Cheap Flights to Hangzhou
To discover the traditional China of the willow plates, just head for Hangzhou. This lovely capital of Zhejiang Province has pagodas, pavilions, lakes, bridges and watercolour vistas and much more besides.
A thriving modern city with a rich and ancient past, Hangzhou lies on China's east coast just an hour from Shanghai by bullet train. It served as capital of the Southern Song Dynasty for 150 years until the Mongols invaded in 1276. Marco Polo passed through and eulogised the city as the finest and most luxurious in the world.
Its status as a centre for printing, silk weaving, tea growing and porcelain firing can be found today in the ceramics kilns, silk weavers and tea and porcelain museums.
Linked to Beijing via the ancient Grand Canal, the city has a strong connection with water. The city's West Lake is revered throughout China and is home to some unique water towns including Wuzhen and Nanxun.
While the lake is the city's iconic draw and should not by missed, the city also offers botanical gardens, tea villages, pagodas and temples galore as well as delightful scenery to explore in the hills and surrounding countryside.
Hangzhou also loves to celebrate all the festivals in the Chinese calendar and many of its own including the lakeside Fantasy Bubble Festival and West Lake Lotus Festival.
Things to do
Hangzhou is a laid back city to be savoured gently, preferably on foot or bicycle. The lake is not to be missed and its tea culture offers insights into its ancient tradition, as does visits to the Chinese medicine and silk museums.
Whether on an organised tour or independently on your own two wheels or feet, a spin around the city's sights includes a bevy of must-visits including the Six Harmonies Pagoda, Jìngcí Temple and the remote and mystical Língyǐn Temple.
The West Lake is revered throughout the country as the epitome of Chinese beauty. Take a boat trip, or walk or cycle around the perimeter to view enchanting gardens, bridges, willow-lined shores and pagoda-crested hills,.
Chinese tea culture originated here and is alive and well today. The city boasts over 700 teahouses and tea buffs can also visit tea plantations in the West Lake Mountains and the China National Tea Museum in Longjin Village: the source of the famous Dragon Well tea.
Calendar of Events
Hangzhou marks all the major Chinese festivals along with many that are uniquely its own.
Lantern Festival. This lovely occasion held on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar marks the end of Chinese New Year. Ornamental lanterns hung around the city create a wonderland of light.
Dragon Well Tea Festival. Organised by the Dragon Well Village at tea harvest time in May, this event lets visitors experience the picking, brewing and drinking of tea in a lovely setting.
West Lake Lotus Festival. The blossoming of lotus flowers on the West Lake during July and August gives rise to this charming festival. Activities include viewing, picking and shelling lotus plants as well as enjoying shows and folk performances.