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Book a flight to Hangzhou with Qatar Airways and discover the Capital of China’s eastern Zhejiang Province. Hangzhou is a cultural and economic centre, and home to 8.7 million people. Its central landmark is the 6.5-square-kilometre West Lake, a freshwater idyll, sectioned by causeways and speckled with pagodas, temples and artificial islands.
So travel to Hangzhou and prepare for an adventure in China’s eastern reaches.
West Lake is Hangzhou's main tourist attraction; its pagoda-topped hills and islands have inspired artists and poets for centuries, and it is so expansive that it has its own highlights to choose from. If you are determined to squeeze all of them in, rent a bike or enjoy a boat ride. Make sure you stop off at the Broken Bridge, the lake's most romantic spot.
To the north of the lake, Zhejiang Museum exhibits a treasure trove of traditional Chinese artefacts. The tomb of Su Xiaoxiao, a 5th-century courtesan who died of grief waiting for her lover to return to her, makes for a melancholy but beautiful sight. Legend has it that she haunts the area at night, when the tinkling bells on her dress can still be heard.
Hangzhou is packed with splendid temples. Lingyin Temple is the city's most famous Buddhist temple, dating back to 326 AD. The only Taoist temple in East China can be found here – Baopu Taoist Temple. Six Harmonies Pagoda, which is surrounded by a lush park, is also worth visiting.
Early morning is the best time of day to take in West Lake’s spectacular scenery, by bike or on foot. When evening falls, take in one of two performances of “Impressions West Lake”, a love story performed on the lake; it's a memorable display.
Hiking is a popular pastime for residents and visitors, and there are plenty of trails within easy reach of Hangzhou. Climb Yuhurang Hill to see the summit's temple complex or take the scenic trail up to the Baochu Pagoda.
For an ideal start to the day, why not spend a morning boating along the Hangzhou-Beijing Canal? Your afternoon could then be whiled away in a traditional tea house. Or you could visit the China Tea Museum, where you will find 3.7 hectares dedicated to tea cultivation and tasting.
Hangzhou is renowned as one of China's best places to eat. Local cuisine is always imaginatively named, with a story to tell, and is characterised by fresh, sweet flavours. Specialities such as fried eel slices, Hangzhou soy-sauce duck and Lonjing shrimp are delicious. You'll also find a range of Sichuan, Xinjiang and Shanxi restaurants in the city centre.
Dumpling houses are popular here, while street food can be found on every corner and is ideal for refuelling in between hiking and sightseeing. You will also find hot-pot restaurants, fine-dining establishments with views over West Lake, and Japanese restaurants.
When you travel to Hangzhou, you simply must visit the Wushan Night Market, held every night, with everything imaginable on sale. Be prepared for a marathon of haggling, but avoid buying pearls or antiques. Chinese clothing and local handicrafts are the best purchases. For silk, head to Hangzhou China Silk Town.
Images of Chinese street scenes from many movies come to mind on a visit to The Bird and Flower Market, next to Wushan Square. It's exactly as cinema portrays: four floors of pets, plants and strange Chinese medicinal concoctions, containing ingredients such as seahorse or dried snake. Bird and Flower is weird, wonderful, and an authentic Hangzhou experience.
Tea lovers can purchase Dragon Well tea at the local markets, but a far better option is the tea fields of Hangzhou; here, you can see where the tea is grown and purchase it fresh from the bags of the harvesters.
Essential facts about Hangzhou
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip