It may be regarded as an industrial city, but Hangzhou is renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty, and despite undergoing much urban development recently, it still retains its historical and cultural heritage. If you find yourself in the city with a few hours to spare, Kate Kennedy has some suggestions regarding how best to pass the time.
1. West Lake
The lake holds many attractions, and you can spend a whole day exploring different sites. The Broken Bridge is a must-see for its picturesque view. The West Lake Museum is dedicated to the cultural heritage of the West Lake. On the eastern shore is the China Academy of Art. To the south is Hangzhou Underwater World, and to the south west is Ma Yifu Memorial Hall. Hop into a gondola if you’d like to see more in a shorter space of time.
2. Lingyin Temple
The Lingyin Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in China. It was constructed in 326 AD at the foot of Lingyin Mountain by an Indian monk named Huili. The temple’s name is commonly translated as ‘Temple of the Soul’s Retreat’. It is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in the country, and contains numerous pagodas and Buddhist grottoes. In the main hall stands a nearly 20-metre tall statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, carved out of 24 pieces of camphor wood. A laughing Buddha in the front hall, also carved in camphor wood, is covered in gold.
3. Hupao Spring
Hupao, or Tiger, Spring is one of the top three springs in China due to its unique fountain – the water, which tastes pure and sweet, rises three millimetres above a bowl edge without overflowing. This phenomenon is caused by the water’s high surface tension. Hupao Spring Forest Park is rife with streams, trees, pagodas and pavilions. Beside the park’s natural elements, the area contains Chinese culture and history worth exploring.
4. Liuhe Pagoda
Liuhe literally means the harmony of East, West, South, North, heaven and earth, the six Buddhist ordinances, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Six Harmonies Pagoda. The original Liuhe Pagoda was built in 970 AD. The structure was completely destroyed during warfare in 1121. Today, the Liuhe Pagoda is more than a single pagoda – it has become Liuhe Pagoda Scenic Area, composed of four major areas: the Liuhe Pagoda, Kaihua Temple, Liuhe Stele Pavilion and Liuhe Pagoda Garden.
5. Meijiawu Tea Plantation
Longjing means ‘Dragon Well’, a place suitable for the planting of the famous green tea. Longjing tea is one of China’s best teas and is one reason for Hangzhou’s international fame. Meijiawu provides a wonderful rural scenery and peaceful atmosphere. If you climb the hill into a mix of the dense tea trees, you can watch workers pick tea. The flat and smooth tea leaves, resembling pine needles, brew a tea with light to dark green colour, a fragrant scent, and a refreshing taste.