Famed for its natural scenery, Hangzhou and its West Lake (西湖 Xī Hú) have been immortalized by countless poets and artists. The city was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty from 1127 until the Mongol invasion of 1276, during which time the city's population is estimated to have been as high as one million, making it the largest city in the world. Even Marco Polo claimed to have passed through, calling it "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world".
With the gradual silting up of its harbor much of the city's trade and industry passed to nearby Shanghai, but the city still has a bustling population of 1.7 million and ranks as one of China's most popular tourist attractions.
Despite the name, Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH) generally services domestic Chinese flights. There are frequent services to Beijing and Hong Kong, but using Shanghai's domestic Hongqiao or international Pudong airports and connecting by bus or train is also a viable option. International flights are possible. International cities that have service to Hangzhou include Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok, Seoul, and Singapore.
The airport is approximately 45 minutes - one hour away from the city by taxi. A taxi to or from the airport is around Y80-90; on the wayback, you should ask if the driver is willing to take you that far before just jumping in the car with all your bags. A cheaper route would be to buy tickets for the shuttle service (15 RMB) to/from the Xiaoshan Bus ticket office on Tiyuchang Road next to the KFC just west of Wulin Square. The Shangri-La Hotel also has a shuttle service to/from the airport for Y50, inquire within.
Alternatively, if flying into Pudong Airport in Shanghai, there are direct buses to Hangzhou. They leave from the 2nd floor parking lot across from Gate 15 of Pudong Airport, departing every 1.5 hours from 10:30am until 5:00pm. It costs Y100 (Summer 2005 price). These buses arrive at the Hangzhou Yellow Dragon Sports Center (soccer stadium).
A train from Shanghai is the easiest way to get to Hangzhou. Frequent trains run from Shanghai Zhan (Main) Railway station and from the new Shanghai South Station, both on Metro line 1. Check the train schedule for the duration of the trip as some trains are considerably faster than others. In general, the train will take between 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, but "local" trains can take over 3 hours. Also, it is better to arrive in Hangzhou at the main Hangzhou station, rather than the East Hangzhou Railway station as the main station is right in town.
In addition to Shanghai, Hangzhou Train Station serves trains from Guangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, and everywhere in between. For destinations further away, such as Kunming and Urumqi, you would first want to go to Shanghai or some halfway-point train station. There is an East Train Station as well, but it is not a very nice part of town. Recently there is a new train started which takes 2 hours from Hangzhou to Shanghai and its quite convenient. - Utkarsh
Hangzhou has 4 bus stations (N, E, W, and S). Usually, your destination corresponds to the bus station, eg if you are going to Shanghai, try the north or east bus station. If you are going to Huangshan, buses leave from the West Bus Station, etc.
For travel to or from Shanghai, the bus has become at times more convenient than the train, as it can be more comfortable if only hard seater train tickets exist, and the buses depart more frequently than trains. From Shanghai, buses depart from the north bus station (Hengfen Lu), the PuDong bus station (Bailianjing, PuDong Nan Lu), and from Xujiahui Bus Station, ticket cost Y58 (Dec. 2005 price). These buses arrive at the north bus station of Hanzhou.
There are overnight boats to Wuxi and Suzhou along the Hangzhou-Beijing Grand Canal. Tickets can be purchased at the wharf ticket window one block north of Wulin Square (208 Huancheng North Road). The mid-range and upper level tickets are worth the splurge (tickets are between 70 and 130 renminbi). Bear in mind that the overnight voyage is mostly in darkness, so don't expect much scenery.
Hangzhou has an extensive bus network, but you must be able to read Chinese to ride the crowded buses with ease. However, any bus that has a "Y" before the bus number (Y2, Y5, etc) are always "youke" - tourist buses, and are guaranteed to take you to a tourist site for ¥3 - ¥5. Therefore, if you want to just ride Y buses around all day, you will save money and still see the sites without having to tell the taxi drivers where you want to go in Chinese.
Otherwise, a bus with just a number will cost you ¥1, and a bus with a "K" before the number (air conditioned) is ¥2. Night buses are usually ¥2.5. Don't take those prices as regular, since buses in Hangzhou are operated by different companies, which means different prices. But even if you don't understand Chinese, don't worry about this, since the fare is written at the bus line station, so you can prepare your coins in advance. (Better have the exact fare, because they don't give change money). You can also give them the 1 RMB-bill instead of some coins, even when the system says "just coins". Payage is directly with the driver, buses in Hangzhou don't have a salesperson inside as they have in Shanghai.
Like most major world cities, Hangzhou has a large number of taxis which allow for quick and convenient travel within the city proper. Most of the city's taxis are green in color and easily identifiable by the word "Taxi" printed in both English and Chinese on the vehicles. Taxis for hire are marked by the green (or sometimes yellow-orange) light-up signs above the dashboard on each car.
Hangzhou taxi drivers always use the meter as required by law. All routes under four kilometers are charged a flat rate of 11 RMB (addition of a 1 RMB gas increase mandated by the government as of August 1, 2006). There is no time-cost in Hangzhou for the taxis; it's just for the distance. It is advisable to take a receipt each time use you a taxi, should you wish to contact the taxi company or driver at later time to dispute a fee, recover a lost article, etc.
Few, if any, of they city's taxi drivers speak English or other foreign languages. It is therefore important that you be able to point out your destination on map, present the driver with the name of the destination (in written Chinese), or properly pronounce the name of the destination in spoken Mandarin Chinese. If you have a Chinese acquaintance whom you can reach by cell phone, you can allow him or her to speak to your driver through the phone to convey the desired information.
Hangzhou taxis are not allowed to carry more than four passengers, although you may be able to convince or bribe a driver to allow you to "hide" an extra passenger in the backseat. This can be worth if the trouble or expense if it saves your group from needing to take two taxis.
Taxis, like all public transportation, are difficult to come by during the tourist weeks (Chinese New Year, May Golden Week, and October National Week); also, taxis between 7:30 and 8:45am and 5:30-7:00pm are difficult to flag, as they are always full or in the middle of a shift change. A good rule of thumb is that if you need a taxi, there won't be any, but if you don't need one, they will be driving extremely slow in the right lane disrupting traffic and honking and flashing their brights at you. Being familiar with areas that taxis frequent or places where taxi passengers are likely to be dropped off at will aid you in finding a ride.
Line 1 is scheduled to be completed in 2008, and line 2 shortly thereafter; a total of 8 lines covering over 200km have been planned. The opening dates of the lines are "last", it means they can open earlier in case they pass the security checks quicker. For example, Nanjing's new subway system was opened ahead-of-time, after safety checks were passed, and the same happened in Shanghai. Don't be surprised to take the subway as early as 2007.
By "water bus"
This ferry down the Grand Canal takes 30 minutes but only makes 4 trips per day, the first at 7:30am and the last at 6:00pm. It starts at Wulin Gate/West Lake Culture Plaza and ends at Gongchen Bridge, with one stop at Xingyifang Grand Canal Culture Plaza. Cost is 3 RMB. While rarely worth taking the trip, Hangzhou now has plans to connect a series of canals and streams throughout the city with the Grand Canal, West Lake, Yuhang River, and Qiantang River, making for increased water transport and a Venetian feel. When this will be completed (if it even happens) is anyone's guess.
By "water bus"
For just getting to the islands on West Lake, you get to choose between tourist trap Dragon or "Gaily-painted" pleasure boats (¥45 and ¥35). There are also medium-sized power boats (¥25), or for ¥160 you can hire a driver to paddle you around for about an hour. The boats are available in Hubin #X (1, 3, 6) parks and other obviously marked areas all over the lake.
Buy maps near the Train Station or Bus Station from street vendors or stalls when you arrive. Price is often marked on the maps themselves, if you are wondering how much to pay (under 10 RMB -- well worth it and hard to find maps elsewhere in town!). Street-bought maps are usually written in simplified Chinese with no pinyin. You can find pinyin maps at foreign language bookstores.
There is a useful 'what's on' magazine called More Hangzhou that has a good pull-out map in Chinese and English. The magazine is free and can be found in many hotels and bars.
West Lake (西湖 Xī Hú)
Hangzhou's most famous scenic sight. Technically, there are "10 Scenes of the West Lake" and "10 New Scenes," but they are overrated, and often seasonal (Snowfall Over Broken Bridge, etc). Rather than make a checklist and walking back and forth looking for them, simply spend a clear day wandering the circumference of the lake and the causeways, take a ferry to the islands, and you will probably cover most of the sites anyway. The "West Lake" itself can be divided into countless smaller sites, from Mr. Guo's villa to "Orioles Singing in the Willows".
The "West Lake Scenic Area" itself is very large. This section only covers areas in the immediate vicinity of the lake. Other spots are covered in later sections.
Lesser Yingzhou Isle (Three Pools Mirroring the Moon) "Built" in the early 1600s, this is the largest island on the lake. When there is a full moon, candles inside the pagodas are lit, and in the candle light it appears as though you see the moonlight (if you are romantic enough to see it). Hence the name.
Mid-Lake Pavilion From 1552, it is the oldest island. There is a Chinese inscription on the Qing Dynasty-era stone arch in which the Qing Emperor wrote "Chong Er", or "Enless Love".
Lord Ruan's Mound This is a mound they made from piling up dirt after dredging the lake 200 years ago. However, it is not just a dirt mound. At night (summer), entertainment activities are going on in the garden on the island.
Hubin #X Park Hubin Parks 1, 3, 6 and probably the numbers in between are the parks between Hubin Road and the West Lake. Relatively newly-designed as the West Lake Tunnel that goes underneath was being built in early 2004, these parks are good to sit for a bit, buy ice cream or a newspaper, and most importantly hire a boat from the cluster of boat docks at each park.
Su Causeway Almost 3km long, this causeway dates from the year 1189 and has a bunch of willows and peach trees. It is long north-south causeway that starts by the Shangri-La on Beishan Road and goes all the way down to Nanshan Road.
Bai Causeway Starting at the eastern end of Beishan Road, this cause way leads to Solitary Hill and cuts off the distances between, say, Hubin Road and the Shangri La.
Solidary Hill And Zhongshan Park Where Loud Wai Lou restaurant is located, this is the only natural island on the lake. At least 3 emperor's constructed palaces here. Besides an expensive restaurant, the popular area is the home of the Xiling Seal-Engravers' Society, and the seals, calligraphy, engraving-masters, and relics that go along with it.
Yang Causeway This one is more than 3km long and one road west of the Su Causeway. It starts at the intersection of Beishan and Shuguang Road (which becomes Yang Causeway once you are south of this intersection); the causeway runs north-south. Yang Causeway includes Quyuan Garden (aka Qu Garden aka Qu Courtyard), which is the most popular spot to see tons of lotus blossoms (late spring > summer). The water area to the west of the top of Yang Causeway is Maojiabu Scenic area, with orchids blended into the water scenery. Another tourist spot on Yang Causeway is Mr. Guo's Villa, is was built in 1907 and is considered one of the most "classical" gardens in Hangzhou. At the southern end of the causeway, just before Nanshan Road, is a fish-viewing pond.
King Qian's Memorial (Qian Wang Ci) 5 kings of the Wuyue Kingdom are buried here in this memorial on the south end of the lake off Nanshan Road.
Wushan Square (吴山广场 Wu Shan Guang Chang) Wushan Square and Wushan Hill is a major town center in Hangzhou. The view from the top is excellent on a clear day, and there are also trails around the hills from behind the pagoda. The pagoda itself has been modernized with an elevator and nice open-air teahouse at the top, but the original bell is still intact and in use. This area also features easy access to Hefang Jie shopping street at the base of the hill, full of small pedestrian streets and shopping stalls. It is also extremely close to the West Lake itself.
Jade Emperor Hill (玉皇山公园 Yuhuang Shan Gong Yuan) One of the least-visited sites in Hangzou despite its somewhat central location, this hill does not feature any prominent pagodas or temples, but can still provide a quiet escape and a nice walk. It is located directly south of Leifeng Pagoda. If you are playing along with the "10 Scenes of the West Lake" scavenger hunt still, the one that applies to the top of this hill is "clouds flying over Jade Emperor Hill".
Temples and pagodas
Six Harmonies Pagoda (六和塔 Liùhé Tǎ). Down by the Qiantang River, about a 15 minute cab ride from the lake in light traffic, but it is a pretty road to drive down through all the tunnels and tea fields. Besides the pagoda itself, which is arguable the most prominent of all the temples and pagodas in Hangzhou, there is an adjacent park with hundreds of realistic replicas of the world's most famous pagodas, complete with mini-sized trees in front of the pagoda models.
Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺 Língyǐn Sì) Meaning "heart of the soul's retreat", this temple west of the West Lake is an active Buddhist temple at the bottom of a hill. Nearby you can take a chairlift to the top of the hill where there is another temple (walking up is also an easy set of stairs below the chairlift). This is one of the 3 oldest and most famous temples in China. There are hundreds of Buddhist stone statues carved into the cliffs in the "Peak Flying from Afar" section next door.
Leifeng Pagoda Located on the shores of the southeast side of the lake and originally built in the year 977, all that remains of the original pagoda is the crumbling foundation, viewable from outside the glass case that it is housed in (Pagoda Remains Memorial Museum at the bottom floor of the pagoda). With escalators, elevators, and a totally new pagoda places on top of the foundation, there is not much to see within the pagoda itself; it was most recently rebuilt in 2000. However, the view of the city skyline is one of the best from here, and some of the smaller seating areas around the perimeter of the pagoda have a nice breeze and view of the structure. One of the 10 Scenes of the West Lake is "Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow", but this is best viewed from a distance (across the lake) just after sunset. Keep in mind that the entry fee for the Leifeng Pagoda is very expensive (40 RMB/person, Dec 2005) and it's not original, just rebuilt, so if your budget is not that huge, consider to not enter the Pagoda. You can still take pictures in front of it.
Baochu Pagoda (保俶塔 Bǎochù Tǎ) and the surrounding temples on this hill on the north side of the lake. You cannot climb the pagoda, but the view and surrounding Baoshi Hill are awesome.
Jingci Temple Off Nanshan Road, built in 954, this has a huge 10-ton bell inside. Located on Nanping Road, they ring the bell 108 times here to ring in Chinese New Year. It is also rung every evening for much fewer times.
Gardens, forests, nature
Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea Fields (龙井茶园 Long Jing Cha Yuan) and other tea fields further west. These are best visited during the harvest period, usually from the first week of March till after May Holiday, when everyone is out in the field picking tea and the tea that you can purchase is of the best quality (tea crops from later in the year have had their leaves damaged by the rain).
Guo's Villa (Guo Zhuang) is the best existing traditional private garden in Hangzhou. It is one of the garden masterpieces of Jiangnan (the lower region of the Yangtze River) thanks to its incomparable surroundings and the smartly managed garden space. The garden develops as you enter further into it with regular switches between tight, closed spaces and sudden, open ones. The key feature, or spirit, is water. Cleaverly juxtaposing shade and light, curved and straight, yin and yang, the garden of Guo Zhuang is a wonderful embodiment of the Chinese wisdom of Tao and the Way of Nature. The teahouse, Liang Yi Xuan (Belevedere of Both Good) sits in a prime viewing sopt within the garden between two superb water "yards", one large and the other small. While there are plenty of "old villas" in China to visit-- and many are similar-- this one is also on the shore of the West Lake. The 10 yuan entry fee keeps many people away, and you can have some tea (40 yuan) on the lakeside pavilions of the villa while avoiding the tourists.
Hangzhou Botanical Gardens (植物园 Zhi Wu Yuan) and flower nursery as well nearby. If you can't make it to Suzhou, these gardens aren't bad, especially in the spring and during the brief period when the leaves change in the fall. There is also a peacock farm, some nice ponds, and basically a wide range of plants and ecosystems to walk through. The redwood tree that Nixon donated during his visit has since died (in 2001).
Xixi National Wetlands Park Opened in May 2005, this wetlands park is located in the extreme west part of the city past the west bus station. One of the easiest ways to get there would be to take a bus from Huanglong Soccer Stadium. While it may be somewhat out of the way and the road signs have the English translation as an uninviting "Xixi Swamp", this area is not to be missed, as currently the tourists are not too many, and it is a great way to see birds and other wildlife. The birds are especially beautiful and varied.
Dreaming of the Tiger Spring (虎跑梦泉 Hǔpǎomèngquán) is a spring as well as a scenic and historic destination. The area includes wooded pathways, streams, bamboo groves, tea houses, historic structures, as well as the spring itself and other sights. Admission is ¥15. Tea brewed with the high-quality Tiger Spring water may be purchased for about ¥20 a glass.
Hangzhou Zoo (杭州动物园 Hángzhōu Dòngwùyuán) It has pandas and everything and is conveniently located just south of the lake, but it is not recommended to visit most zoos in China, as the animals are exploited and treated poorly (generally speaking). At least stay away from the dog exhibit. This zoo is definitely one of the worst ones in China. Besides a few animals which have good cages (mostly water-animals) it has terrible conditions for the Panda, most Bears and other larger animals like the Elephants. Still, they made improvements compared to a few years ago, and it seems it's mostly the missing support of larger investments that seems to hinder further development in a better zoo. The entrance fee includes a circus-style animal show with tigers, lions, bears and elephants that is particularly entertaining for children (if a little depressing for adults).
Lesser panda in Hangzhou Zoo
On the northern side of Baochu hill near the soccer stadium is Huanglong Cave (For "Scenes of The West Lake", this cave covers "Yellow Dragon Cave Dressed in Green").
Early morning bikeride Start on the north side of the lake, and head west towards Zhejiang University, then down Lingyin Road past the Botanical Gardens and into Longjing Village. Keep heading West and south through the tea villages, bamboo forest, and scenic valleys to the river and cut over towards Six Harmonies Pagoda. Go back to the south end of the lake via the road right next to Six Harmonies, past the zoo, through the tunnels.
Walk around the lake You can also hire small non-motor powered boats (¥80/hour for personal boat with driver, or use the ferry services) to take you around the lake and to the two islands, which feature some interesting sites.
Visit the temples and pagodas The most popular ones are Baochu pagoda, which is the tower-like one on a hill on the north side of the lake. This hill is a great hike, with excellent views of the lake and city, several smaller temples of a variety of religions, and Huanglong Cave on the northern slope of the hill. 6 Harmonies Pagoda, located on the river, is the largest and most imposing. A fun hike after the pagoda leads from the shores of the river, behind the pagoda, and into the Longjing tea fields near the tea museum. Lingyin Temple, on the west side of the lake, is also a large complex with a surprisingly devout crowd of worshipers. This area also has many excellent hikes, as well as a cable car to the top of Beifeng Hill (with another temple at the top). Finally, Leifeng Pagoda has recently been rebuilt and has escalators and elevators, while all that remains of the foundation is on display on the main level. Despite its lack of ancient Chinese beauty, the benches and gazebo-like structures surrounding the area make for a nice place to sit in the breeze, and it also has an excellent view looking in the opposite direction as the Baochu area.
Spend an afternoon at a tea house A highlight of visiting Hangzhou is getting out to Manjuelong Village, (South of the lake on top of the hill) Longjin Village or Meijiawu Village, (west and further west of the Lake, respectively) to drink your tea. These villages have had a make-over in the last 2 or 3 years and while can be busy at weekends they are still great places to while away an afternoon watching the tea being picked. The tea houses all serve very local food - pickled vegetables, chicken broth etc - but often there is no menu; rather the owner will suggest what you should eat. Make sure you get a price for the dishes before you tuck in.
Shopping -- see the "Buy" section for more info.
The West Lake Golf Club near Six Harmonies Pagoda and Songcheng was designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Boating along the Hangzhou-Beijing Canal is becoming more popular.
Zhejiang University, Yuquan Campus, . This university is the product of combining four formerly individual universities: Zhejiang University, Hangzhou University, Zhejiang Agricultural University and Zhejiang Medical University. The university offers 110 undergraduate, 264 masters and 181 doctoral degree areas. Tuition is extremely affordable from a Western perspective. Courses in Chinese language and culture are ¥18,000 (~$2,250 USD) a year, ¥9,000 a term, or ¥800 (~$100 USD) a week and are taught mostly in Chinese (with occasional English).
English Corner, an informal gathering of Chinese interested in learning English and English-speaking foreigners every Sunday morning. It is located in the park on the northeastern shore of West Lake by the Korean War Memorial (a statue of a soldier with a long, flowing overcoat).
Silk Market on Tiyuchang Road. You can also get silk at other places in the city, but most of it will just be the fabric.
Night market off Yan'an Road near Pinghai Road (right near Wushan) every night. Here you can find Mao memorabilia, jewelry, paper fans, pipes, luggage, handicrafts and other items that most Chinese cities have. Pirated DVDs and counterfeit handbags are for sale as well. You can also find a lot of those silk-screen printed paintings/embroidery things that the silk market also has. Bargain very hard - if you do not speak Chinese, the opening price for an article could be up to 3 times what the seller will accept. If you are with a Hangzhou person, opening prices will be only 50% more than seller will accept. Many stalls sell the same stuff, so be prepared to walk away. As with the rest of China bargaining follows protocol; smiles, jokes, and flattery will get you further. be careful buying "antiques" because they are probably new, and pearls. Often the pearl culturing process has been very short, and in fact the "pearl" is a plastic marble with only the thinnest of cultured skin.
Electronics Markets. Running west-east in north-west Hangzhou on Wensan Road are several an indoor, multistory electronics shopping centers offering all manner of electronics including desktop computers, laptops, computer software (licensed and un-licensed), cellphones, mp3 players, and hundreds of peripherals and storage media. Pirated DVDs and computer games are offered as well, and if you are obviously a foreigner, vendors will shout "DVD! DVD!" at you to urge you to browse their selection.
Bird and Flower Markets. Several in town, Gucui Rd and Wener West Rd in the west, another on Jichang Rd in north, the interesting one is next to Wushan Square, downtown. On 3 or 4 floors, this market is stuffed with pets and plants. Also sections selling Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with dried snake and seahorse, huge dried mushrooms and other strange things.
Tea Dragon Well/Longjing tea is famous throughout China and worth getting if you like green tea. If you are staying with a Chinese host somewhere else in China after Hangzhou, bringing them a small box (or two) of higher-end Longjing Tea would make a great gift; however, bear in mind that these usually cost around ¥300/box (more at tourist stands). The Longjing village and tea fields area of Hangzhou (southwest of West Lake) is where Longjing tea is grown. Besides being worth a visit for the scenic sights alone, tea can be purchased here as well - fresh from the harvesters' bags if so desired. Many places across the city also sell tea, such as informal vendors and small shops easily identifiable by the boxes displayed inside or store names such as "西湖龙井茶" (West Lake Dragon Well Tea), as well as grocery stores and supermarket chains. Because of the fame of Longjing tea, fake and low-grade varieties exist. If you have no experience buying tea, purchase from a reputable-looking establishment or ask the advise of a knowledgeable native.
Clothes Hangzhou has literally hundreds of clothes and shoes stores. The largest concentration of these are on Yan'an Rd and especially Wulin Rd, making a straight line of clothes shops stacked on top of each other between Wushan and Wulin Squares. Another popular clothing spot is "Song Mu Chang" (松木场) just north of the lake on Shuguang Road. All of these places require bargaining and often have a lot of fake ripoff clothes. For the real thing, try the department stores (ie Hangzhou Tower across between Yan'an and Nanshan Roads). You can certainly find cheaper clothes stores scattered throughout the city as you get farther from the lake if you really like to buy clothes.
Landscape paintings There are several places to buy Chinese landscape paintings in the city, especially near Wushan Square and around the south/east side of the lake.
Groceries can usually be found without having to go far - hundreds of small grocery stores, convenience stores, and fruit and meat markets are scattered across Hangzhou. Use your own best judgment when deciding if the food sold at such places is sanitary enough for consumption.
Carrefour have a supermarket in the downtown area east of West Lake. In addition its large selection of groceries, it carries a wider variety of Western foods such as cheeses and bread than most other locations in the city.
Trust-Mart (好又多) is a superstore chain Westerners may recognize as being similar to Wal-Mart. Located in the shopping center near the Yellow Dragon Sports Stadium north of West Lake and the Baochu Pagoda area, the store has a large grocery section that boasts fresh meats, seafood, and produce as well as the normal selection of packaged food.
Bicycles of low to medium quality are available from small bike shops scattered across Hangzhou. The indoor Electric Bike Market near the corner of Wener and Xueyuan Lu offers a huge assortment of electric bikes/scooters and batteries, and Trust-Mart (see above) also has a reasonable selection of bicycles and a small selection of electric bikes/scooters.
Hangzhou is one of the premier places to eat in China, and its food consists more of pork and seafood rather than the beef and lamb of the north and west. If you do not like Hangzhou food, you can find plenty of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Xinjiang restaurants throughout the city. Typical Hangzhou specialties include dongpo rou, an extremely fatty chunk of pork in a syrupy sauce, and cuyu, which is fish with a vinegar sauce.
For budget restaurants, even near the lake, just head into an alley and get some food from a small restaurant or street-side stand. You should judge for yourself how sanitary the food is, but Hangzhou is generally fairly civilized in this respect relative to other Chinese cities. These restaurants are all quite similar.
If you like dumplings and have just come down the north side of Baochu hill (past the cave and in view of the soccer stadium), one option is to continue across Shuguang Road and up Hangda Road (0.5 blocks east and 1 block north) to Tianmushan Road. At the corner of Tianmushan and Hangda Roads are 2 decent dumpling restaurants with English menus available (one is upstairs from the other). They have many of varieties of dumplings, including all-vegetable.
Hangzhou has many KFCs, several McDonalds, and an increasing number of Pizza Huts throughout town, especially near the lake.
Other restaurants that are good and aren't as tourist-trappy can as Lou Wai Lou are located near the West Lake, usually to the East past Hubin Road in the Yan'an Road area.
For Xinjiang, try the restaurant inside Tiandu Hotel on Zhongshan Bei Road near Wulin Square. The Xinjiang restaurant on the 5th floor of Sanrui Tower (三瑞大厦) is better and more authentic, but more out of the way as well.
Chuan Wei Guan. For Hot Pot, this city-wide chain (5 restaurants throughout town) is best, and this hotpot place also has several good Sichuan dishes.
Grandma's Kitchen (外婆家) has at least 5 locations in Hangzhou, including one on Yugu Road near the soccer stadium and Zhejiang University. It has efficient service, a comprehensive picture menu, and is popular among just about everyone.
Paradise Cafe, Hubin Road. "American" food including the best burgers in town (besides the Hyatt, arguably) are at Paradise Cafe. It has nice outdoor/patio seating on the 3rd floor with a large tree overhanging and a great view of the lake and the tourists below. With bacon and cheese, a burger will run around Y50. You can find most other Western food in the hotels.
Zhang Sheng Ji (张生记), 33 East Qingchun Road. Out of the way but is also huge and now has branches all over China.
Lou Wai Lou (楼外楼), right on the lake on an island off Beishan Road. The most famous restaurant in Hangzhou. Lou Wai Lou also has a second establishment called "Shan Wai Shan" right on the Botanical Gardens.
Oriental Favorites Restaurant, Beishan Road (just past the Broken Bridge). A good replacement for Lou Wai Lou and has an equally good view with slightly cheaper prices (but it's still expensive).
Hubin 28, Hyatt Hotel, 28 Hubin Road. One of the top Chinese restaurants in Hangzhou. Hubin 28 serves good food from all over China in a restaurant designed with a mixture of modern fittings and traditional furniture. It has received good reviews in many foodie magazines in Hong Kong. Dinner will cost more than RMB200 per person.
There are lots of Japanese restaurants, many of which offer the "all you can eat and drink" deal for between 120 and 200 renminbi, which is a good deal when you consider the Sake and plum wine are included, and is a good way to start off a weekend night.
Fu Gang, Tiyuchang Road (near Wulin Square). Hangzhou's most famous Japanese restaurant, although it does not offer an all-you-can-eat deal. It does have a sushi train and set meals though.
Mu Zhi Lan, Nanshan Rd (next to the Bernini coffee shop). One of the best, especially location-wise. The all-you-can-eat deal is around Y180, but the seating and views are excellent, as is the food.
Nagomi, basement, Ramada Hotel, Qingchun Road. The Japanese owner aims to have the most authentic food in Hangzhou. Nagomi's specialties are sashimi, tempura and beef sukiyaki
Banana Leaf, Changsheng Rd (2 junctions north of the Hyatt on the east side of the lake). South-East Asian. Reservations are recommended on weekends. Although there is a pleasant atmosphere and good quality food, many customers find that the food is untraditional.
Curry Bistro, Wangtang Rd (just south of Wenyi Road, near the Wumei shopping center) is a small family run restaurant specialising in Hong Kong and Thai food.
Caribbean BBQ, Yan'an Road (near Wushan Square). It is not very authentic, but is a buffet-style restaurant that will probably at least leave you with a full stomach.
Peppino, Shangri-La Hotel. Expensive but does have an authentic brick oven, great bread, and huge calzones.
L96 Guangxian Cafe, Pingfeng Rd, (east of Zhongshan Zhong Rd), is a small restaurant in modern atmosphere serving well-prepared Italian food and home-made ice-creams
Café at the Hyatt, Hyatt Hotel, 28 Hubin Road. Opened January 2005, the buffet here has everything you could ever want for about Y148++ lunch and Y198++ dinner with no drinks.
Va Bene, West Lake Tiandi (西湖天地), serves good, but pricey, Italian food in comfortable setting. Good wine list and good service. The little sister restaurant downstairs, Pizza Pazza has many of the same dishes in a more deli-style restaurant for a little less money.
Haveli, 77 Nanshan Rd . Excellent Indian food, though not cheap. Indoor and outdoor dining.
Indian Kitchen, 63 Nanshan Road, All you can eat/all you can drink buffet on Saturday & Sunday nights. ¥78, excellent service & excellent food.
The drink of choice in Hangzhou is tea, as the local Longjing (龙井, also Lung Ching, literally "Dragon Well") is the most famous green tea in China. Longjing is divided into seven grades, the two top being Superior (旗枪 qiqiang) and Special (雀舌 queshe), and the rest numbered from 1 down to 5. Prices for the very best stuff go into the stratosphere — in 2005, a mere 100g plucked from Qing Dynasty emperor Qian Long's personal trees sold for over US$17,000 — but a few cups in a local teahouse shouldn't cost you more than a few dozen yuan.
Traditionally, tea from Longjing is best served with spring water from Hupao (虎跑, "Tiger Run"), which is located next to the West Lake. You might have to purchase the tea from the tea shop in Hupao, instead of bringing your own. It's about 20 yuan per cup, but you get a thermal full of hot water with the purchase.
For bars, Nanshan Road all night every night should keep any visitor occupied. An up-and-coming part of town (2007) is on Shuguang Road has several old and new bars that are a little less hectic than those of Nanshan Road, including age-old Reggae Bar, newly revamped Maya Bar, packed-out local You To, rock music bar Travellers, and many more. Shuguang Road runs north from the north-west corner of the Lake. The Huanglong soccer stadium is full of dance / performance bars around the perimeter of the building.
JZ Club, 6 Liuying Road (Nanshan Road), is one of the most sophisticated in Hangzhou, with live jazz performances every night and a range of beers, cocktails and wines.
Cool Bar on West Lake Ave by Wushan Square has Budweiser for as low as Y5/bottle (the Wushan Square area also has several other bars
Maya Bar, 94 Baishaquan Rd and Shuguang Rd, is a popular expat watering hole with large drinks and simple menu.
1944, Shuguang Rd, comfortable 'pub' with cheap beer and quiet live music.
Reggae Bar, Shuguang Rd, playing reggae music in Hangzhou since 1998, Reggae bar is a favourite small bar
You To, Shuguang Rd, one of the most successful bars in Hangzhou, run by a man who has made several bars popular. You To is busy every day with a local drinking crowd. Loud live music, busy busy atmosphere.
Black & White, Shuguang Rd, is a hip-hop bar that opens late and stays open late.
7 Club, Shuguang Road, small local pub popular with expats a foreign students alike. Normally quieter atmosphere.
Shamrock Irish Pub, Jiefang Rd and Jianguo Rd, more a sports bar, but without the TVs. Good pub food on the menu, some live music.
Kanas, Nanshan Rd, busy at weekends with a dancing drinking crowd, foosball and pool also available
Backsea Bar, Wener West Rd, the central bar for west-siders, with pool and fresh beer
1828, Nanshan Rd, is for homebrew beer and burgers.
Cafes in Hangzhou normally fit a Hangzhou norm and do not always resemble a cafe in the west. Places like Liangan and UBC serve western food, which is pretty inedible to a western palette. Coffee is expensive and usually made over a candle, more for novelty than for good coffee. Some of the more 'international' style cafes are listed here.
Linglong Town, located on Nanshan Road to the west of most of the bars. Has large smoothies that are excellent for hot days. The restaurant also has many types of tea and good-tasting Taiwanese fare.
Jamaica Coffee, in West Lake Tiandi, is owned by a Spanish company and has high quality coffee and tea, some snacks.
Fotoyard, Nanshan Rd and Qianwangci, is managed by a bunch of photographers who are better at photos that managing a cafe, but the pizza is good, the coffee by Illy
Starbucks, Wulin Square / Hangda Rd / Yanan Rd / West Lake Tiandi / Hyatt Hotel / and others.
Hangzhou International Youth Hostel, Nanshan Road (right on the south end of the lake and just off "bar street"). Run by Hosteling International and has a friendly staff. Y40 w/membership, Y50 without membership, per night, 6 people to a room (you can get doubles as well for about Y200, including a lakeview double for Y250). All rooms and toilet/shower are extremely clean. Despite being literally a few paces from the clubs of Nanshan Road, this hostel is set back far enough to be relatively noise free and features a comfortable courtyard/patio with a pond. The lobby also has a boring bar and an all-right breakfast.
Green Tea Youth Hostel, Lingyin Road (near Lingyin Temple). Not affiliated with Hosteling International, this hostel is much quieter and set back in the hills, but the staff is not as helpful. Also, beware that the bar next door, "31 Bar", often has live music during the summer which can make this hostel even louder than the Nanshan Road one.
Hangzhou Garden Youth Hostel opened in 2006 on ZhaoGong Causeway near the Hangzhou Botanic Gardens on the western shore of West Lake. It is part of Hostelling International and consists of a a beautifully restored historic courtyard building. Dorm rooms have very clean, upmarket ensuite bathrooms with 24 hr hot water. The hostel is very convenient for walking and sightseeing around West Lake but its biggest drawback is the distance to restaurants and nightlife. It is a 15 minute walk to the bar/tea house/restaurant strip on Shuguang Road.
You can find mid-range hotels all over the city, most of which will take foreigners. Try to bargain for a room. Ask how much they want for one night's stay, then say "what if I stay for 3 nights?" or something to that extent and it will become cheaper.
SouthLine Hotel (Nanxian Dajiudian), tel. +86-571-8777-3939, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. A small but clean, well-located and reasonably well-appointed mid-range hotel one-half block off the lake and right next to the Zhejiang Art Academy on Nanshan Rd. Prices range from US$40 per night to over $100. The friendly staff speaks some (although limited) English.
Jinhui Hotel (金汇大酒店), 7 Moganshan Road. A large hotel far enough away from the main sites to be a bit cheaper, but close enough to be a quick bike ride/taxi ride or even a 20-30 minute walk to the city side of the lake (all on the same street, just walk due south past the provincial government). One benefit of this hotel is that an English-speaking CYTS office is on the 3rd floor.
Shangri-La while the Hyatt may have better service, especially for business travelers, the Shangri-La has an ideal location, forested grounds, and is essentially a self-contained luxury village; a great place for a holiday.
Radisson right on Wulin Square.
Ramada (Haihua Binguan), Qingchun Road (near the West Lake). Located between Wulin Road and the West Lake, although lake-view rooms are somewhat limited and not very intimate.
Hyatt, Hubin Road (right on the eastern shore of the lake). New and awe-inspiring.
Wang Hu/Lakeside Hotel, Hubin Road, cnr Qingchun Rd, has a great location and fabulous international buffet breakfast.
Huachen-Tang Palace (25. Pinghai Road) is a new four star hotel only 5 minutes walk to the West Lake and with a fabulous international buffet breakfast. Excellent money value. Link