From ancient temples to drinking tea, here are the best 10 things to do in Hangzhou!

The carved Buddhas were one of my favourite parts of visiting this area - Things to do in Hangzhou

Lingyin Temple.

An hour away from Shanghai on the high-speed train is the beautiful, diverse, and vibrant city of Hangzhou. Hangzhou took the spotlight in 2016 as the host of the G20 Summit.

Spring and Autumn are the best times of the year to visit, but try to avoid national holidays as they can make the city extremely busy. In the winter, pollution can get very bad and it can get very cold. Summer can be scorching and (once again) full of tourists.

The view from our window on a polluted versus clear day - Things to do in Hangzhou

The view from our window on a polluted versus clear day.

Top 10 Things To Do In Hangzhou, China

There is so much to see and do in Hangzhou and this post has some of the essentials.

1) The West Lake

You can’t go to Hangzhou and miss the West Lake. It would be like going to Disneyland and not seeing the Magic Castle.

View of the West Lake from near Baochu Pagoda - Things to do in Hangzhou

View of the West Lake from near Baochu Pagoda.

The good news is, there is no chance that you will miss it as it’s 6.5 km² and hosts an array of attractions in the surrounding area.

There are a plethora of companies which offer boat trips on the lake. If a boat trip doesn’t take your fancy, grab a seat at one of the many cafes overlooking the lake and soak up the atmosphere. Seriously, it’s one of the best things to do in Hangzhou!

2) Baochu Pagoda

It’s a worthwhile walk up to Baochu Pagoda to get a spectacular view of the city. On a clear day, you can get panoramic views of the lake and the ever growing city.

Take in the combination of urban and natural surroundings and don’t hurry down in a rush. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are some rocks to climb across for the best views.

3) Drink Longjing Tea

This green tea is grown locally and is a speciality of Hangzhou. However, you might find it at an inflated price, especially if you’re at a fancy café by the West Lake. For some insight into the tea of Hangzhou, check out the National Tea Museum.

4) Leifeng Pagoda

At the south of the West Lake is the impressive Leifeng Pagoda. An original pagoda was built on this site over 1,000 years ago but it collapsed in the early 1920s.

View from the top of Leifeng Pagoda. The pollution is bad but it makes the sunset weirdly beautiful - Things to do in Hangzhou

View from the top of Leifeng Pagoda. The pollution is bad but it makes the sunset weirdly beautiful.

The new version was built in 2002 with a lift to take you to the top and steps to the bottom where you can see some of the remains of the original pagoda. It offers stunning views over the city and the West Lake.

5) Lingyin Temple and The Carved Buddhas

You’ll need to get a bus or taxi here as it’s not in the centre. Nevertheless, it’s well worth a visit as there are there are two other attractions in the area near Lingyin Temple.

After you pay your initial entrance fee, you will walk into the area and be greeted by many different depictions of Buddha carved into the stone. They are all varying shapes and sizes and English descriptions can offer details about each one.

The carved Buddhas were one of my favourite parts of visiting this area - Things to do in Hangzhou

The carved Buddhas were one of my favourite parts of visiting this area.

Then there is Lingyin Temple itself. You’ll find many locals and Chinese tourists here lighting incense and saying a prayer as it’s one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country. The smell of incense wafts up your nose as you enter and you feel a sense of spirituality and tranquillity, which is often hard to find in the bustling city.

After wandering around the temple, take your final stop at the viewpoint. You can take some very old and shabby looking cable cars up to the top. At the top you’ll be greeted with an amazing view across the city (if it’s a clear day), and will be one of the rewarding things to do in Hangzhou.

6) Qīnghéfāng Old Street

Market stalls, shops, and an array of places to eat make Qīnghéfāng street a delight. A perfect place to buy some souvenirs and try some of the famous local tea.

7) Gongchen Bridge and The Grand Canal

In the north of the city lies Gongchen Bridge: a spectacular stone walkway which stretches over the Grand Canal. Cafes and restaurants run along the canal and offer a picturesque view of the bridge in exchange for a meal, a beer, or a coffee.

The Grand Canal and Gongchen Bridge - things do to in Hangzhou

The Grand Canal and Gongchen Bridge.

My one piece of advice if you visit is to take the water bus. You can hop on near Wulin Square and sail all the way to Gongchen Bridge. It takes a leisurely 15-20 minutes.

8) Eat at Grandma’s Kitchen

Other Chinese cities have the famous Grandma’s Kitchen, but it originated in Hangzhou. Offering lots of local dishes, it’s a popular spot for Hangzhou people and tourists alike.

You’ll need to go early or late to avoid waiting for a table, but there are numerous Grandma’s Kitchens around the city. Even if you do end up waiting for a table, it’s totally worth it. In true Chinese style, order lots of dishes and try a bit of everything.

9) Shengli River Food Street

Shengli River food street is a bit out of town, but this lovely street runs along one of the many canals in the north of the city. It’s not a massively touristy street so you’ll need a Mandarin speaking friend or some knowledge of Chinese to order food.

Shengli River Food Street illuminates at night - Things to do in Hangzhou

Shengli River Food Street illuminates at night.

The food on Shengli River food street is delicious. There are an array of food eateries and if you go at night you’ll be greeted with lanterns and a vibrant atmosphere.

10) A Night Out in Hangzhou

If you’re up for partying, there are a few bars and nightclubs to check out. If you fancy some live music and imported beers, Eudora is the place to be.

With a rooftop bar and outdoor seating downstairs too, it’s perfect for the summer months, while the inside is cosy and warm in the winter. The regular band are pretty good and get the crowd going.

If you want a truly authentic Chinese night out, then you’ll need to head to KTV. These are all over China and they are in a plethora of locations in Hangzhou.

KTV is a karaoke bar but not how Westerners might imagine a karaoke bar to be. You pay for a private, soundproofed room for a given amount of hours. You can order food and drink to the room. Then, you sing, drink, and eat to your heart’s content all night long.

There are so many other great attractions in Hangzhou. I’d recommend spending about a week in the city to see everything. If it’s your first time in China, you might feel a slight culture shock. However, Hangzhou is the perfect city for a blend of spectacular scenery, delicious food, and a bustling city atmosphere.

Need accommodation in Hangzhou? Book here with Booking.com or Agoda.com

We hope you enjoyed this list of the top 10 things to do in Hangzhou, China! Have you been? What would you recommend? Leave a comment below and tell us.

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Helen Anglin

Helen lived in Hangzhou for ten months teaching English. Her passion for adventure means she is now travelling around Mexico while she works remotely for UK-based digital marketing company. She created the Bristolian Backpacker to document her travels and share her thoughts while on the road.

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