Shanghai is a modern metropolis in the Yangtze River Delta with skyscrapers and busy streets as well as classic architectures and traditional gardens. About 170 kilometers away, Hangzhou is another attractive city with romantic West Lake scenery and chances to experience the Chinese tea culture.
Departing from Shanghai, you can visit Hangzhou with a modest budget and amount of time. Read on for information about Hangzhou, the top things to do, and a Shanghai to Hangzhou day trip plan.
Information about Hangzhou
Visa Requirement: 144-Hour Visa-Free Policy
You may be able to enjoy a visa-free policy of up to 6 days for your stay in Shanghai and Hangzhou. Check the 144-hour visa-free policy to check the visa-free countries and detailed conditions.
Where Hangzhou Is Located
Hangzhou is located in China's Yangtze River Delta, about 170 kilometers southwest of Shanghai.
Check the maps of Hangzhou.
Travel from Shanghai to Hangzhou by Train
Shanghai and Hangzhou are connected by bullet (high-speed) trains. There are about 100 trains running from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Hangzhou East Railway Station. The journey takes about 1 hour.
As the transportation between the two cities is fast and convenient, it is possible to leave Shanghai in the morning and return in the evening.
Read more about Shanghai to Hangzhou transportation.
Find more information and book the ticket of Shanghai to Hangzhou trains.
Getting Around Hangzhou
Hangzhou is now served by Hangzhou Metro. Taking Metro Line 1 from Hangzhou East Railway Station to the West Lake scenic area only takes 15 minutes and costs 6 yuan (about 1 USD).
Hangzhou buses are more convenient for traveling short distances. However, a lack of English services could be a challenge.
If you are traveling with us, you will travel in a private vehicle with an English-speaking guide and will be driven directly to the attractions. You don't need to be concerned with any problems relating to the language barrier.
Accommodation: Shanghai or Hangzhou
It is more convenient for overseas travelers to arrive at and leave from Shanghai than Hangzhou because Shanghai's airports accommodate more international airlines. If you need to catch a flight that departs from Shanghai the next morning, you are advised to return to Shanghai after your Hangzhou trip.
However, if you are not traveling in a hurry, you are highly recommended to stay in Hangzhou for one night. There are many things to do at night, such as watching live shows, cruising along the ancient canal, or admiring the night view. Hangzhou has good hotels for you to choose from.
The Top Things to Do in Hangzhou
Enjoy a Relaxing Boat Ride on West Lake
West Lake is one of the major landmarks of Hangzhou, featuring idyllic lake scenery and with a perfect fusion of nature and man-made structures. The best ways to admire the romantic scenery are to walk alongside the lake and enjoy a relaxing boat ride on the lake.
See Cultural Relics in Lingyin Temple
Lingyin Temple is an ancient temple with a history of over 1,700 years. The temple is not far from West Lake and it is a good place to experience the Chinese Buddhist culture and to admire ancient Buddhist treasures and relics.
Watch Live Performances on West Lake
If you choose to stay in Hangzhou for one night, you have the chance to watch some night shows. The most recommended one is the open-air live show on West Lake called Impression West Lake. The shows called The Romance of the Song Dynasty and West Lake Night are also good options.
Sample Hangzhou Cuisine
Hangzhou cuisine is not only tasty but historical, as some dishes and snacks originated over 800 years ago. Hangzhou chefs are skilled at creating the best dishes using common ingredients.
Some of the most famous dishes are fried shrimps with Longjing tea, sweet and sour West Lake fish, and roast chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and mud.
Read about more things to do in Hangzhou.
Shanghai to Hangzhou Day Trip Plan
In one day, you can enjoy the beautiful landscape scenery and cultural temples of Hangzhou. Here is a day trip plan from Shanghai to Hangzhou:
Morning: Train Ride from Shanghai to Hangzhou, West Lake Cruise
In the morning, take a train from Shanghai to Hangzhou. From Hangzhou East Railway Station, take Metro Line 1 to Fengqi Road Station and you will arrive at the West Lake scenic area.
You can enjoy a cruise on West Lake. This is a relaxing trip for you to admire the lake's scenery and take some photos. Alternatively, you can walk alongside the lake to see the ancient pavilions, pagodas, and bridges.
Noon: Chenghuang Pavilion
Take the bus or let us drive you to Chenghuang Pavilion. There, you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of Hangzhou and West Lake, and you can enjoy numerous snacks as you taste some dishes that originated during the Southern Song Dynasty (about 800 years ago).
Afternoon: Lingyin Temple, Train Ride Back to Shanghai
After having the meal and a rest, you will visit Lingyin Temple. You can see the ancient Buddhist halls, admire the ancient objects and relics, or make a wish for you and your family.
After the visit, go back to the railway station and take a train to Shanghai.
Option for Tea Lovers
Hangzhou is believed to be where the best Dragon Well tea originated from, and it's a good place to experience the Chinese tea culture. If you like Chinese tea, we can arrange a half-day tea culture experience at Meijiawu Tea Plantation.
In this experience, you can learn about and try the whole process of making tea, from picking tea leaves to watching a tea ceremony conducted by a local specialist. Follow her example of how to drink tea in the correct way.
Enjoy a Hangzhou Tour with Us
A good choice when visiting Hangzhou is to enjoy a hassle-free private tour with us. We will help you to manage all the booking and ticketing issues. Moreover, besides the most famous attractions, we can help you to plan some authentic cultural experiences, such as making tea.
Our One-Day Dragon Well Tea Culture and West Lake Tour includes this experience - check out the itinerary for more information.