12 Reasons Why You Should Visit Hangzhou
Marco Polo said of Hangzhou when he visited this Song Dynasty capital in the late 13th century: “it is without a doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world.” Today; it is not hard to imagine what made him fall in love with Hangzhou—because it still exists. The people, the temples, the food, the street life and above all the lake are all as charming, peaceful and beautiful as they were centuries ago, and continue to inspire poetry and romantic legends. Here are our top 12 reasons why you should not miss this city in China.
Without a doubt, West Lake is the top attraction visitors flock to when in Hangzhou. An ideal place for people watching, here you can experience how Chinese people spend their downtime. In 2011 it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea)
Longjing Tea is much sought after type of green tea due to its distinct taste, which is derived from its terroir and unique pan frying drying process which preserves its freshness. It is only grown on the slopes of Longjing Village and nourished with mineral rich water from an artificial lake, the fabled Dragon Well.
Longjin Tea | © Markovi Nebojsa
This is an open air spectacle of music, dance and lighting effects performed nightly against the natural backdrop of the West Lake and surrounding silhouette of mountains. Produced by award winning director Zhang Yimou, the show involves hundreds of performers and includes music from renowned Japanese composer Kitaro. This unique performance is especially adapted for Hangzhou.
West Lake by night I | © J Aaron Farr/Flickr
Hangzhou is home to close to a hundred museums dedicated to every aspect of Chinese culture imaginable, from tea to medicine to traditional Chinese cuisine. Two to look out for are the Chinese Silk Museum or the China Tea Museum.
Silk embroidery | ©Mel Gr/ Flickr
This rich dish of slow-cooked braised pork is named after popular Song dynasty poet Su Shi (nicknamed Su Tungpo) who is credited with having invented it. This dish, though popular worldwide, is originally from Hangzhou, therefore where better to sample it?
Dongpo pork | © Gary Stevens/Flickr
This lively promenade dates back to the Song dynasty and is packed with boutique stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs from tea to high quality silk scarves. You can buy snacks, pose for a picture in front of the big Buddha or enjoy tea in a traditional tea house. There is also a centuries old pharmacy called Huqingyutang, which is a must-visit.
Smiling Buddha | ©Markovic Nebojsa
With six sides, 13 storeys and standing nearly 60 meters high, this pavilion-style tower has a spiral case that leads to the top deck where you enjoy 360 degree views of the city and Qiantang river.
With hundreds of delicacies to choose from (though some can be quite bizarre to those more used to Western food), Hangzhou is the ideal location in which to sample street food.
Dumplings | ©Markovic Nebojsa