There are many things to do in Hangzhou and after living in Hangzhou for three years, I think I am qualified to share with you the best things to do here. So, if you want to know what are the best things to do in Hangzhou, then read on…
- Why visit Hangzhou?
- The best things to do in Hangzhou
- West Lake
- Enduring Memories of Hangzhou
- Little Venice
- Little Paris
- Qinghefang Old Street
- Xixi National Wetland Park
- Longing Tea Plantation
- Bamboo Forest
- Xianghu Lake
- Hangzhou Beach
- Chinese National Silk Museum
- Hu Xueyan’s house
- Leifing Pagoda
- Lingyin Temple
- Eight Diagrams Field
- Chenghuang Pavilion
- Marvel at the Hangzhou skyline
- Hangzhou Safari Park
- Crazy Apple Land
- Polar Ocean Park
- The best restaurants in Hangzhou
- The best bars in Hangzhou
- Where to stay in Hangzhou
- Things to do in Hangzhou: To Conclude
Why visit Hangzhou?
Hangzhou is a beautiful city situated in the eastern part of China, known for its scenic beauty and vibrant culture. It is the capital of Zhejiang province and is located near Shanghai and Nanjing. It is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world who are looking for a unique experience. Hangzhou is steeped in history and culture, and there are plenty of things to do in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou is a picturesque city with a landscape of mountains, rivers, lakes, and canals. One of the most popular attractions is the West Lake, which is the largest lake in the city and is surrounded by lush vegetation and beautiful temples. Visitors can take a boat ride around the lake and enjoy the view of the lake and the surrounding hills. They can also visit the Lingyin Temple, one of the oldest temples in the city, or take a stroll along the picturesque Su Causeway.
Hangzhou is also known for its culinary delights. The city is home to some of the best restaurants in the country and offers a wide range of cuisines from Chinese to international. It is also known for its unique local dishes like Hangzhou Fried Rice and Dongpo Pork. Visitors can also enjoy traditional Chinese teas and snacks like Xiaolongbao and Xiaolongxia.
Hangzhou is a great place to shop. It has a range of shopping malls and markets, such as the Hangzhou International Trade Centre and the Yalong Shopping Mall. Here, visitors can find a variety of items ranging from clothes and accessories to home furnishings. There are also numerous street vendors where visitors can buy souvenirs, snacks, and other items.
Hangzhou is a great destination for a memorable holiday and there are lots of things to do in Hangzhou. It offers a myriad of attractions, from its natural beauty to its vibrant culture, and its culinary delights to its shopping opportunities. Hangzhou is a great place to visit and enjoy a unique experience.
The best things to do in Hangzhou
There are several key things to do in Hangzhou. I have outlined the best for you below.
This is one of the most iconic things do in Hangzhou. The lake is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is absolutely beautiful – and very deserving of this designation. The West Lake provides amazing views of the city, and there are hand-paddled boats which are so much fun to experience.
This is a freshwater lake divided into five sections with three causeways. The lake has pagodas, temples, gardens and even artificial islands. For those looking for a romantic spot or if you are particularly interested in photography, visiting the West Lake at sunrise or sunset is an amazing way to spend some time.
No matter what time of year it is, this is easily one of the most incredible things to do in Hangzhou. The lake has influenced painters and poets throughout Chinese history, simply for it’s natural beauty.
Garden designers have taken inspiration from the lake too, as it reflects “an idealised fusion between humans and nature”. There are approximately 1369 species of plants at the lake, 21 of them being rare plants listed in the first-grade station protection. You’re also very likely to see mallards, koi carp and halcyons at the lake!
Enduring Memories of Hangzhou
If you head to the lake at sunset, plan ahead and book tickets for Enduring Memories of Hangzhou. This is an on-water show. It combines dancing, musical performances, acrobatics, special lighting effects and much more. It is breathtaking experience full of colour and magic, and described a must-see when looking for things to do in Hangzhou.
Ticket prices are as follows:
Adult: RMB 360 / USD 55
Child: USD 50
Adult: RMB 420 / USD 60
Child: USD 55
The shows are daily through most of the year, with times changing. Time and dates are below. This means there is no way you can miss the Enduring Memories of Hangzhou show!
March & April:
May – October:
21:10-22:10 (possible availability on Fri, Sat and holidays; check before booking)
November & December (until 16th Dec):
Visiting Little Venice is one of the most unique things to do in Hangzhou. This is effectively a ghost city that looks just like the real Venice! Take a stroll along the canals and you might spot some newly weds having their photographs taken.
Similarly to Little Venice, Little Paris is another ghost city. Taking your photo in front of the Eiffel tower is one of the coolest and most unusual things to do in Hangzhou.
Qinghefang Old Street
Qinghefang Old Street is a historical and cultural road located in Hangzhou, China. I visit to this street is one of the most popular things to do in Hangzhou as it is one of the most important streets of ancient Hangzhou and has been around for over 900 years. Today, Qinghefang Old Street is a popular tourist destination and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
The street is located at the foot of Wu Mountain and runs from east to west, stretching from Dajing Lane to Dongpo Road. It is about 600 meters long and 4 meters wide, with a total area of about 2,400 square meters.
Qinghefang Old Street is a well-preserved ancient street in Hangzhou. It is filled with a variety of traditional stores, and features a large number of ancient buildings, including the former residence of the famous poet Su Shi, the former residence of the famous painter Gong Xian, and the former residence of the famous scholar Zheng Banqiao. In addition, there are also many restaurants and tea houses on the street, which makes it a great place to explore Chinese culture.
Qinghefang Old Street is also known for its unique architecture and beautiful scenery. The street is lined with ancient buildings and is decorated with a variety of stone carvings, which gives the street a unique charm. Furthermore, the street is surrounded by lush trees and is filled with blooming flowers, making it a great place to take a stroll and admire the beauty of Hangzhou.
It is also a great place to experience traditional Chinese culture and history, as there are many stores selling traditional Chinese arts and crafts, as well as restaurants serving traditional Hangzhou cuisine. Furthermore, the street is also home to many cultural events, such as the Hangzhou International Tea Culture Festival and the Hangzhou International Calligraphy and Painting Arts Festival.
Thus, Qinghefang Old Street is one of the most important streets of ancient Hangzhou and is a great place to experience the culture and history of the city. It is filled with a variety of traditional stores, restaurants and tea houses, and is surrounded by lush trees and blooming flowers. Moreover, it is also home to many cultural events, making it a great destination for visitors looking to experience the best of Chinese culture.
Xixi National Wetland Park
One of the best national wetland parks in China, Xixi lies in west part of the city and is one of the most popular things to do in Hangzhou.
It has six main watercourses with lakes, ponds and swamps to discover. Its 4000-year history has provided an abundance of cultural heritage; being the original site of the Chinese South Opera and the location for the traditional dragon boat contest, it is no wonder that Xixi National Wetland Park is one of the most recommended things to do in Hangzhou.
There is flora and fauna galore here, too. Pack your camera because you won’t want to miss out on the amazing shots you’ll be able to take here!
Longing Tea Plantation
The Longjing Tea Plantation is a famous Dragon Well tea plantation found in the leafy hills in the West Lake scenic area of Hangzhou, China. The area is renowned as being one of the most important production bases of West Lake Dragon Well tea in China, making a visit here as one of the best things to do in Hangzhou.
Longjing Tea, also known as dragon well tea, is a type of green tea that has been in production for over 1200 years! It is a very famous tea throughout China and is well regarded for the bright coloured leaves, strong smell, sweet flavour and attractive appearance.
Longjing Village is found to the west side of the famous West Lake and it is the origin of Longjing Tea. The village is nestled into the hillside and is surrounded by picturesque mountains. The plantation itself stretches to over 800 acres.
Visiting the Longjing Tea Plantation allows you not only to learn about the interesting processes of tea production, but also to admire the stunning scenery- don’t forget to pack your camera!
If you want to learn more about the way that Longjing Tea is made I recommend heading over to this Lonely Planet article.
For many people, hiking is one of the best things to do in Hangzhou. There are various hiking trails that lead from both Wengjiashan Village and Dragon Well Tea Village. The trails take you up close and personal with the tea bushes- this means that you can have a good look, but also that you are at arms’ length of the swarms of mosquitos! Don’t make the mistake I made and pack the mosquito repellent (I recommend one with DEET)!
The hiking trails are really quiet and are often completely deserted, the only people that you will likely see are the tea pickers during harvesting. I visited on a weekend and only saw a handful of tourists all afternoon.
If you feel so inclined you can do some tea picking yourself during your visit to Longjing. You can experience what it is like to work in the tea fields and get a taste of local life. Be sure to book on to a tour that allows you to pick the tea though, you can’t just start picking the leaves anywhere and anytime you choose!
There are more than 160 tea houses in the area where tourists can learn about the history and culture of Chinese tea. You can also learn all about the Chinese Tea Ceremony and why this ceremony is so important to the Chinese community. Most tea houses will have staff who will show you how to prepare the tea and how to pour, smell and sip it, just as the locals do. Of course, drinking tea where it is grown is one of the best things to do in Hangzhou!
Fun fact: I’ve also found that many random things are green tea flavoured in China including toothpaste and mints! Who knew?
When visiting the Longjing Tea Plantation you can also walk to the Hugongmiao Temple at Shifeng in Longjing Village to see the ‘eighteen Emperor Tea.
Opposite the tea plantations there is a bamboo forest. This is a nice place to go for a walk and the views are pretty good too. This is a protected area so there is a small fee to enter.
Xianghu Lake is a beautiful lake situated in the southeastern part of Hangzhou in China. The lake is a popular tourist destination, with a wide range of activities to enjoy. It is a large, shallow lake with an expansive shoreline of over 3.6 kilometers. The lake is surrounded by mountains and hills, and is a great place to experience both the beauty of nature and the tranquility of the countryside.
There are many activities to enjoy at Xianghu Lake and visiting this area was one of my favourite things to do in Hangzhou on the weekends. Visitors can explore the lake and its surroundings by taking a boat ride, or they can go hiking and camping in the surrounding hills and forests. There are also several restaurants and cafes lining the shore, offering a variety of local and international cuisine.
The Xianghu Lake area is also home to a variety of wildlife and plants. The lake is a sanctuary for several different species of birds, including swans, geese, and ducks. It is also home to a variety of fish, including carp and catfish. The lake is a great place for bird-watchers and nature lovers, as it is home to some of China’s most beautiful bird species, making bird watching one of the popular things to do in Hangzhou.
The Xianghu Lake area is also home to a number of historical sites, including several ancient temples and shrines. The lake is a popular spot for wedding ceremonies and family outings. Visitors can also explore the lake’s many caves and grottoes, as well as the nearby museum.
Xianghu Lake is a great place to visit for a relaxing day or a weekend getaway because there are plenty of things to do in Hangzhou here. Many people travel from elsewhere in the country to come and stay here.
At Xianghu Lake there is a small sandy beach. This is is a nice place to hang out on a sunny day and many kids will build sand castles and fly their kites here.
There is another beach in the north of the city too. Located in the Baoshou Mountain Sceneic Area the artificial beach is generally quiet and peaceful. There are playgrounds for the kids and water activities- so plenty of fun things to do in Hangzhou for the family.
Chinese National Silk Museum
The Chinese National Silk Museum is located in the city of Hangzhou and is one of the most important museums in China and things to do in Hangzhou.
The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Chinese silk production and its impact on the world. The Chinese National Silk Museum covers an area of over 30,000 square meters and contains over 200,000 items related to silk production. The museum houses a wide range of artefacts and exhibits related to the production of silk, including looms, spinning wheels, and other tools used in the production of silk.
The museum also contains an exhibition hall that showcases various aspects of Chinese silk production, including the history of the craft, the different types of fabrics used, and the various types of garments that were created from silk. The museum also has an exhibition hall dedicated to the history of the silk trade and its impact on the global economy. The museum also contains a library filled with books and documents related to the history of silk and the Chinese silk industry.
The Chinese National Silk Museum also offers educational programs and workshops for students and visitors to learn about the history and process of silk production, which are also popular things to do in Hangzhou. These programs and workshops provide visitors with an in-depth look at the history of Chinese silk production and its impact on the world. The museum also has a gift shop where visitors can purchase silk products and souvenirs.
The Chinese National Silk Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Chinese silk production and its impact on the world. It is also a great place to experience the beauty and craftsmanship of Chinese silk production. The Chinese National Silk Museum is a great place to visit and learn about Chinese silk production and its impact on the world.
Hu Xueyan’s house
While his real name was Hu Guangyong, this Chinese businessman was better known as Hu Xueyan – his courtesy name. In business during the Qing dynasty, he dabbled in real estate, banking, Chinese medicine, shipping and more. He was involved in the arms trade as well as tea, grain, salt and clothing.
He was known to be kind and generous, and you can visit his former home if you are looking for things to do in Hangzhou. It is in the Shangcheng District of Hangzhou, and is designated a provincial key cultural unit. The house has been open to the public since 2001. Like stepping back in time, this beautiful residence is so typical of late Qing dynasty architecture and style. It was built between 1872 and 1875. This is one of the popular things to do in Hangzhou.
Located on Hangzhou’s Sunset Hill, south of the West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda is a five-story tower with eight sides. It was originally built in 975 AD. This was during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, and the construction was ordered by King Qian Chu of Wuyue. The original pagoda was built from brick and wood, with a brick base.
DID YOU KNOW: the Leifeng Pagoda was one of the ‘ten sights of the West Lake’.
Japanese pirates attacked Hangzhou during the Ming dynasty. They thought the Leifeng Pagoda contained weapons so they burnt the wooden part. Just a brick skeleton remained.
As the years went on, the brick skeleton stayed. It can be seen in Ming paintings of the West Lake. But later, a superstition arose: people believed that bricks from the pagoda could repel illness and prevent miscarriage. For this reason, people stole the bridges and pavilions – Hangzhou has a lot to offer. The Leifeng Pagoda is one of the most famous parts of the city and visiting it is now one of the most popular things to do in Hangzhou.
Years later, in October 1999, the government decided it was time to rebuild the Leifeng Pagoda on the same site. The new pagoda is made of a 1400 tonne steel structure with 200 tonnes of copper parts. There are 4 sightseeing elevators, air conditioning, speakers and TVs. It was opened in October 2002.
During the rebuild, the much-debated mausoleum was found below the pagoda site. It was discovered in 2001 and excavated. Many artefacts were recovered from the mausoleum: bronze mirrors, jade figures, Buddhist relics and more.
China is not exactly famed for its accessible tourism, and the Leifeng Pagoda is no exception. There are quite a lot of stairs and escalators that are not pram or wheelchair friendly. There are some ramps around, but you will need to walk the long way around to find them (we did it).
The main reason to visit Leifeng Pagoda is for the views, in fact- admiring these views is one of the best things to do in Hangzhou. If possible, take the stairs to avoid queueing for the lift. The top floor offers an incredible 360 degree view of the entire city, so it’s definitely worth the climb if you can manage it! Ideally you want a clear and sunny day. October has the least rainfall and temperatures between 15 and 23°C making it a great time to visit – June, July and August are all hot but come with their fair share of rainy days. The smog is worst in the winter months, which can significantly reduce visibility.
The 2nd floor is home to beautiful wooden carvings, and there are things to see on each floor. Even if you take the lift up to the top to see the view, it is worth walking back down so you don’t miss anything. This is a great way of doing it! Walking down the different flights of stairs, stopping in between, is much less strenuous than climbing right the way up…
Located in north west Hangzhou, this is a Buddhist temple and one of the best things to do in Hangzhou. The name is commonly translated as Temple of the Soul’s Retreat. It is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in the whole of China. There are numerous pagodas and plenty of Buddhist grottoes, rock carvings and more. The monastery was founded in 328 AD by an Indian monk named Huili. It has a five-hall Chan sect structure, and there is so much to see here.
The Feilai Feng rock reliefs are almost magical, and Buddhist statues dotted around are beautiful. The views and history here are amazing, and it comes as no surprise that this is one of the most amazing things to do in Hangzhou. You can access the Lingyin Temple from Fei Lai Feng Park – which in itself is well worth visiting – and pay a separate entrance fee to get into the temple. This includes a joss stick which you can use to make your prayers at the temple grounds if you want to do so!
Eight Diagrams Field
At the south foot of the Jade Emperor Hill, the Eight Diagram Field is an ancient rice field split into eight sections. There are currently seven types of crops planted here, though historically there were nine:
- Red bean
- Glutinous rice
- Broomcorn millet
- Ancient millet
The field is best viewed from a height because the sections are differently coloured due to the different crops. With the symbol of Yin and Yang in the middle it really is a site to see. If you climb the hill here, you’ll get a great view and be able to appreciate the significance of this amazing field. The greens and blues around here are just impeccable. This is one of the best things to do in Hangzhou for photographers!
If you want views, head here. The pavilion itself is an incredible piece of Chinese architecture, and it also provides an amazing view of the city and the West Lake! Bright red against the blue skies, the Chenghuang Pavilion stands out – it is also known as the City God Pavilion.
Providing a stunning birds eye view over the whole city, this is one of the most beautiful things to do in Hangzhou. This is a real central part of history and culture in the city! With hanging lanterns, views from different levels, a rooftop area to look out from, mahogany furniture and more, there is even a public tea room where stage performances are held!
Marvel at the Hangzhou skyline
One of the best things to do in Hangzhou is simply to explore the city itself.
From the shiny business district, with its skyscrapers and golden sun building, to the older buildings of Hefang Street – the city is just wonderful in every direction.
Hefang Street is good for souvenirs, and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. The golds and reds will wow you, and it feels very traditional.
The business district, bright and modern, is great for shopping. The Alibaba group is based here, an internet industry enterprise, and the 2016 G20 summit was held here too. There is always something going on in Hangzhou, and the city has a little bit of everything- there really are so many things to do in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou Safari Park
Hangzhou Safari Park is an animal park located in Hangzhou, China. It is one of the largest animal parks in China and is visited by thousands of tourists every year It is one of the most popular things to do in Hangzhou for families.
The park boasts a wide range of animals including tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes, monkeys, pandas and more. Visitors can view the animals in their natural habitats and observe them from a safe distance. The park also offers a variety of activities and attractions such as a petting zoo, an animal show, and a safari ride.
The Hangzhou Safari Park is divided into two sections: the animal park and the zoo. The animal park consists of an enclosed area where visitors can observe and interact with the animals. This section includes a petting zoo, where visitors can pet and feed the animals. The zoo section is where visitors can observe the animals in their natural habitat. Visitors can also take a safari ride in the zoo and get up close to the animals.
The park also features a number of educational exhibits and activities. There are interactive exhibits and activities designed to educate visitors about the animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts. Visitors can also watch educational films and lectures about the animals and their habitats.
The park also offers a variety of recreational activities such as horseback riding, pony rides, and a children’s playground.
Crazy Apple Land
A visit to Crazy Apple Land is one of the things to do in Hangzhou that is not for the faint hearted! This is a Chinese-style theme park with all the trimmings. Be prepared for questionable safety, lots of sugar and large crowds of people!
Polar Ocean Park
This is China’s largest polar ocean park. Located close to Xianghu lake, Hangzhou Changqiao Polar Ocean World is a polar marine park that houses a variety of Artic and Antartic Wildlife.
Popular with families, there are various marine animals here including sea lions and dolphins. There are performances too, which are popular in China but generally unethical. Hangzhou Polar Ocean Park is currently the only place in China that has bought pilot whales.
Going to Neobeo is one of the best things to do in Hangzhou for kids. This theme-park come soft play ids absolutely huge and deserves an entire day visit. There are interactive activities, water play, dressing up games, ride on cars and so much more. This is no ordinary soft play!
The best restaurants in Hangzhou
There are plenty of restaurants in Hangzhou. Here are some of the highest recommended places to eat in the city:
Panorama Signature Restaurant Bar
This is an example of fine dining in the city, so if you’re looking for special things to do in Hangzhou then going out for dinner should be on your list. Looking over the Qianting River and beautifully decorated, this 22nd floor restaurant has delicious food and attentive staff that make for an all-round special experience. There is a buffet with impeccable options, and the restaurant are hot on making sure people with allergies are catered to. This place comes highly recommended!
Another high recommendation, this vegetarian-friendly restaurant is small and warm with plenty of delicious food on offer. It’s very popular so you may have to wait or come back later, but that just shows how good the food is. All the more reason to visit! Each dish has a story, and there is plenty of variety too.
This is a popular Mexican restaurant. Fancy some burritos? Then this is your place!
Blue Frog is a chain found throughout China. The restaurant serves a variety of Western food and is popular with foreigners. The burgers are amazing and the cocktails are pretty good too!
This is a cantonese-style Chinese restaurant that offers food that Westerners are more familiar with compared to the local cuisine. This restaurant is found in Star Avenue Mall.
Another firm favourite amongst Westerners, this Australian restaurant serves excellent quality meat and a range of other food. They deliver too.
This is one to save for date night! This Italian located in Raffles Mall serves exquisite food and the views of the city here are spectacular.
this restaurant serves delicious Middle Eastern Cuisine
This restaurant might be quite far out from the city centre, but the drive is worth it! Come here for a traditional English roast dinner or a steak and you won’t be disappointed.
A firm favourite of mine, Simply Thai is a traditional Thai restaurant with the best Thai Green Curry in town!
The best bars in Hangzhou
Whilst I did not explore the nightlife scene in Hangzhou to a great extent, I know that some people do love a good night out. Hangzhou is a big city and it isn’t always easy to find the best places to go as a foreigner. So, if you are looking for some evening drinks and maybe a bit of a dance, try these places out for size:
- College Bar
- Brew Gang
- Midtown Brewery
Where to stay in Hangzhou
If seeing the Leifeng Pagoda is on your list, then a trip to Hangzhou is a must. Many people travel here for a couple of days from Shanghai using the high speed train. Beware that not all hotels in China will allow foreigners to stay and many will allow you to book and pay without notifying you of this! Here are some of my recommendations for places for foreigners to stay-
Rock&Wood Cozy House is a beautiful hotel. As the name suggests, there is a real cosy vibe inside – soft hues and plenty of cushions. There is free parking and free WiFi, air conditioning and 24-hour security. Leifeng Pagoda is exactly a mile away, but the area is quiet. Previous guests really praise the delicious food, fantastic host and comfortable rooms. Each room has a private bathroom with toiletries and a hairdryer, and breakfast is available on-site too.
Yuyou Hotel is great if you are looking to visit Hangzhou on a budget. Offering free WiFi, free parking, family rooms and great disabled access, this is a fantastic hotel for so many different travellers. There is a bar and restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and each room has air conditioning and a private bathroom. The hotel has a business centre too, should you be travelling for work purposes!
Floral Hotel Chatan Boutique Inn offers something a bit special. Stunning garden views and balconies with hammocks, hot tubs and beautiful decor – this is all part of the experience. Breakfast is available on site, and there is plenty of outdoor space including BBQ facilities. WiFi is free and there is air conditioning, room service and even a library!
Still not sure where to stay? Type your search dates in the box below for a full list of all available accommodation options and prices for your travel dates.
Things to do in Hangzhou: To Conclude
There are lots of things to do in Hangzhou, all of which I have tried and tested during my time living in China. Whether you are a family, a single adult or a student, there are plenty of things to do in Hangzhou to keep you occupied.
If you want to see what these things to do in Hangzhou look like in real life, head on over to my Instagram page to view my stories. And if you enjoyed this article on the best things to do in Hangzhou, I am sure that you will love these too: