Just over 100 miles southwest of Shanghai lies the city of Hangzhou. A city of just under 9.5 million people, Hangzhou is relatively small compared to Shanghai's over 24 million. A 45-minute ride on the high speed train will easily take you from Shanghai to Hangzhou. Here's why you need to take the ride and explore this gorgeous city.
1. The Natural Beauty of West Lake
Since 2011, West Lake has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. With mountains on one side and the city of Hangzhou on the other, the Lake itself offers stunning landscape views. Various pagodas, pavilions, and temples line its shores.
In the evening, you can take a stroll along the lakeside, enjoying the breezes, the gardens, and the lights of the cityscape across the Lake. For an evening of entertainment, watch Impression West Lake, a show full of music, lights, and dance, with the lake itself taking on the roles of both stage and backdrop.
2. Shopping & Dining
In addition to standard shopping malls, Hangzhou also offers many opportunities for souvenir shopping along West Lake. We loved the ten yuan store, which is filled with magnets, chopsticks, toys, and other souvenir options for the approximate equivalent of $1.60.
3. The Gardens
The gardens surrounding the lake are beautiful in and of themselves.
Hangzhou offers great walkability. Its naturally relatively flat terrain adds to the man-made network of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to make it a wonderful city to ride a bike or take an urban hike.
5. Dragon Well Tea
Though China in general is known for its high-quality tea, Hangzhou is the only city to offer dragon well (longjingshan) tea, a famous green tea enjoyed by emperors and offered to visiting dignitaries.
So the next time you are planning a trip to China, particularly if you are visiting Shanghai, take the time to pop over and explore beautiful Hangzhou. You won't be disappointed!
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