Where is Heaven on Earth?
Hangzhou,at the West Lake.
Even Marco Polo agreed with this.
The scenic lake is the perfect weekend get-away when you are tired from all the skyscrapers of Shanghai (1h by train from Shanghai to Hangzhou) and you just need some time in nature.
[bctt tweet=”Hangzhou, Heaven on Earth in China. The perfect weekend getaway for expats in Shanghai =)”]
Well Chinese understanding of nature 😉
There is a path all the way around the lake and you can hop into many attractions along the way. From caves, to temples, pagodas and gardens of all kind, there is something for everybody.
Just take enough money with you, all the small entry fees can add up pretty quickly 😉
I’ve been in Hangzhou just this weekend. And well what can I say, weather was a Bitch -.-
But first some facts for you guys. Most of the Hostels are at the south-west side off the lake. Just a couple of places are actually in the city. Which is a bit stupid if you are looking for fun nightlife. But hey worst case you get a taxi,
not like these are very expensive…for 30 RMB you should be able to reach every club from your Hostel.
Most of the sights are around the West Lake and all are in walking distance and you can rent bikes everywhere.
If you sign up for the government bikes, which you find everywhere, you can drive around the lake for just 1Rmb per hour! (You have to get a card with 100 Rmb Balance and pay another 200 Rmb deposit, later when you leave you give back the card and get your deposit and rest balance back.)
Did we rent bikes??? We wanted to, but Saturday it was raining cats and dogs, not just a slight drizzling, no it was pouring down water. So our trip to the Tea Fields and Waterfall literally fell into the water.
But it is still worth visiting…it is a 7 stories high Pagoda, from which you have an awesome view over the whole river (not lake, that is another one) and it is definitely not so touristy, great to get away from the crowds around the west lake.
I would do a tour with the bike to the tea village, drive through the tea fields and mountains until you end at the river…on your way back to the lake
you pass the Pagoda on the way =) The garden is lovely too, don’t miss it , you will find Pagoda sculptures from all across China scattered in the woods.
By the way why am I talking about Tea all the time? Well because Hangzhou is one of the places where you can get excellent green tea. There are over 100 tea houses scattered around the city (ask for the prices first before you order, usually the visit will cost 80-200Rmb per person).
You also can just buy some tea for yourself, but the Longjing Tea will probably be a bit more expensive when you buy it in Hangzhou instead of anywhere else in China.
It’s this typical Chinese thinking, instead of making it cheap at the homeplace it comes from, to attract more tourist, they make it more expensive, because the tourists are coming either way because of it, so might as well earn some more money xD
Well after the Pagoda we didn’t go to the lake, but to the old city and I wouldn’t want to miss it. It is an adorably cute area and they have a food street with all kinds of typical Chinese snacks. As a major foodie I was in my personal heaven.
Otherwise this is the place where you want to get your souvenir shopping done 😉
When we arrived there my shoes finally gave up and I started to get wet feet. So I bought myself a new pair of boots for 30 Rmb.
It was just 2 pm and I didn’t think about giving up yet. While my friends headed back to the Hostel I went into direction lake equipped with my new umbrella and shoes.
Actually the whole scenery turned surreal. Not sure if it was because I was freezing my ass off or because it was simply magical.
Yes I froze, but hell I didn’t even care. I was on a mission and I wanted to see that damned lake, rain or not!
I was like a traveler on my journey home, across rainy plains, crossing bridges along the Su “causeway” (a road going from the south all the way to the north through the lake). Just a wanderer trying to catch the rainy beauty on pictures.
No other people around me.
I loved the ultimate quietness.
This was a test of strength, me against nature and yes I did actually enjoy it. Guess I am a bit of a masochist xD
After coming back from my tour, we switched Hostel. In our first Hostel the Heater died the night before and there was no bloody way of me sleeping in a room without heater if there is snow lying outside.
But our second Hostel had sadly a curfew. So instead of going out we just went to get some food and relaxed. I just warmed up my cold feet and dried all my clothes. It was nice to simply relax and finally get warm again.
Next day we first wanted to go to Anji, but skipped that, because we didn’t really see much of Hangzhou yet and the weather finally got better.
Instead of wasting time on a bus, we went straight to the west side of the lake…”climbed” the Baoshi Hill and went into one of the caves(the free one ;))
Also into the temple at the bottom (which was a bit of disappointment) It was pretty new and “clean” not at all how you would imagine a temple.
After that we just headed to the natural island and direction “Bei” Causeway. There I splurged a bit and got myself a coffee from Costas, well what can I say, Caramel Latte with Popcorn just sounded too yummy to skip.
Also we went into a tiny museum, which was adorable for a stroll. While it was still cold, we still enjoyed the sun.
But we were not the only ones, compared to the day before there were masses of Chinese people, locals and tourists also visiting.
So welcome back to the usual craziness.
Sadly we couldn’t make it back to the old city and headed to the train station instead.
By the way just a little tip.
Hangzhou has an amazing bus system. Buses 4, 318,192 all go to the Zoo, which is the stop from where you can reach most Hostels. Also just ask the locals they can tell you the numbers and then show your map on the bus, until we figured out where we had to get off, there was always somebody nice enough telling us when we had to get off.
Bus fares range from 2-4 Rmb and that way you will see much more of the city. Also you just can hop off when you discover something you like 😉
All in all Hangzhou is the perfect Weekend getaway from Shanghai. Well maybe you prefer going there during the week, fewer people.
But it definitely isn’t the place where you will meet loads of international travelers. So not a city to actually party.
But if you are in need for some fresh air, nice views and relaxation, this is the place you will want to go to 😉
Have a nice day and enjoy the pictures 😉 If you have any questions, just write me a comment^^