Courtesy Aman

Hangzhou is a great addition for visitors planning on primarily seeing major Chinese cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, and who crave a bit of traditional, rural China before heading back home. A couple of days spent relaxing at one of the world-class resorts here, coupled with some sightseeing, tea sampling (and purchasing) and relaxing, would be a good addition to a busy China itinerary.

Cheat Sheet

  • Sleep…with a view of West Lake at the Four Seasons
  • Experience…a sunrise Tai chi lesson with a master trainer
  • Splurge…on a suite in a restored Chinese pagoda at the authentic Amanfayun
  • Eat…a meal at Le Lotus, restaurant of the new Relais & Chateaux Chaptel Hotel in town
  • Drink…a sampling of the famous Longjing tea during harvest at one of the local tea villages
  • Savor…a boat ride across West Lake and its canalways
  • Visit…a local medical clinic and pharmacy to learn about Chinese medicine
  • See…one of the largest sitting Buddhas in China at Lingyin Temple
  • Shop… for local knick-knacks in the Old Town
  • Know…that as an Indagare member you can contact our Bookings Team for customized recommendations and itineraries

Lay of the Land

Hangzhou, located some 100 miles south of Shanghai, has long been renowned as one of China’s most prosperous cities, beloved and sought out by many for its memorable natural scenery, as well as well-preserved pagodas, temples and pavilions. (Marco Polo reportedly described it as “without doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world.”) The city itself is fast expanding and, like any major Chinese metropolis, parts of it can be overwhelming, fast-paced and noisy. A short way out of town, however, lies the 16-acre West Lake, an enormous, beautiful fresh water lake framed on three sides by rolling hills and mountains and the inspiration of countless poems, paintings and calligraphy.

When to Go

Avoid peak tourist seasons, like Chinese New Year’s, as Hangzhou is a popular destination for local tourism and quite busy throughout the year. The Spring is the time to go for tea connoisseurs (first flush in Longjing is a big deal); in the Fall, the forests turn a myriad of colors, and the weather is refreshingly brisk in the morning and evening, and mostly sunny during the day. The peak of Winter (January February) can get down to 32F while summers can be oppressively hot. During the summertime, mosquitoes can be prevalent.

Getting There

Hangzhou’s international airport has daily flights from such major Asian cities as Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, as well as a direct flight from Amsterdam (KLM Airlines).

With a high-speed train, Hangzhou can also be reached in 45 minutes from Shanghai. Be sure to book one of eight first-class pod seats (only minimally more expansive than second class) and ask your guide or concierge to verify train times as the schedules sometimes change. Note that the train station in Shanghai makes Grand Central look like that of a small village; it’s not impossible to navigate as a non-Chinese-speaker but most travelers should plan ahead with a local specialist who can arrange for porters and ground service.

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Beyond… Hangzhou

Consider combining your trip with one of these destinations.

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