Hangzhou is a must-visit for those interested in Chinese history and culture, boasting an abundance of attractions as one of China’s Seven Ancient Capitals.
One of the world’s most beloved attractions, West Lake (Xi Hu) has long been an inspiration to poets and painters alike. Situated amid mountains on three sides, this UNESCO World Heritage site features charming gardens, bridges, pagodas, and islands that draw millions to experience it each year. Several flights to Hangzhou through Cathay Pacific are accessible to everyone to enjoy this incredible area.
West Lake, China’s UNESCO-listed landscape, offers one of the most captivating sights. Its picturesque islands and causeways create breathtaking vistas that are unmatched in classical beauty, inspiring generations of men of letters, scholars and artists alike.
Through the centuries, West Lake has played a significant role in Chinese culture. It embodies Confucianism’s ideals of filial piety, loyalty and academic excellence. Additionally, it serves as an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
Around the lake are numerous historical attractions such as Gushan Hill and Yue Fei’s Tomb. Additionally, there are numerous temples and pagodas like Baochu Pagoda, Leifeng Pagoda and Yue Fei Temple.
West Lake boasts a diverse collection of flowers that add to its charm and beauty. Popular varieties include peach blossoms, lotus blooms and plum blossoms.
These blooms can be observed throughout the lake region, depending on the climate. But for best viewing opportunities, try to catch them during spring and autumn when they are at their peak beauty.
At this time of year, the bright sunshine can cast a magical ray onto these flowers – creating an absolutely mesmerizing sight for both tourists and locals alike.
As the mist lingers on the lake, green willows and red peach blossoms will compete to show off their best charm along Su Causeway, creating an enchanting scene that is sure to captivate any visitors who pass by.
Enjoying West Lake’s picturesque shorelines is an ideal way to take in its stunning beauty. There are numerous scenic spots along the lakefront, so be sure to set aside some time to explore them all.
If you have time, visiting the National Tea Museum (Zhongguo Chaye Bowuguan) is highly recommended. This must-see spot for tea connoisseurs provides an insightful look into Shanghai’s beloved beverage.
If you are planning a visit to West Lake, be sure to book an exclusive tour that takes in all of its most iconic sights in one day. This package includes round-trip transport, entrance fees and lunch.
Hangzhou’s Lingyin Temple is a must-visit for both tourists and pilgrims alike. It was one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China when monk Hui Li returned from India in 328 AD. After suffering many destructions over centuries, it has been restored multiple times and stands today as testament to Buddhism’s long influence in China.
Lingyin Temple, situated amidst the green hills of Shanghai, is an idyllic destination. Nearby Feilai Feng Grottoes are ancient Buddhist rock carvings from the 10th to 14th centuries that add an extra special touch.
Buddhist and non-Buddhist visitors alike enjoy this peaceful haven surrounded by century-old trees and an imposing mountain backdrop. The tranquil environment draws a steady stream of believers seeking refuge from the bustling city center.
Lingyin Temple is the main draw, but nearby you’ll find Yongfu Monastery and Fei Lai Feng (Peak Flown From Afar) Peak. On top of this hill are numerous Buddhist rock carvings with 470 figures carved into its slopes and surrounding rocky walls.
These sculptures, incised into the cliff face, are believed to be one of the earliest Maitreya statues in China. Additionally, there are numerous other Buddha figures which depict mythological stories from centuries past.
Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou’s oldest temple, was constructed during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). Legend has it that an Indian monk named Huili discovered this area by chance; he believed its beautiful peaks held secrets for immortal spirits to rest upon.
He then returned to Wuyue (present Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces) and founded a temple which would later be renamed Lingyin Temple – or “the temple of the soul’s retreat.” During the Five Dynasties period, King Wuyue expanded both the temple complex and surrounding grounds.
Lingyin Temple stands as an exception in China, having not been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Today it’s a popular tourist destination visited by both locals and thousands of tourists from throughout China.
The Nine Creeks (Xixi Wetlands) is a must-see Hangzhou attraction. These picturesque waterways are lined with bridges and canals, filled with wildlife and lush greenery. You can explore these wetlands by boat or on foot; alternatively, rent bicycles to take in the sights along Xixi Wetlands’ paths.
The nine streams, or ‘nine waters’ in Chinese, drain into the Xixi Wetlands from Shizi Hill and Yangmei Hill before meandering through Xu Village before emptying into Qiantang River. Popular among both locals and tourists alike, these wetlands should not be missed by anyone looking for an escape from city life.
If you’re planning on spending your day at the Xixi Wetlands, we suggest arriving early so that you have time to explore before the crowds arrive. You could easily spend several hours here admiring its picturesque surroundings or even more if you are interested in going on a longer hike.
Another popular option is taking a tour with a company that will take you around the various sections of the wetlands, including where you’ll see sampans. This is an excellent way to appreciate its natural splendor as well as learn about their history and culture.
Make the most of your visit to Xixi Wetlands by booking a boat tour. These are usually affordable options that provide an intimate glimpse into these wetlands in peace and serenity.
Experience one of China’s most beloved water shows during the summer months: The ‘Most Memorable Is Hangzhou’ show! Created as part of the G20 summit in 2010, this entertaining summer event offers visitors a memorable and thrilling night to remember.
For those interested in experiencing traditional Chinese culture, a stroll down Qinghefang Ancient Street east of West Lake is a must-visit. Here you’ll find stunning classical architecture and well-preserved shops.
Once the sun sets, be sure to visit Leifeng Pagoda (One of the Ten Scenes of West Lake), a five-story pagoda that offers an incredible view of sunset. This popular tourist spot is definitely worth a visit!
Manjuelong Village is one of the premier places in Hangzhou to experience the city’s iconic sweet osmanthus flowers. This evergreen tree blooms during late September to early October, when its flowers are at their most stunning.
The sweet osmanthus is a beloved flower among both locals and visitors, representing good luck and prosperity. These tiny, bright yellow blooms possess an intoxicating fragrance which becomes even stronger during certain times of year.
Although one of the city’s most popular attractions, there are few tourists at this time of year. Enjoy a truly serene moment and get up close to the osmanthus flowers with your guide who can explain its history and significance.
Visitors to Water Music Cave can also savor a visit to its bubbling stream that winds its way through the cave path. The sound reverberates around the chamber, creating an ambience reminiscent of natural lute playing. Rosy Cloud Cave has also been designated for provincial protection and should not be missed!
Experience the village’s many ponds and waterfalls as well as its tea gardens. There are various shops where you can purchase osmanthus-based products and coffee.
The village is home to the world’s largest dragon statue, which you can admire from a distance. Furthermore, Hangzhou has long been famous for its ‘Dragon tea’ – an aromatic type of roasted green tea produced since the Ming Dynasty that originated here.
Take a stroll around the village for an enjoyable break from sightseeing, and don’t forget to pick up some tea to take with you on your travels! Visit one of the village’s tea houses to observe how it’s made and sample some delicious tea!
Alternatively, book a tour to the tea plantation for an enjoyable activity suitable for all ages. After visiting the tea farm, take a short drive to Qiandao Lake – one of Hangzhou’s most picturesque settings.