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Thursday, November 19, 2015

China - Hangzhou

Hangzhou is known as "the most beautiful and prosperous city in the world"! Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province and it is located in the middle part of south-east China, near Shanghai. Hangzhou is famous for its picture-perfect sceneries and rich history. It only takes about 1 hour to travel from Shanghai by speed train, which makes it the perfect place for a weekend vacation if you happen to be in Shanghai and want to see the more traditional side of China! 

Hangzhou is also known as one of the "Four Ovens" of China because of its high temperature levels during the summer time - the best time to visit Hangzhou is in the spring and fall! I have always traveled to Hangzhou during the summer time - it is fairly hot, but manageable! Make sure to drink lots of water and eat lots of ice cream to keep you cool and energized. :) 

West Lake 
West Lake is the most famous attraction in Hangzhou. It is an iconic landmark with beautiful gardens, temples and scenery! No matter what the weather conditions are or what time of the day you go, West Lake always knows how to put on a good show for you. It is breathtaking! I know I describe everything I see as "breathtaking" but West Lake actually took by breath away - not even being a tad dramatic ;) I got to catch the sunset at the West Lake and it is easily one of the most unreal experiences I have ever had and I was in an awe the entire time there - West Lake definitely lives up to the old Chinese saying: "heaven on earth". 
Top Ten Scenes of West lake:

1) Dawn on the Su Causeway - it is known to be most beautiful during the spring time. 
2) Lotus in the Breeze in Winding Courtyard - Lotus flowers only blossom during July and August. 
3) Moon Over the Peaceful Lake - You can see the moon pretty much anywhere around West Lake, even if you don't see the moon, West Lake is still stunning at night with its music fountain shows! 
4) Remnant Snow on Broken Bridge: Don't worry, the bridge is not actually broken but it refers to during the winter time when the snow covers the bridge, making it look broken. 
5) Leifeng Pagoda: The pagoda offers a panoramic view of the West Lake! 
6)Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds: Northern Peak and Southern Peak - there are hiking trails that you can hike to the peaks. 
7) Orioles Singing in the Willows: King Qain's Memorial is right by this park section. 
8) Fish Viewing at Flower Port: Very popular attraction - you might have to squeeze your way through to see all the fish! 
9) Three Pools Mirroring the Moon: The pagodas on the lake are printed on the back of the RMB 1 note! Prey cool right? You can get a closer look of the pagodas by boat (30 RMB) 
10) Evening Bell Over Nanping: Bell is located in Jingci Temple! Go chime the bell if you get the chance! It makes a very soothing sound! 

There are also boating services that you can go on to - they will take you around West Lake as well as all the different scenes. More boating services information here

Although, to truly appreciate the beauty of the West Lake, you would have to hang around for a full year, since the scenery changes every season! 
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon // Leifeng Pagoda 
Orioles Singing in the Willows // West Lake Road 
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon // Remnant Snow on Broken Bridge 
Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring // Moon Over the Peaceful Lake 

Hefang Street 
Hefting Street is a old but vibrant street that's filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes! This street goes way back to the Song Dynasty (800 years ago) where important import/trades took place. 

Southern Song Imperial Street
This street is similar to Hefang street, but has a more modern feel than Henfang street - a lot more American chain restaurants! It is called the imperial street because this was the main street traveled by the emperor back in the Song Dynasty. 

Longing Tea Village 
 Longjin means dragon well in Chinese! There are a ton of wells in this village where they used to collect the water to stem the tea in. There is actually multiple tea fields within this village (not pictured) and where they grew the famous Longjin Tea at. There are also short lessons on tea testings for visitors and free samples as well! You can also check out the Nine Creeks in Misty Trees when you are at the Longjin Village, as both attractions are connected to each other! 
Other places to visit: 
Chenghuan (City of God) Pavilion, Hupao Spring, Fei Lai Feng Grottos, Lingyin Temple, Zhi Wei Guan & Yellow Dragon Cave. More information here!

Famous Eats: 
Kui Yuan Guan: for their famous noodles. 
Huang Fan Er: On Hefang Street, where the one of the Emperor's favorites dish was made at. 
Huan Zhong Cheng: Right by Leafing Pagoda. Famous for its amazing view! 
Wai Po Jia "The Grandma's House': Traditional and homemade cooking. Get there early to get a table!!!

*All of the restaurants around West Lake offer Happy Hours! Make sure to check that out and grab a couple rounds of drinks for half da price!! ;) 

Where to stay: I would suggest staying around West Lake, especially if its your first time traveling to Hangzhou. Personally, I think its the most the central and most convenient location! My parents are frequent visitors of the Tea Boutique Hotel - although it's not right on the premises of the West Lake,  there is a short leafy/tree filled path to West Lake, which they both always raged about how much they love the  peaceful walk leading up to the West Lake! 

*FYI - I prefer using agoda when booking hotels in China! I think it has the best deals!

It's not a trip to China if you didn't have a selfie stick and lots of selfies! 

Qiandao Lake : Thousand Island Lake 
I went to the Thousand Island Lake a couple years back and loved it! It was beautiful! If you have time and want to explore more cities around Shanghai, this place would be pretty rad to explore. It is a little further out from Shanghai - about 4 hour train ride! More information on how to get there and what to explore upon arrival here
West Lake

Again, if you have any questions or concerns about traveling to China, I would be more than happy to answer them! Just holla at yo girl! 

Thanks for stopping by! Next Travel Post: Suzhou, China!  

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xo, amy & hannah

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