Things to do in Hangzhou

West Lake tops Hangzhou's list of attractions. In fact, a bicycle ride around the area is the perfect introduction to the city. Visitors will find many lovely parks, most with free admission. The Prince Bay Park is particularly beautiful in March and April, when the tulips and cherry trees are blossoming.

Nature lovers should also stop at the Lingyin-Felai Feng Scenic Area. This stunning forested and mountainous area is home to Lingyin Temple: the Temple of the Soul's Retreat. The numerous sculptures carved into the mountain are some of its treasures.

Hangzhou is also full of interesting museums, including the History Museum, the Hangzhou Lianzhu Cultural Museum and the National Tea Museum. The area is famous for its green tea and, apart from the museum, travellers may want to visit the Hangzhou Longjingshan Tea Cultural Village, where they can learn to make and serve tea using traditional methods.

Travellers more interested in simply enjoying the tea, and various other culinary treats should visit Hefang Street: a delightful old Chinese pedestrian shopping street bustling with shops and stalls. This street offers all the usual touristy stock, but also has a few charming restaurants and teahouses.

Lingyin Temple photo

Lingyin Temple

The Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou is one of the top 10 most famous Buddhist temples in China. Built in 326 AD and situated in the breathtaking Lingyin-Feilai Feng Scenic Area, it hous…

Lingyin Temple

The Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou is one of the top 10 most famous Buddhist temples in China. Built in 326 AD and situated in the breathtaking Lingyin-Feilai Feng Scenic Area, it housed some 3,000 monks during its heyday and is still one of the largest and wealthiest temples in China.

The forested walkway to the temple is strewn with hidden grottos, alcoves and ancient sculptures. Jovial and beautifully carved, the Laughing Buddha is particularly beloved. The temple's name can be translated as 'Temple of the Soul's Retreat' or 'Temple of Inspired Seclusion', both aptly describing its wondrous and meditative atmosphere.

Although you can view the famous statues carved into the mountain independently, the Lingyin Temple complex is definitely worth exploring too. One of the many treasures Lingyin displays is a Sakyamuni statue 82 feet (24.8m) tall, which is one of the largest wooden statues in China and covered in gold leaf. The temple also stores an important collection of Buddhist literature that makes it popular with scholars.

Address 1 Fayun Alley, Lingyin Road, Xihu District

Website www.lingyinsi.org

Grand Canal photo

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal in China is the largest man-made canal in the world. It once ran from Hangzhou all the way to Beijing, covering a stunning 1,115 miles (1,794 km). It was built sect…

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal in China is the largest man-made canal in the world. It once ran from Hangzhou all the way to Beijing, covering a stunning 1,115 miles (1,794 km). It was built section by section over many centuries, but the majority of it was developed under the Sui dynasty during the 7th century. The canal played a vital role in Chinese history, not just as a trade route, but also as a military asset and an important cultural and economic link between the north and south of the country. Boat trips along the Grand Canal are a popular way to see the countless scenic river towns in southern China, with spectacular river vistas, attractive bridges and old buildings on its banks. It is also lovely to walk or cycle along the canal through central Hangzhou.

West Lake photo

West Lake

Famed for its natural beauty, West Lake in Hangzhou is perhaps the landscape most representative of ancient China owing to its immortalisation in art. This is where visitors will r…

West Lake

Famed for its natural beauty, West Lake in Hangzhou is perhaps the landscape most representative of ancient China owing to its immortalisation in art. This is where visitors will recognise the blue waterscapes, bridges, and gardens on many ceramics. The lake itself is sheltered on three sides by mountains where travellers can truly feel that they have escaped the city.

West Lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of historical points of interest, including the various temples, pagodas and museums. Visitors can easily hire a boat to take them to the islands in the centre of the lake, which is a lovely way to view the area. Many visitors hire bicycles and ride all the way around West Lake, a trip of about six miles (10km) depending on the route.

There are so many things to see and do in West Lake that visitors will need at least a day to explore. Famous scenic spots worth seeking out are Su Causeway, Crooked Courtyard, Flower Pond and Broken Bridge â€' considered the most romantic spot in West Lake.