Hangzhou is a city of choices. You might find yourself strolling past the Leifeng Pagoda first built in the tenth century, possibly staring thoughtfully at the Qianjiang CBD on your way to work. You could wake one morning with the adventurous spirit of a nature lover hankering to see birds on West Lake. Or, finding a hole in your soul, you may be gripped by urge to see the sites and walk the hallowed paths of hermits and pilgrims. Perhaps you’re just craving a decent cup of tea and a millennium-old view of lotus flowers. No one is just one type of person, and Hangzhou is not just one kind of city.
This guide endeavors to help travelers and residents alike find what they need for who they are, a handbook of travel stories from seasoned writers and journalists with helpful hints, listings, and locations you won’t want to miss. This guide is a testament to Hangzhou’s reputation as a city of stories—filled with tales of demons, kings, emperors, and the very beginning of civilization. Whether you’re on a junket, a honeymoon, or staking out Hangzhou for your next business venture, this guide has the information you need.
Whether you’re traveling to the Xixi wetlands for a day of flower-gazing, buffing up on your history at the 1,500-year-old Grand Canal, or thinking about a mortal man and a snake demon walking along West Lake, the placid reflections of lakes, canals, and streams will follow you everywhere. Few cities can offer such a holistic holiday. From one perspective Hangzhou is the city of modernity, of Alibaba, the G20, and a booming business hub; from another, it’s mountain streams, bamboo fields, and temples that have seen centuries. Poets and god-kings, entrepreneurs and travelers, refugees and philosophers—all found something in the waters of this ancient city that inspired or saved them. Hangzhou is many places to many people, but for most, Hangzhou is home.