Declared by Marco Polo as “the most beautiful and elegant city in the world”, China’s modern city of Hangzhou is the capital city of the Zhejiang province, located a stone’s throw southwest from Shanghai (around 100 kilometres to be precise).
The picturesque Hangzhou is one of the most modern and prosperous cities in China. As one of China’s several ancient capitals, it sits at the southern end of the Grand Canal.
The breathtaking beauty of the areas surrounding West Lake need to be seen to be believed. The stunning historical and cultural sites attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Hangzhou is populated by some 3.9-million residents, of which 2.6-million are permanent residents.
Hangzhou’s climate is humid subtropical with four distinct seasons. The average yearly temperature is around 17 degrees Celsius, with the summer period reaching average temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius.
West Lake covers an area of some 6km aquared and is surrounded by historic pagodas, cultural sites and two causeways across the lake.
Native residents speak a Wu dialect, which differs between regions. Mandarin is also widely spoken, along with English.
The region’s economy is booming, with tea and silk integral components of the region’s success. Medicine, Information Technology, automotive components and electronics also contribute to the economy, with the city tripling its GDP in the past eight years.
Traditionalists will enjoy any of the several museums found in Hangzhou, which display historical Chinese culture. The National Silk Museum offers tourists an insight into the regions amazing feats in the silk market, along with the National Tea Museum which offers a range of historical offerings.
Arguably one of the most crucial parts of a tourist’s travels is local cuisine. Sophisticated presentation, along with elaborate preparation of local specialities culminate to provide tourists with a complete representation of the region’s offerings.
Travel guides offer tours of the region and I would recommend spending at least three days visiting the local sites and scenery, around the West Lake area in particular.
Hangzhou will transform your opinion of China. The pleasant locals and unlimited tourist opportunities will keep even the most seasoned traveller busy.
Hangzhou, China – At a Glance
- Where? Hangzhou is located in China, around 100km south-west of Shanghai.
- Population. Around 3.9-million people.
- Transport. Hangzhou has an international airport, but shuttle buses can be organised from Shanghai.
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