Hangzhou's natural beauty, cultural heritage and sports wow visitors
Half of heaven
Published: May 18, 2023 07:43 PM
Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Tennis Centre, nicknamed

Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Tennis Centre, nicknamed "the Small Lotus" in the background Photo: Cui Meng/GT

In the heart of eastern China lies a destination that captures the imagination and leaves an indelible mark on every visitor. As the Chinese proverb goes: Just as there is heaven above, and there is Suzhou and Hangzhou below. Hangzhou, a city with its rich tapestry of cultural heritage and breathtaking natural beauty, has firmly established itself as a must-visit city for travel enthusiasts.

Boasting three UNESCO World Heritage sites - the West Lake, the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu, and the Grand Canal - Hangzhou, capital city of East China's Zhejiang Province, is a must-visit city for any traveler who wants to have a deep understanding of Chinese culture.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Hangzhou is the West Lake, which is famous for its scenic beauty and cultural significance. 

'The 10 scenes'

The West Lake covers an area of 3,323 hectares and is comprised of multiple scenic areas, including the Sudi Causeway, the Baidi Causeway and the Gushan Hill. 

When Lin'an, today's Hangzhou, was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), the West Lake had been a major attraction for artists: The famous phrase "10 scenes of the West Lake" indeed indicates the titles given to landscape paintings depicting the lake during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). 

The names of the scenes changed from time to time, until Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) contributed to their popularity by composing a poem for each scene, which was engraved on stone tablets. 

Scenes such as "Spring Dawn on the Su Causeway," "Remnant Snow on the Broken Bridge" and "Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon" are still popular in Chinese literature and artistic works nowadays. 

The lake is surrounded by hills and gardens and features several pagodas and temples, including the Leifeng Pagoda and the Lingyin Temple. 

Walking all the way along the Baidi Causeway you will arrive at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, where you can enjoy a half-day tour immersed among artifacts of ancient Chinese calligraphy, paintings, pottery and ceramics. Given the massive popularity of the destination, in order to avoid the crowds of tourists visiting the West Lake, it is not recommended to travel there on weekends or national holidays.

Ancient jade

If you are not satisfied with the exhibits in Gushan, you can also visit the museum's other site in the city: There one can learn about the Liangzhu jade, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in China, or visit another UNESCO World Heritage site in Hangzhou, the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City.

Liangzhu culture dates back to the late Neolithic period (around 3300-2300 BC). 

The site includes the remains of a prehistoric city that is known for its sophisticated jade artifacts, urban planning, and hydraulic engineering. 

Considered one of the most important cultural heritage sites of ancient China, Liangzhu culture is known for its exquisite jade artifacts, which were used in religious ceremonies and burials.

The city was also renowned for its hydraulic engineering, including a complex system of canals and reservoirs that enabled the Liangzhu people to irrigate their crops and manage their water resources.

For tourists who are not into indoor activities, the Xixi National Wetland Park might be an option. 

Visitors to the wetland can explore its natural wonders by taking boat tours or by leisurely strolling along its winding boardwalks and trails. 

The wetland offers a serene escape where one can immerse themselves in the peaceful ambiance, enjoy the view and observe the diverse wildlife that thrives in the area.

On the water

For those seeking adventure, Hangzhou offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and water sports. 

The surrounding hills and countryside are dotted with tea plantations, ancient temples, and scenic trails that offer breathtaking views of the landscape.

Moreover, no trip to Hangzhou would be complete without a visit to the breathtaking Qiandao Lake, also known as the Thousand-Island Lake. 

Located just a short distance from the city, the Qiandao Lake is a man-made wonder that emerged as a result of the construction of the Xin'an River Hydroelectric Station. 

The crystal-clear waters of the lake are studded with countless islands, each with its unique charm and character. Visitors can embark on a boat tour, sail between the islands and witness the beauty of lush greenery and serene waters. 

Whether it's exploring ancient temples on the islands, engaging in water sports, or simply soaking in the tranquility, the Qiandao Lake offers a rejuvenating escape from the city downtown into nature's embrace.

As Hangzhou is preparing to host the Asian Games later in 2023, which will feature over 10,000 athletes and officials from all Asian countries and regions, the city is likely to witness a surge of visitors. The Games will be held from September 23 to October 8. 

Visitors to Hangzhou can also check the schedule of the test events for the Asian Games before these start, thus grabbing the chance to visit the state-of-the-art sports facilities in the city. 

Hangzhou is a city that offers something for everyone - from its natural beauty and cultural heritage to international sporting events. 

Whether you are a history buff, a sports enthusiast, or an adventurer, Hangzhou is a destination that will capture your heart and inspire your imagination.