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Hangzhou's beautiful scenery is "paradise on earth", and the setting of romantic legends (The Butterfly Lovers and Legend of the White Snake). For travelers who have never been to this beautiful place, we provide this guidance on planning a Hangzhou tour.
Spring is the best season to visit Hangzhou. With the flowers blooming, spring makes Hangzhou more beautiful. It's a good season to walk along West Lake and go boating in nearby water towns to enjoy the spring scenery. Prepare well for rainy weather, and avoid the May 1–3 holiday.
The average high is over 30°C (86°F) in Hangzhou's summer, and the school summer holidays are the most crowded part of the peak season. It's not a good time to travel. But the lotuses blossom in West Lake is blooming, making West Lake more attractive.
Fall offers cooler weather. The biggest highlights of autumn are the most spectacular Qiantang River tidal waves, and classic spots to enjoy moonlit evenings around Mid-Autumn Festival. Avoid the October 1–7 holiday.
Winter's top benefit is that it's quietest in Hangzhou. Plum blossoms are in their most beautiful season. But winter in Hangzhou is very cold. The temperature can drop below zero. Avoid the Chinese New Year travel rush.
West Lake is the most famous attraction of Hangzhou and is considered one of the most beautiful sights in China. It's a large man-made lake, with ten famous sites to appreciate different scenery at different times, such as Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Su Causeway, Broken Bridge, and Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard.
Lingyin Temple is just 3 km (2 mi) west of West Lake. ‘Soul's Retreat' Temple is a very peaceful place, and one of the most important Buddhist temples in China. Lingyin Temple has plenty of Buddhist relics and nearby Peak Flown From Afar has Buddhist grottoes and rock carvings. These are great cultural treasures.
Impression West Lake is a live show at night on West Lake. Hundreds of dancers perform on lifting platforms with music and light. This 1-hour show tells a beautiful but sad story with five acts. Enjoy the show, and appreciate the night view of West Lake.
Six Harmonies Pagoda stands by the Qiantang River. It has 13 stories and is about 60 meters (197 feet) tall. It's said that this pagoda was built to suppress the evil thought to cause the river's tidal bore, best seen from Haining.
Qinghefang Old Street is just 10 minutes' walk east of West Lake. It used to be the most prosperous street of Hangzhou in ancient times. You can taste local food in the restaurants, and buy souvenirs and Chinese tea. There is a Chinese medicine museum called Huqingyu Pharmacy Hall.
Meijiawu Tea Plantation is renowned as one of the most important producers of Longjing tea (Dragon Well tea, one of the most famous teas in China). The tea plantation covers an area of more than 800 square kilometers (500 square miles). You can learn how to pick tea leaves. You can see the process of creating Longjing tea and experience Chinese tea culture.
Day 1: Hangzhou Arrival, Grand Canal History Experience
First we'll visit the China Knives, Scissors and Swords Museum. This is beside the Grand Canal, and helps gain a picture of China's ancient craftsmanship in the manufacture of knives, scissors and swords.
Paint your own oiled-paper umbrella at the Workmanship Demonstration Pavilion, where the oiled-paper craftsman will teach you.
Take the Junk Cruise on the Jinghang (Beijing- Hangzhou) Grand Canal. Imagine the scene on the canal banks in times past, and get a feeling for recent developments in the city.
In the end, relax at the Dadou Road Historic Block.
Day 2: Meijiawu Tea Plantation, West Lake, Hangzhou Departure
The second day, Visit Meijiawu Tea Plantatipn. Enjoy fresh air and beautiful natural scenery and experience tea planting, picking, manufacture, and tasting.
Take a bird’s-eye view over Hangzhou and West Lake at the Chenghuang Pavilion, and enjoy the Southern Song Dynasty Snacks Banquet.
In the afternoon, visit Lingyin Temple, one of the most important and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, boasting plenty of pagodas and Buddhist grottoes. Then have a relaxing visit to West Lake, one of the major landmarks of Hangzhou. Stroll alongside the lake, and take a cruise to Fairy Island.
After the tour we will escort you to the train station/airport for your departure. Please make sure that your train/flight departs after 18:00.
Customizing Your Tour
Hangzhou has flights to major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guangzhou. And it has bullet trains which take about 1 hour to Shanghai/Suzhou. Feel free to ask us for transportation advice. Also, you can extend it a day to experience the beautiful water towns near Hangzhou.
See our tried and tested 2-Day Hangzhou Highlights & Grand Canal Heritage Tour for further inspiration.
If you want to experience Chinese water town life, put Nanxun Water Town in your itinerary. It requires one day.
Nanxun Water Town is about 1 hour's drive from Hangzhou. It is not as famous as Wuzheng and Xitang. It is thanks to this, that Nanxun is the most original and picturesque town, filled with tranquil ambiance.
The town's highlights are numerous bridges, ancient lanes, and ancient buildings combining traditional Chinese and Western architecture.
There are two main areas to stay in Hangzhou:
Most hotels at the lakeside are expensive 5-star hotels. You can appreciate the fantastic West Lake view from the comfort of your hotel.
Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake ranks 2 on Trip Advisor for Hangzhou hotels. It's at the northwest side of West Lake near Su Causeway.
Wulin Square is about 3 kilometers northeast of West Lake. You can find many upscale boutique stores, big brand stores, and discount stores there. Tour buses depart from Wulin Square and the airport bus stops there.
The East Hotel Hangzhou ranks 3 for Hangzhou on Trip Advisor. It's very convenient for shopping malls and West Lake. It's about 15 minutes to Su Causeway by taxi. Many public buses go to other attractions.
Suzhou/Shanghai–Hangzhou: around 1 hour and 50 yuan (8 USD). The bullet train makes it possible to travel to Hangzhou from Suzhou/Shanghai and come back in one day. The journey is around 2½ hours by bus for about 70 yuan (11.5 USD).
Beijing–Hangzhou: about 5½ hours
Guangzhou–Hangzhou: around 7 hours
There are many bullet trains from the main cities to Hangzhou. Our China Train Ticket Service has all you need to plan and book a trip.
From Hangzhou Station you can take bus Y2, K7, 11, or 151 to West Lake. Hangzhou East Station is less convenient.
Major tourist cities Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Guangzhou are about 2 hours away.
Hangzhou (Xiaoshan) Airport is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Hangzhou city. It takes about 50 minutes from the airport to city center by taxi.
The airport bus costs 20 yuan (3.5 USD). It stops at Hangzhou Station (杭州城站), Hangzhou Grand Metro Park Hotel (杭州维景国际大酒店), and Wulinmen Civil Aviation Ticket Office (武林门民航售票处). Airport buses depart regularly:
For West Lake get off at Hangzhou Station and take bus Y2, K7, 11, or 151.
See our lowdown to transport in and around Hangzhou.
Based on years of experience and customer feedback, we have developed many Hangzhou tours. Here are some popular tours for inspiration: