Thanks to the gorgeous West Lake and the luscious green hills, Hangzhou has become a leading vacation destination in China. The capital and most populous city of Zhejiang Province in East China is renowned for its magnificent natural beauty, cultural legacy, illustrious heritage and historical wonders. Hangzhou is not only the political and economic hub of the Zhejiang province but is the cultural center as well.
Be sure to catch a glimpse of one of the most popular and stunning lakes in China, the West Lake. It is one of the premier reasons for folks to visit Hangzhou. Go for a stroll on any of the three man-made walkways (Su, Bai and Yanggong) across the lake. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. Referred locally as Lingyin Si ( Temple of the Soul's Retreat), this is one of China's biggest Buddhist temples. One has to enter, passing through shallow caves and grottos comprising over 400 Buddhist rock carvings, many dating as far back as from the 10th to 14th centuries.
Perched over the southern lakeshore, is the octagonal, five-storey Leifeng Pagoda. Trek over to the top floor to view excellent views across the lakes, islands, bridges and gardens, plus the magnificent city beyond. Situated against the hillside across the road from Leifeng Pagoda, this tranquil Buddhist monastery is home to an extensive effigy of Sakyamuni in the main hall. The adjacent hall contains a fabulous 1000-arm statue of Gunayin. Apparently, this is where the Japanese monk, Nampo Jomyo, studied about Zen, before returning to Kytoto with this new insightful information.
Situated in a luscious forest, on a hill overlooking the northern lakeshore, the magnificent Baopu Taoist temple is vibrant, colourful and serene. In the Zhejiang province, it is the only Taoist temple. It exhibits ornate carved wooden facades and incense smoke emanating from the courtyards. Adjacent to the southwest of the lake lies the 60m-high (197 ft) octagonal pagoda, first built in 190 AD. Overlooking the Qiantang River, it once used to serve as a lighthouse. Go for a stroll behind the Pagoda, for the stretch is lined up with shrines.
There are several museums in Hangzhou worth visiting. Some of them are: China National Tea Museum (only museum in China devoted to tea; traces the history of Chinese tea-tasting customs), China Silk Museum (traces the history of silk culture and the clothing items that aided in making Hangzhou one of the country's wealthiest and most cultured cities) and Zhejiang Provincial Museum (collection including decorated pottery, some of the most ancient varnished bowls in the globe and a great amount of objects made from jade).
When it comes to shopping, one of the most popular item to be purchased is the Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea, for it one of the most popular commodity to be produced in Hangzhou. Other goods to be bought are: silk, scarves, shawls, fans and silk paintings. As for cuisine, do try out some of their local delicacies such as Dongpo Pork (pork is stewed along with vinegar, scallion, ginger, and sugar, in a sealed casserole pot over a low heat).
The stay options in Hangzhou are abundant with the best luxury hotels, rental apartments and cheap accommodations available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
Hangzhou experiences humid subtropical climate. The best time to visit would be spring and autumn for the temperatures are pleasant and cool.