Useful Hangzhou Websites
Favorite thing: In addition to virtualtourist, you may find additional trip preparation information at
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
Stroll along the West Lake
Favorite thing: The West Lake is the major draw for tourists to Hangzhou. It is often considered to be the most beautiful lake in China. The bright blue lake is exquisite with its back drop of green hill that surround it on three sides. The West Lake is not large being only six square kilometers. The eastern bank of the lake has lengthy promenade where every seems to stroll up and down for hours. Sadly there are quite a few prostitute looking customers here after dark.
There are hourly water fountains dances here. These are water fountains that seem to dance to classical music that is piped through speakers. It is a great place for people watching and seeing the Chinese at play.
For me the highlight of the West Lake were the several islets that dot the western portion of the lake. These can be visited by way of cruise boat, which I highly recommend, and by causeway. The causeways are tree lined and very pretty. There are also many pagodas, museums and temples nearby. To visit all the attractions along the lake takes full day.
I approached the West Lake and Hangzhou with a bit of cynicism. Many of the attractions in China can be something of a letdown. This was not the case with the West Lake which I look upon with favourable memories.
- Family Travel
Lake of Happiness
Favorite thing: on weekend, just walk by the west lake- see the life of ppl - line dancing, pracitising qi gong, family camping by the garden, walk on the path way thru beds of flowers and cruising on the lake...
just dun forget to wear comfortable shoes and bring lots of water as the lake and garden cover big area and u wouldn't wanna miss the fun exploring....
Fondest memory: Hangzhou...e tour guide will say ...hangzhou is famous for its beautiful lakes and ladies...tats' true.
eveything is so perfect ....beautiful and serene lake, hills and sights...it's truly a heaven in jiangnan. even the most fiercesome warrior who was exiled to hangzhou - his heart could melt in hangzhou.
Lotus cultivation on the lake
Favorite thing: Lotus are of Buddhist symbolism - a beautiful flower blooming from a pool of mud.
There are many lotus plants flowering in West Lake and farm ponds in Hangzhou. Boatmen can be seen controlling the lotus growth as well as collecting the flowers, lotus fruits with edible seeds and edible lotus roots.
"Bonsai" or "Pengsai"
Favorite thing: Miniaturized trees in pots is a Chinese tradition made famous by the Japanese bonsai.
Pines, maples and all kinds of trees are slowly transfered into smaller and small pots. It is incredible to see flowering or changing foliage of these giant trees growing in small shallow basins.
Often rocks are added to symbolize mountains to these pengsai or small clay made pagodas or old men playing chess of fishing in creating a world of its own.
Rock sculptures of buddha, dieties, etc
Favorite thing: Another common temple features is the rock sculptures of buddhas, dieties, and immortalized generals and legendary characters.
Here is one of the "Laughing Buddha" with the characteristic large stomach. Touching the stomach is said to bring good luck and ofteh this part of the sculpture is "smoothened" from years of touching by worshippers.
Engraved Characters on the Rocks
Favorite thing: It is a temple traditions to have characters engraved onto the rocks in Chinese temples. Very often the characters is a historical record of famous poems, quotations, names of local beneficiaries.
In this picture, just a character for "Buddhism"
Summer in Hangzhou
Favorite thing: Summer in Hangzhou starts around the middle of May and continues up towards the end of September. Many people say that Hangzhou only has two seasons; hot and cold. This is certainly at least partly true. The summer is very hot; in July and August it is around 40 degrees most days, and May, June and September can also see quite a few hot days.
The summer is also typhoon season in China, and while Hangzhou is blessed with a location fairly sheltered from the worst of the winds and rain, we do get torrential downpours at times, and windspeeds that makes it impossible to get anywhere, at least if you are on two legs or two wheels.
But as long as you stay inside and have all your windows and doors closed, you should be fine. Just sit it out inside and admire the forces of Mother Nature from a safe distance.
Afterwards, the air is cleaner and the plants have a brighter shade of green, and once the sun comes out, nature continues to grow with that subtropical power it has here.
Fondest memory: The best thing to do during summer is to get as cool as possible; wear a hat, stay in the shade of the greenery, or inside cool down with the help of air con, and remember to drink, drink and drink some more. For example iced tea in a cool teahouse! :-)
The Chinese divide foods into hot and cold, and during the summer, it makes sense to eat cold food. Cold food is for example watermelon and cucumber. And by juicing these, you get refreshing drinks in the summer!
Fresh juices are cheap and readily available, and rarely do you need to worry about getting sick. It took some time for me to get used to drinking watermelon, but now it is definitely one of my favourites during the sultry summer. Watermelon juice is actually also more easy for me to pronounce anywhere near correctly than mineral water, so it's easy to order a xiguazi.
Another Chinese invention, tea, is also very refreshing when adding a newer invention -- ice -- to it.
Greenery close by
Favorite thing: When I moved to Hangzhou, I did not know what to expect, but I do know that I did not expect it to be such a green place! Nature in the form of West lake scenic area, gardens, Xixi wetlands and the National Park are just a short drive/bike ride away. Finn as I am, I am used to having forest on my doorstep (even had when I lived in the capital of Finland), I was really pleased with this aspect of Hangzhou.
Of course, these green areas are very popular with locals and tourists alike, so they can feel a bit crowded at times, but I have managed to find some quiet spots for myself. The locals like to have pick nicks in the parks and who can blame them? On a hot day, the trees shade and the breezes cool, the birds sing and the cikadas call. On a sunny Spring or autumn day, you can enjoy the warmth of the sun, take in the stunning scenery and socialise with your friends and family.
Also, be adviced that there is little really wild nature here, if it is not a park or park area, chances are it is used for tea cultivation (Long Jing tea or Dragon Well tea). Nonetheless, it is relaxing and refreshing for mind, body and spirit. Also, much of the parks are fashioned in Chinese style with bridges, pavillions and ponds. Very pleasing to the eye.
Fondest memory: Watching Spring arrive in West Lake area, January-March. It was still cold, so I dressed warmly and sometimes brought a thermos flask with hot tea to keep me going, my camera and a book and settled down on a bench (too cold to sit on the ground). I would observe the local fauna (natural and planted) like orange carps, birds, squirrels, ferrets (!) and snakes (!). Later, I would head for a tea house to heat up and line my stomach with snacks and tea.
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
Spring in Hangzhou
Favorite thing: In China, the best times to travel are what the Chinese refer to as the Golden Season; Spring and Autumn. During this time, the Chinese have holidays (Labour Day week in early May, National Day week in early October) and now you know why. The Winter can be bitterly cold in many parts of China, and the summer painfully hot.
While the weather is good, go out and enjoy the greenery in the parks!
Fondest memory: Spring in Hangzhou is really fantastic when the weather gets warmer and the sun entices the plants and trees to blossom. The national park area and parks around the West Lake wakes up and dresses up to the nines. Recently, I was privileged enough to have a lot of free time to spend in the parks around the lake and record the progress of Spring.
The Spring is cool and sunny, and there are a lot of blossom everywhere!
- Hiking and Walking
Beware of Traffic
Favorite thing: The traffic at Qing He Fang street is quite bad as there are many buses carrying tourists here and there isn't any really enough parking lots.So do look out for the traffic before you cross the road even if it is a pedestrian crossing.
- Road Trip
BAMBOO MUSEUM GARDEN
Favorite thing: In the cold war period the west media often call China BAMBOO SCREEN. So,China is the homeland of bamboo on the world. And Hangzhou is the first land of bamboo in China.
This garden is at suburb of Hangzhou. They say it is the only museum on the world. You can see all kind of bamboo and great many fine arts and crafts made of bamboo from China and other countries.
- Museum Visits
Hangzhou - Carp Pond in Hua Gang Park
Favorite thing: Watching fish in the flowery stream is one of the top ten sights of the West Lake.
The stream from Huajiashan Hill joins the West Lake here. The park is divided into seven parts. Red Carp Pond is one of which.
Hangzhou - Ling Yin Temple
Favorite thing: There is a chinese saying that "there is a temple in every hill. And in the case of Lingyin temple, the hill is in the temple compound.
Various Chinese Emperors visited this temple including Qian Long.
Hangzhou Hua Gang Park (Flower Harbor Park)
Favorite thing: The Hua Gang Park (Flower Harbor Park) was a small private garden built and owned by Lu Yunsheng.
Flower Harbor became a recreation resort for viewing goldfishes.
In the park there are four sections, the Peony Yard, the Red Fish Pool, the Thick Forest Zone and the New Flower Harbor.
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