Visitors are drawn to Hangzhou’s gorgeous West Lake, as well as its temples, pavilions and gardens. Find out why the city's sites and rich history deserve to be explored in depth
With its dreamy lake-side panoramas, Hangzhou is the stuff of Chinese folklore. Its UNESCO-listed West Lake has fired the imagination of locals for centuries, in part due to it being the setting of a popular ancient fable: the Legend of the White Snake.
It’s a draw for travellers, too, with its banks lined with willows and studded by temples. Nightly music and theatrical performances of The Image of Hangzhou bring its shores to life, but there’s more to the city than its perfect watercolour scene...
Traditional boat on West Lake (Dreamstime)
West Lake is not Hangzhou’s only UNESCO site. It’s also the bookend of another wonder, the ancient Grand Canal, the world’s longest man-made waterway (1,794km). Stretching all the way to Beijing, you can float by traditional waterside villages and stone bridges for a glimpse into traditional Chinese river life.
But Hangzhou’s past wasn’t just forged on water, it was once widely known for its silk. Demand even reached the Roman Empire, creating the legendary Silk Road. Now, you can pick up your own piece of woven history in the city’s Hefang Street, which conjures the spirit of its Song dynasty (960–1279 AD) heyday, when the trade was in its pomp.
Temples and pagodas line the city centre, including the exquisite Buddhist Lingyin Temple. But nothing beats sitting by the West Lake with a cup of local Longjing green tea, glimpsing the hills in the distance and dreaming of your own legendary adventure...
This article was sponsored by Hangzhou Tourist Board. For more information, see www.gotohz.com
Main image: West Lake, Hangzhou (Dreamstime)