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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top 5 Things to Do in Hangzhou – experience the natural beauty of one of China's oldest cities
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 5 Things to Do in Hangzhou – experience the natural beauty of one of China's oldest cities

Hangzhou has so many of the ancient architectural and heritage sites that attract travellers but there are also amazing gardens and waterways that you must see. Here are the top 5 things to do first.


Take in the beauty of West Lake

The focal point of the city has to be the serene West Lake. Surrounded by small hills, ancient temples and much of the oldest parts of the city, the lake is extremely large and divided into 5 parts by the causeways. Built in the late 1080s, the Su Causeway is the most popular and important attraction on the lake as it links the northern and southern banks. Rain or shine, cloudy or snow, the West Lake is always an amazing and wondrous sight to behold. The best time to take a boat ride across the lake is during spring when the flowers and peach trees are in full bloom. Other highlights to view are the many bridges, pavilions and little paradise island with its 4 mini-lakes, famous for its stunning water lilies and colourful lotus blossoms.


Running Tiger Spring

Located near the West Lake, this is one of the most famous springs in China. According to local legend, the spring was first discovered by a monk during a time of severe drought after he had a dream that he was lead to the spring by two tigers. To celebrate finding the spring, several tiger statues were placed around it. The spring is also famous for enhancing the taste of locally grown tea, served in teahouses around the region.


Visit a Water City

Like a smaller, oriental version of Venice, Hangzhou's water villages are celebrated for their beauty and rich cultural value. The most famous of the villages is Wuzhen Water Town, with a history dating back over 1300 years, it holds profound historical importance. Wuzhèn is crisscrossed with scenic waterways which are used by locals to transport everything from fresh produce and livestock to tourists. Exploring the town is quite easy thanks to the marked routes leading to different areas of the town. It's easy to lose track of time here, as you wander the many paths and bridges that connect the town but do make sure to enjoy a boat ride along the canals before you leave. Wuzhen is located outside of the city so if you're staying at a local hotel like Citadines Intime City Hangzhou for example, then do check if you can rent a car or organise transport to the water village.


Leifeng Pagoda

Built in 975AD, Leifeng Pagoda is a five-storey pagoda with eight sides, located on the southern side of the West Lake. The pagoda is famous due to Chinese folktale called the legend of the white snake. According to the tale, a demon snake was caught and imprisoned in the pagoda by a Buddhist monk. The tale has made the pagoda famous among Chinese people and made it a hotspot for tourists to the city.


Xixi Wetland Park

The park attracts both tourists and locals alike in search of tranquillity. The park is home to several species of animals, six main waterways, a winter temple, and even a fishing village. A journey through the wetlands is a great way to end the day before heading back to your Hangzhou accommodation.