Historically, Hangzhou has always been an important city in China for domestic and foreign trade. Today, the modern city has become known in China as a center of beautiful scenery, industry (particularly cotton and silk), and tourism. Visitors from around the world visit Hangzhou due to its historical interest points and notable destinations. Here are the top 15 best places to visit in Hangzhou!
Perhaps one of Hangzhou’s best-known symbols, the West Lake is well-regarded within China as a national treasure. While there, go biking, take a boat cruise, go for a scenic walk or just take in the beauty of nature. Some of the most popular biking and walking avenues are the Su Causeway and the Bai Causeway. No motor vehicles are permitted, so make sure you take either on foot or by traditional bike. Be sure to hit the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon if you decide to boat. This is the perfect leisure activity for an entire day while visiting Hangzhou—there’s a reason it comes so highly recommended!
As most temples are, Yu Fei Temple was built to commemorate Yu Fei. Today, the temple is nationally protected. General Yue Fei is honored for being sentenced to death for crimes he didn’t commit. For this he is a national hero and visiting his temple while you’re in Hangzhou is an awesome way to learn more about the historical context surrounding it. Luckily, the temple is right on the banks of the West Lake, so when you’re inevitably in the area, make sure you check it out.
This temple was built during an early part of Chinese history in 326 AD. Its main features include a main hall that stands almost 34 meters high, a statue of Sakyamuni carved out of 24 pieces of camphor wood, and a golden Buddha. It has been described as a “peaceful” and “calming” experience to walk through the temple and explore the buddhas. Be sure to bring your camera when you go to find tranquility at this spot.
This spot is a great place to enjoy food and tea prepared by locals outside of the hustle and bustle of the city when you’re in Hangzhou. Head out to the Dragon Well Tea Village to see the plantation and taste test for yourself. The tea itself can be a bit pricier, so be prepared with your budget. There are also some opportunities for private tours if that is your preferred method to experience the village. Learn a lot and leave with spectacular pictures!
Qinghefang Ancient Streets is a pedestrian street in Hangzhou. It is well-preserved and packed with history. Qinghefang is also an awesome spot for tourists to visitors to shop as it’s a commercial center. Go here to grab a bite to eat, find souvenirs, look at works of art or handcrafted goods, and try local foods.
Also located near the West Lake in Hangzhou, the Chinese National Silk Museum is a state-level museum in China and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was first established in 1992 and then reopened in 1992 after it was renovated. Its goal is to collect, research, conserve, and display Chinese textiles (namely silk). Visiting it demonstrates the way that silk has impacted the state and continues to provide a cultural heritage as well as international cooperation.
Mount Mogan is the perfect place to go hiking while you’re in the Hangzhou area. The mountain has three peaks as well as foothills. There are European style villas and guesthouses in Mount Mogan so you can plan to stay instead of hiking in and out each day. As far as what you’ll see, there are beautiful pines and bamboo forests that make each hike unique. You can plan to hike to the waterfall and Sword Pond and enjoy the convenience of paved paths.
Wuzhen Water Town is an area that produces rice, fish, and silk due to the fertile land that surrounds it. It’s at the southern region of the Yangtze River and provides allows you to enjoy water from every angle. You can walk along the water, walk over it on the town’s many bridges, or ride on top on a boat tour. The picturesque scenery is just waiting to be appreciated, and the town is absolutely charming. If you’re someone who loves the water, spend the day getting to know somewhere a bit quieter than the city of Hangzhou.
The water from Tiger Spring is delicious enough for locals to make their tea from if that tells you anything. Visit Tiger Spring to appreciate the beauty of getting water from a natural source instead of a water bottle (although you can certainly fill one up). Either hike up the hill or take a taxi and then enjoy a drink from the sweet spring. On hot summer days, this is an especially great activity. While you’re up there, they’ll be some vendors offering tea or even a restaurant offering refreshments with incorporating the spring water.
Also called Thousand Islands Lake, Qiandao Lake is a little bit outside the Hangzhou area but worth the drive. The lake is large with numerous island—hence the name—and is incredibly peaceful and relaxing. Take advantage of the opportunity to go boating, kayaking, or anything that takes you out on the water itself.
Xixi National Wetland Park allows tourists to see beautiful waterscapes of flowers and plants. There are three causeways that divide the park: Fu, Green, and Longevity. Fu Causeway connects all the main attractions and links the bridges. Green Causeway features aquatic grasses and wildflowers. Longevity offers you a view of a wooden wharf and some watercourses. Overall, while there’s plenty of water in Hangzhou, you won’t see water quite like this outside of a wetland park.
To the south of West Lake, Six Harmonies Pagoda is a true wonder of Chinese architecture. The pagoda was first constructed in 970 and aimed to calm the tidal waters of the Qiantang River to help with navigation. In 1121, the pagoda was entirely destroyed. The pagoda has an octagon shape with spiral staircases to each of the 13 stories. The pagoda is the most famous in all of Hangzhou and is not only an awesome photo op but has an interesting interior to tour as well.
The Longyou Grottoes is considered to be the “ninth wonder of the ancient world” by locals. If you’re fascinated by archaeology, geology or architecture, this spot may just be for you. It’s an underground world just waiting for you to explore. It’s still unknown why the caves exist or why they’re so well-preserved. Go visit for yourself and create your own hypothesis—whether they were for soldiers or created by aliens or some other idea you might have!
This pagoda provides breathtaking views over West Lake. With five stories and eight sides, you’ll get whatever view you’re seeking. It was originally constructed in 975 AD. However, in 1924 it collapsed and had to be rebuilt in 2002. It has since been a popular spot for tourists and has become a renowned tower in Hangzhou. Check it out during sunset for particularly great scenery!
To the north of West Lake, Baochu Pagoda sits atop Precious Stone Hill. The pagoda is now under state protection as a key historical and cultural relic. The elegant appearance of the structure is a wonder given that it supports seven stories. The climb is steep so make sure you’re up for it before you begin but you’ll be treated to a fabulous architecture once you make it there. Once you’ve seen the pagoda up close (it’s not accessible to the public inside), continue up the hill for more great views of the city.
Anchored by the West Lake, Hangzhou is an amazing city that has a lot of options if you like nature. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get up high to see over the water and the natural landforms of Hangzhou, which is a great way to contextualize the city. From water to mountains, you’ll get in touch with your inner peace just by visiting the sights that this area has to offer. The views you witness here might be some of the best in the world. If the opportunity presents itself to visit Hangzhou, don’t pass it up, there’s more than you know in this great Chinese city.