This 1,000-year old pagoda continues to capture the imagination of the Chinese for the legend behind it - one of captivity, magic and a triumph of good over evil. The top of the five-storey pagoda is accessible by lift and the view over the West Lake from here is truly amazing.
In old times, the temple bell resounded throughout Nanping Hill every day, summoning to pray for good fortune at Jingci Temple. Emperor Kangxi once said that the temple rouses one into deep thoughtfulness, and today monks of Jingci Temple still adhere to their daily sutras-chanting and meditation.
About 80 km from Hangzhou city and just an easy hour bus ride away, Wu Zhen is a town where time passes without notice. More and more tourists have discovered the time-worn cobbled stone streets, horse-head-shaped walls, wooden doors and long, narrow alleys of Wu Zhen. Still, the life of the locals seem undisturbed. They still keep to their traditional customs, like drinking Sanbai Wine, making Maiya Sugar and sipping morning tea until 9.30 am, the same leisurely and pleasing way their great grandfathers did.
To immerse yourself into China's age-old tea tradition, visit the Longjing Tea Fields (or any of the other tea fields further to the west). Longjing is an exquisite variety of tea native to the region, and visitors will get a chance to sample the noble drink during a tea ceremony.
Bring time to the serene Fei Lai Feng mountain park and marvel at the area's hundreds of Buddha stone carvings, surrounded by lush greenery and an indescribable tranquil atmosphere. Much of the walk will entail hiking uphill to Lingyin Temple, so bring comfortable shoes.
Acquaint yourself with mysterious and rather exotic remedies collected in this authentic museum housed inside a traditional mansion right on the commercial Hefang street. Explore herbs and roots and see stuffed animals (some - a sight not for the faint of heart) used in traditional healing.
This educational museum tells the fascinating story of silk - from silk worms to finished product (some exquisite exhibits are on display), with demonstration of traditional weaving techniques. Admission is free, and explanations in English are provided.
An institution in itself, Zhi Wei Guan proudly claims a history of almost 100 years. There is an old saying that people stop their carriage attracted by aromas from the Zhi Wei Guan restaurant and dismount from their horses. Today, the restaurant still ranks as the top restaurant in Hangzhou.
Zhangshengji is guided by ancient secret recipes and the principle that “food and medicine have the same origin”. Various artisan dishes are available depending on the season - duck, pork, fish, shrimp and more. It is a rather typical Chinese restaurant with private rooms and banquet halls.
To acquaint yourself with local Hangzhou cuisine, head to one of Grandma's Kitchen's many locales scattered throughout the city. It's a locals' and tourists' favorite, whose picture menu makes it easy to navigate the many unfamiliar words that might sound confusing to the unprepared visitor.
Visitors are spoiled for choice at Zhongshan South Road - walk down the busy foodie street and select from one of many casual dining restaurants with tables and chairs set up outside. Local Hangzhou flavors abound - most places serve up fresh seafood, Beggar's Chicken and more.
Elegantly set directly on the West Lake, Carbon is a restaurant, café and bar that offers a fusion menu with a traceable emphasis on European (French, Italian and Spanish) cuisines. The establishment attracts a stylish crowd, and the outdoor terrace fills up as the evening progresses.
One of Hangzhou's best picks when it comes to Japanese, the establishment prides itself on the top-notch quality of the ingredients used in meal preparation and attentive service. Buzzing even on an early Monday night, the restaurant serves authentic Japanese cuisine right by the scenic West Lake.
A very popular restaurant that is best visited at odd times to avoid rush hour crowds, this cosy eatery offers a unique ambiance, varied menu and affordable prices. Try the clay pot dishes and do not skip the guilty pleasure of Cantonese bread and ice cream for dessert.
Taiji Chadao Teahouse is a traditional and cosy spot located directly in the city's lively Qinghefang Street. This is a place not only for drinking tea, but also experiencing the profound and extensive tea culture of ancient China - tea is served with small snacks and fruit.
Nurture your body and mind at the scenic Innocent Age Book Bar, founded by a resilient cancer survivor who came up with the concept of an establishment that revolves around books - exchanging, selling and discussing them with like-minded visitors. Chinese and Western food and drinks on offer.
Beautifully set at an elevation overlooking a park, the Xiexie café is a favorite spot for local youths and students, known for its abundance of electric outlets to charge electronic devices. Western-style breakfasts, as well as more substantial meals, are available to order.
Conveniently located walking distance away from the boat docks at West Lake, this local café is a true find if you're open to discovering local desserts. Forget Western-style cakes and pastries and explore the multiple varieties of sweet pudding and fruit combinations available here.
One of the city's most stylish venues, the Aurora Lounge is celebrated as the place to be for cocktail connoisseurs. With fabled Jojo behind the bar, cocktails here are above par and live up to some of the most elevated expectations - choose from the menu or select a base alcohol to be worked with.
The owner of this 3-storey, hip bar likes to travel around the world and has encrusted the establishment's walls with interesting artifacts from his trips. Regular live music shows are hosted. There is also a board for those interested to leave a message seeking travel companions.
The street may feel a bit too polished, but is far from being your average tourist trap and shouldn't be mistaken for one. Some of the best street food in Hangzhou is to be had here, and multiple local shops crowd the area - find anything from pearls, to herbal remedies to tea and various souvenirs.
Located at West Lake, Hangzhou Dujinsheng was established in 1922 by businessman Mr. Du Jinsheng. Initially, Dujinsheng was a family mill and later became the Hangzhou Dujinsheng Textile Factory. Dujinsheng has grown to become China’s largest silk textile manufacture and export firm.
Wu Lin Road is one of the main leisure and shopping spots for women’s fashion in downtown Hangzhou. This shopping haven is 1,650 metres long and stretches from Qingchun Road in the south to Stadium Road in the north, lined with stores and boutiques all the way. Haggling is often expected.
For great bargains on silk, head to the Silk Market - a collection of small shops and vendors selling all manner of items made from the noble fabric. To get the best deals, prepare to haggle hard - and you will be duly rewarded. Prices may vary significantly from one shop to another.
Set up more than 100 years ago as the only comprehensive fan-making enterprise in China, Wangxingji produces about 15 series and more than 400 high quality types of elegant fans with many new varieties emerging. This place is well known for its intricate craftsmanship and graceful appearance.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport is located on the south bank of Qiantang River, 27 kilometres away from the downtown area of Hangzhou and 15 kilometres from Xiaoshan Town. A ride from the airport to Wu Lin Road takes about 50 minutes. Shuttle buses run regularly between the airport (Gate 14 area) and the city centre, where they make multiple stops (Huanglong Tourist Center, bus stations, etc.). There is a taxi stand at the airport (Gate 10).
There is an extensive and reliable bus network in Hangzhou, although bus schedules are all in Chinese only. Buses with a "Y" prefix are the ones that circulate among the tourist hot spots. Tickets can be bought directly from the driver (a bus card may be purchased at kiosks in advance). There is also a developing subway network. There are two railway stations in Hangzhou, one is New Railway Station (Cheng Zhan), used as the main station and the other is East Railway Station, that serves as the terminus. New Railway Station is near the Jiangcheng road and you can take K7, 11, K11, 151 to get there. The East Railway Station is near the Tiancheng Road and 20, 28, 31 and 48 buses can take you to it from downtown. The public transportation is very good in Hangzhou and buses serve most tourist sites. There are also bicycle rentals, with a deposit, to enjoy a journey around the West Lake.
Taxis are relatively easy to flag down, especially from public places such as bus stops and government buildings. Getting a cab right off the street normally works faster than calling to order one, as most telephone operators do not speak English and the service is generally relatively slow. Some Taxi companies for booking in advance: Hangzhou Taxi +86 571 28811111 Hangzhou Leyuan Transport Company +86 571 85311193 Hangzhou Volkswagen Taxi Company +86 571 2720397