Xihu (West Lake)
In Hangzhou, the West Lake is definitely a must-see spot. It is an incredibly beautiful lake saturated with a lot of gardens, pagoda, temples, and lovely artificial islands. Because of its heavenly beauty, the West Lake was bestowed as one of the top ten resorts in China in 1985, and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 due to its influenced garden design. The West Lake is particularly famous for its ten tremendous scenes, which are collectively known as the ‘Xihu Shi Jing’ (Ten Scenic Spots in the West Lake), and each is just heaven-like.
Xihu, Xihu District, Hangzhou, China, +86 571 8717 9617
Opened in 326AD, during the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Lingyin Temple is a nostalgic temple founded by Master Hui Li, a Western Indian monk. It is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in China, and, being very beautiful and solemn, many tourists love going there to appreciate the great architectural style. The temple is very grand, with several sacred halls, like the Heavenly Kings Hall, the Mahavira Hall, and the Yaowang Hall, covering a total area of around 90,000 meter squared.
Lingyin Temple, 1 Fayun Alley, Lingyin Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou, China, +86 571 8796 8665
Fei Lai Feng
Located next to the grand Buddhist Lingyin Temple, Fei Lai Feng, a mountain mainly composed of limestone, is 168 meters high and consists of 345 handcrafted stone Buddha statues. The statues are all ancient, and were mainly crafted during the Song, the Yuan, and the Five Dynasties (the later Liang, Tang, Jin, Han, and Zhou dynasties), an they are really delicate, sacred, and solemn. It is named ‘Fei Lai’ (‘flying’) because there is a folktale saying that the mountain indeed ‘flew’ from another place and landed on the current location (just like a meteorite).
Opening hours: 7.30am-5pm
Fei Lai Feng, Lingxi South Road, Xihu Distict, Hangzhou, China,+86 571 8796 9691
Constructed in 975AD, during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, Leifeng Pagoda is an antiquated five-storey tower with eight sides and located on the south of the West Lake. The pagoda is very famous because of a Chinese folktale, The Legend of the White Snake, describing the story of a scholar, Xu Xian, and a snake demon called Bai Suzhen. It is said that Bai was finally imprisoned by a Buddhist monk in Leifeng Pagoda for eternity. The story brings fame to the pagoda, making it well-known to every Chinese person, and a very popular tourist spot in Hangzhou.
Opening hours: 7.30am-9pm
Leifeng Pagoda, 15 Nanshan Road, Xihu District Hangzhou, China, +86 571 8798 2111
Xixi Wetland Park
Xixi Wetland Park is a very giant tourist spot covering a total area of 11.5 square kilometres. It is one of China’s national 5A-level tourist attractions (a system that rates the quality of tourist attractions in China). There are six main watercourses, a lot of wild animals, natural plants, and beautiful scenery which can definitely provide you with a refreshing and wholesome experience. There are indeed many great scenic spots worth visiting, such as the hazy fisher village, the autumn snow temple, the anchorage thatching, and the Xixi water attic. All are just fabulously picturesque locations that you can find nowhere but here.
Opening hours: 8.30am-5.30pm
Xixi Wetland Park, Xhoujia Village, Xihu District, Hangzhou, China, +86 571 8810 6789
Eat Hang Dim Sum in Zhi Wei Guan
If you want to try some delicious Hang dim sum, Zhi Wei Guan is surely somewhere should not be missed. This eatery opened in 1913, and offers orthodox Hang snacks and desserts. They provide a wide variety of dims sum which are a budget eating option, ranging from only RMB10 to 20, while some traditional Hang dishes can also be tried here, including Xihu fish in vinegar gravy and beggar’s chicken. The dining environment is also incredibly cosy, with a lovely terrace where you can enjoy the beautiful Xihu (West Lake) while eating.
Opening hours: 8am-10pm daily
Zhi Wei Guan, 83 Renhe Road, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou, China, +86 571 8701 8638
Opened in 1996, Songcheng is the biggest Song Dynasty theme park in China, receiving around six million tourists per year. The Romantic Show of Songcheng is a must-watch, as it is an amazing show which has already been performed over 17,000. Also, it is a great performance bestowed as one of the ‘Top Three Most Famous Shows in the World’, along with the O Show and the Moulin Rouge. If you love Chinese culture you should surely visit this park, as you will be able to learn about many ancient Chinese custom and stories through their interesting activities.
Opening hours: 9am-9pm
Songcheng Park, 148 Zhijiang Avenue, Xihu District, Hangzhou, China, +86 571 8731 3101
Walk around Hefang Street
Being part of the Qinghe Lane, Hefang Street is an antiqued pedestrian shopping street saturated with many ancient-style vendors, shops and teahouses, such as pillow shops, paper-cutting stores, and sugar candy sculptors. You can also find some famous time-honoured shops on the street, such as Hu Qing Yu Tang and Fang Hui Chun Tang selling Chinese medicine, the scissor store Zhang Xiao Quan, as well as the Wan Long ham store, which are all local and historic. Walking around the street, you can experience the life of ancient Hangzhou people, and this is surely a fabulous experience.
Former Residence of Hu Xueyan
Constructed betwenn 1872 and 1875, during the Qing Dynasty, this grand house complex with beautiful gardens and ponds was built by the famous red topped hat (denoting a second-grade officer in the Qing government) merchant, Hu Xueyan. His residence is extremely luxurious, with plenty of valuable antiques, rare paintings, expensive wooden furniture, and even some trendy Western ornaments, revealing a Sino-Western cultural mix. Besides those precious decorations, the interior design of each room is also incredibly fabulous, with a good layout and delicate sculptures on the doors, window frames, and furniture.
Opening hours: 8am-5.30 daily
Dining in Hyatt 28
If you want to have a fine meal in Hangzhou, Hyatt 28, a decent restaurant located in the Hyatt Hotel, is probably somewhere you should go, since it has been one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants for three years. They offer traditional Hang cuisine, which is normally light and delicate. For example, the Dongpo pork pyramid is a very exquisite dish which needs fresh ingredients and great knife skills, as the juicy pork belly has to be sliced into very thin pieces.
Opening hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-9.30pm daily
Watch out for: the Dongpo pork pyramid
Hyatt 28, Hyatt Hotel, 28 Hubin Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou, China, +86 571 8779 1234
By Katherine Lee Yik Mei