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West Lake (1 - 3 hrs)

Xī Hú (in Chinese literally ‘West Lake’) is a famous fresh water lake located in the historic center of Hangzhou.

West Lake is not only famous for its picturesque landscape, it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes and revolutionary martyrs, thus embracing many aspects of Chinese culture. In addition, many ancient buildings, stone caves and engraved tablets in surrounding areas are among the most cherished national treasures of China, with significant artistic value.

Whatever the season, the panorama is pleasing to the eye and the nuances of light shade together with the moods of the weather present an ever-changing picture that justifiably has been described as 'intoxicating'.

It’s great to make a boat tour on the lake of course. There are numerous providers of boat rides on the lake. The official tour operator sells tickets from official ticket stalls for boat trips covered by insurance, with clear pricing and which covers all parts of the lake.

There are lots of private gondola rides as well with varying insurance coverage, range and prices. You can rent one of the small boats that you will find on the promenade for example but you will have to negotiate the price with the rower.

Here you will find a lot of information about types of boat you can rent, prices and places where you can board.

West Lake music and light show (1½ hr)

‘Impressions of West Lake’ is an open-air spectacle of light, music, dance and theatrics shown on the Yue Lake of the West Lake (just in front of Yue Fei Temple).

The story is a very creative interpretation of the Hangzhou legend ‘White Snake’. Using the lake and its surroundings as a stage, hundreds of actors performing on the lake, a spectacular light show all around the lake and technology and engineering used on the lake stage will help you to have a great night. The mystical music of Kitaro will relax you while watching this breathtaking show.

There are two performances every night. Tickets can be bought at most of the little travel agencies in Hangzhou, who will usually arrange your transport too. Prices may vary if you are going in a group. For example: 250 RMB for 1 visitor, to 200 RMB if you are with 10 visitors.

Hefang Ancient Street (2 hrs)

Hefang Street is a well-designed old pedestrian street, which is the epitome of old Hangzhou. It is so far the most representative street that can show the history of Hangzhou. It is also an important component for West Lake to apply for the World Heritage.

You will find well preserved Ming and Qing dynasty buildings along the two sides of the street. Shops selling art crafts, souvenirs and silk, teahouses and restaurants line on both sides of the street. Hefang Street is also known as the Snack Street for the diverse food it serves, and probably the most convenient place in Hangzhou for souvenir shopping.

Walking along this street, you can imagine what it must have been like in centuries past, and in the west end (by Zhonghe Zhong Lu, or Middle Zhonghe Road) you find the food market. To the east end, towards the lake, you will also find Wushan night market. Shops and restaurants are open all day, so you can go there any time.

Wushantianfeng temple (1½ hr)

The Heavenly Wind of Wushan Hill, on the east side of West Lake, is one of the declared most beautiful attractions surrounding Hangzhou’s West Lake.

On the top of Wushan Hill is the Chenghuang pavilion, a temple completed in 1999 featuring Yuan and Ming architecture style, offering panoramic views of both Qiantang River and the lake.

You can walk there from Hefang Street. You walk through a wonderful park. Once inside the temple you can go upstairs by stairs or elevator. Go to the top-floor, as the views from there are absolutely stunning.

Tea Museum (2 hrs)

China is the birthplace of tea and has the longest history of tea culture. The National Tea Museum was opened in Hangzhou in 1991. It is located in Longjing (Dragon Well) Village, west of West Lake.

This museum is the only one in China with the tea theme. The museum has no external walls but is enclosed by vegetation giving the unique impression that the halls and the tea in the museum depend upon each other.

Visitors can discover the great impact of tea on the lives of various Chinese minority groups. The Kaleidoscope Hall features more than three hundred kinds of tea, including the six basic types of tea in China including some reprocessed teas. To learn more about these kinds of tea, just take a digital earphone. In the museum, visitors also have opportunities to see a tea art performance and drink teas in a calm and quiet place.

The admission fee for the museum is free. The opening hours are daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. The museum is located at 88 Longjing Road. You can go to there by bus 27 or tourist bus 3.

Wushan Night market (2 hrs)

Every night there’s a night market off Yan'an Road near Pinghai Road (right near Wushan). At this Wushan night market you can find Mao memorabilia, jewelry, paper fans, pipes, luggage, handicrafts and other items that most Chinese cities have.

Pirated DVDs and counterfeit handbags are for sale as well but it’s not much. You can also find a lot of those silk-screen printed paintings things that the silk market also has. Bargain very hard, many stalls sell the same stuff, so be prepared to walk away.

There’s a lot of vintage stuff on sale but be careful buying ‘antiques’ because it’s probably fake. And be careful with pearls as well. Often the pearl culturing process has been very short, and in fact the ‘pearl’ is a plastic marble with only the thinnest of cultured skin.

Biking in Hangzhou (1 hr - 1 day)

You can rent a bicycle and tour the West Lake or other parts of the city. Hangzhou has 350 points for public bicycle lease and has 10,000 bicycles.

The lease time is from 6.30 am to 8.30 pm. You have to purchase a stored value card. The deposit is 300 Yuan, 200 for deposit and 100 for prepayment. You need an ID card or valid document to rent a bicycle.

Bikes may then be rented by tapping the card against one of the automated bike racks holding the bikes. A beep and the audible sound of the rack unlocking will indicate that the bike can be removed. You can use any of the available bike racks scattered about the city if you like to visit an attraction or get a new bike. It is free for the first one hour and charges some fee for the exceeded time. Most of the points have self-service equipments.

A wonderful tour to do in one morning is this one: start on the north side of the lake, and head west towards Zhejiang University, then down Lingyin Road past the Botanical Gardens and into Longjing Village. Keep heading West and south through the tea villages, bamboo forest, and scenic valleys to the river and cut over towards Six Harmonies Pagoda. Go back to the south end of the lake via the road right next to Six Harmonies, past the zoo, through the tunnels.

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Language of the world

Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Hangzhou.