historic and Cultural City".
Hangzhou's history can be traced back over 2,200 years to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC). It flourished after being linked with the Grand Canal, which starts in Beijing and ends in Hangzhou.
It was originally the capital of the Wuyue Kingdom from 907 to 978 during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Then it became the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty in 1132.
Marco Polo, a famous European traveler and explorer from Venice, visited Hangzhou in the late 13th century. He was overwhelmed by the city and spent one fifteenth of his travels describing the spectacular city of Hangzhou.
He described it as "the city of heaven" and "the finest and most splendid city in the world".
West Lake, the symbol of Hangzhou, is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in China. It was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2011. It is a perfect combination of numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens, and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.
With a length of more than 2,000 kilometers, the Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world, running from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south. It was added to the World Heritage List in 2014. You should not miss a boat trip along the canal to experience its glorious history.
Hangzhou is the birthplace of Dragon Well (Longjing) tea, which is the most famous green tea in China and ranked as first among China's top 10 teas.
Hangzhou, known as the "Capital of Tea in China", has been one of the famous tea production bases in China since ancient times. The tea culture is an important part of Hangzhou.
Hangzhou tea plantations are mainly comprised of Longjing Tea Plantation and Meijiawu Tea Plantation. It is a memorable experience to step into a tea plantation to pick tea leaves and learn the art of tea-making. If you are a tea fan, you are welcome to join our 1-Day Dragon Well Tea Culture Tour.
Hangzhou is the historic center of China's silk production. It has always been regarded as the "Silk City". You'll see silk clothing and trinkets everywhere in Hangzhou. Silk produced in Hangzhou is soft, luxurious, and decorative. It is a great souvenir you can take home with you once you have traveled to Hangzhou.
Speaking of water towns, Zhouzhuang, Tongli, and Zhujiajiao are frequently mentioned. But if you are looking for a less commercial and less crowded water town, Nanxun can be a great option.
Nanxun Water Town is the most original and picturesque town, filled with a tranquil ambiance. Walking alongside the canals in the old town, you will feel like you are walking into China’s past.
Wuzhen is a more famous water town. It is also worth a visit for its charm and elegance, but get ready for its commercial atmosphere, restored buildings, and the crowds.
Hangzhou has the largest bike sharing system in the world. There are over 3,000 bike rental stations and over 70,000 bicycles around the city. Visitors can rent a bicycle and enjoy one-hour’s free bicycling.
West Lake is considered to be one of the best biking routes in China. It is enjoyable to wind around the lakeside causeway and enjoy plenty of idyllic scenery around the lake.
The best times to visit Hangzhou are in spring (March–May) and fall (September–November), when it is comfortable to enjoy Hangzhou’s outdoor attractions of lakes, tea plantations, and water towns.
You’d better avoid weekends and Chinese public holidays, such as Labor Day (May 1 to 7) and National Day (October 1 to 7), when Hangzhou is always crowded with Chinese people.
Hangzhou is about 170 kilometers (105 miles) away from Shanghai. These two cities are well-connected by bullet trains. It can take as little as 45 minutes to travel from Shanghai. It is very convenient to take an extension tour to Hangzhou from Shanghai.
From January 30th, 2016, citizens from 51 countries can visit Hangzhou and the whole region of Zhejiang Province, Jiangsu Province, and Shanghai, and stay for up to 144 hours without applying for a visa. See detailed information about the 144-hour visa-free transit policy.
Do you want to tour Hangzhou with a local expert? Our professional guide will lead you to avoid the crowds, tell you the best places to take photographs, and explore the real Hangzhou.
Our most popular Hangzhou tours, for inspiration: