As we were based in Shanghai for two months, we really wanted to explore some of the surrounding areas in China. Being only one hour away from Shanghai by fast train, Hangzhou jumped straight to the top of our list of Shanghai day trips. Honestly, Hangzhou is worthy of much more than one day. But even in one day in Hangzhou, we hiked through tea fields, visited a Buddhist temple, explored the breathtaking West Lake and wandered down historic streets over 800 years old. So here are the best things to do in Hangzhou, China, and everything you need to know before you visit this extraordinary place.
- One Day In Hangzhou Video
- The Best Things To Do In Hangzhou, China
- How To Get To Hangzhou From Shanghai
- How To Get Around Hangzhou
- Is One Day In Hangzhou Long Enough?
- Is Hangzhou Worth Visiting?
- What Is The Best Time To Visit?
One Day In Hangzhou Video
The Best Things To Do In Hangzhou, China
Hiking Hangzhou Tea Fields
When most people think of Hangzhou they think of West Lake. As an avid tea drinker, when I think of Hangzhou, I think of tea fields. Once I realised Hangzhou was where they grew the renowned green tea, Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea), seeing the Hangzhou tea fields immediately became my priority for our day trip to Hangzhou.
There’s just something about seeing where something you have daily comes from and the process of creating it. And for all those non-tea drinkers out there, not to worry, because the tea fields also happen to be some of the most spectacular scenery we have ever seen.
The two main tea fields in Hangzhou are located in Longjing Village and Meijiawu Village. We started in Meijiawu Village, explored the Meijiawu tea plantations, and then began our hike through the tea fields to reach Longjing Village. If you have the time, this was one of the most unforgettable experiences. We were also lucky that we happened to be there during picking season (late March and early April). We could see all the people out picking the tea and hear the rustling of conversations floating off the leaves. The tea plantations had really come alive.
If you don’t have time to do the walk between the two villages, we would definitely recommend at least visiting Meijiawu village. This was our favourite area between the two villages, as it seemed more authentic and had a nice mix of things to see and do. Here you can see the tea fields, you can take short walks through the tea plantations from the main road and you can also wander through the village and find a tea shop to try the tea.
How To Get To Meijiawu Village | We took a taxi, although this took some time to get and we ended up having some lovely hotel staff help us arrange it. If you can access DiDi in China, this would be the easiest way. Otherwise, you can take the tourist bus Y4 to Meijiawu Village or Y3 to Longjing Village.
Lingyin Temple And Feilai Peak
Originally built in 326AD by an Indian monk, Huili, Lingyin Temple is a Buddhist temple and monastery. When translated, Lingyin Temple means ‘temple of the soul’s retreat’. It is fittingly nestled in a peaceful forest within the Wulin mountains which easily allows you to forget you are in a major city. The Lingyin Temple area is made up of many buildings that you will discover as you walk uphill. You will see grand statues, incredible architecture and a peaceful bamboo forest. There is something so calming about wandering through this area.
Before you reach Lingyin Temple, you will also see Feilai Peak (also known as ‘Peak Flown From Afar’). This is an area where there are hundreds of Buddhist carvings in the rocks, with rivers flowing below them. It’s really beautiful walking around this area and seeing the incredible Buddhist carvings. You can also visit Taoguang Temple and Yongfu Temple whilst you are here. We explored Yongfu temple and this area was also beautiful to walk around.
Entrance Fee | 45 RMB for Feilai Peak and 30 RMB for Lingyin Temple. You need to enter Feilai Peak to enter Lingyin Temple.
Opening Hours | 7 AM to 6 PM every day
How To Get To Lingyin Temple | Tourist buses Y1 and Y2 can take you to Lingyin Temple.
West Lake (Xi Hu)
Hangzhou and West Lake are synonymous, you can’t see one without seeing the other. West Lake is an incredible, massive freshwater lake in Hangzhou with mountains on three sides. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We didn’t walk the entire way around but would have loved to if we had more time. There are 10 different scenic spots around the lake that you can discover. You will also see pagodas and temples, bridges and islands, there are boats you can hire and so much more you can see. The views are spectacular and walking around the gardens is like jumping into an artwork.
We explored about four of the ten scenic sites and they were all magical. We walked along part of Su Causeway, explored the Lotus Pool area and then took a bridge out to an island and walked along the Bai Causeway and the Broken Bridge back into the city. The Lotus Pool area was absolutely stunning with beautiful gardens and bridges everywhere. Whether you hire a bicycle, jump on a boat, or simply walk around West Lake, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Hangzhou.
There is also a light show on the lake in the evening, Impression West Lake, where you can see beautiful lights, music and dancers produced by director Zhang Yimou. More places to see around West Lake include Baochu Pagoda and Leifeng Pagoda. With so much to see and so much beauty, it doesn’t take long to realise why West Lake is one of the best attractions in Hangzhou.
How To Get To West Lake | West Lake is massive, so it really depends on which part of West Lake you want to arrive at. Longxiangqiao is the closest metro station to West Lake on Metro Line 1. You can also get tourist buses Y1 and Y2 to West Lake.
Hefang Street, also known as Qinghefang Street, is an ancient street in Hangzhou which dates back to the Southern Song Dynasty over 800 years ago. Today it is a pedestrian shopping street where you can see ancient buildings and traditional shops like old Chinese medicine halls, tea houses and places selling Chinese crafts and Hangzhou snacks. You can also explore famous pharmacist Hu Xueyan’s Former Residence. We loved exploring Hefang Street in the evening, it was busy with people, lights were on, and there was a great atmosphere. Definitely one of the best things to do in Hangzhou at night.
How To Get To Hefang Street | Metro Line 1 to Ding’an. It is also near West Lake so if you are nearby you can walk.
Gongchen Bridge And The Grand Canal
Gongchen Bridge was originally built in the Ming Dynasty and is over 400 years old. It is the largest stone arch bridge in Hangzhou and crosses the grand canal. Located in the Gongshu district, there are many other great things to see in this area, including historic streets such as Qiaoxi Street and the Xiaohe historic block as well as exploring Banshan National Forest Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t get time to explore this area but it’s definitely something we would love to go back and do.
So if you’re visiting Hangzhou for one day only, make sure to prioritise what to do as there are so many incredible things to see and do. Better yet, if you have more time, make sure to stay a few nights.
How To Get To Gongchen Bridge | Water bus from Wulinmen Pier (near Wulin Square) to Gongchen Bridge Pier.
How To Get To Hangzhou From Shanghai
Hangzhou makes for a great day trip from Shanghai as it can be easily reached by a bullet train. Most fast trains to Hangzhou leave from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and the journey takes around 1 hour.
We booked our tickets online through trip.com the day before to make sure we had seats and the time we wanted. You just need to make sure you leave time to pick up your tickets when you get to the train station and go through security. We also booked our return ticket back to Shanghai for later in the evening so we could still maximise the day but also not need to line up for tickets at the train station, which can sometimes take up to an hour, as we experienced in Suzhou.
How To Get Around Hangzhou
You can get around Hangzhou by walking, taxi, metro or bus. You can also hire a bicycle to get around. We walked around parts of West Lake and the city, but then also got a taxi out to the tea fields, two buses from there to Lingyin Temple and a taxi back into West Lake. The metro system is also good, although it will not get you to all Hangzhou sites.
It will make things easier if you have the internet on your phone so you can check how to get where throughout the day. Although Google maps can at times fail you in China, we used it to find directions during our Hangzhou day trip. It helped us to know which buses to get on and what direction to walk. You can also try Baidu Maps, Apple Maps or Maps.me.
It also helps to know that buses with a Y in front of them are tourist buses that take you to the main sites. Y1 takes you to West Lake and Y2 takes you to Lingyin Temple.
Finding an available taxi can be quite hard depending on where you are in Hangzhou. You can also use DiDi, however, we were unable to get this working without a Chinese bank account.
Is One Day In Hangzhou Long Enough?
We visited Hangzhou as a day trip from Shanghai, as we were based in Shanghai for a couple of months. Although we were able to see and do a lot in Hangzhou in one day, we definitely would have preferred to have longer. If one day is all you have, then we would definitely still recommend visiting Hangzhou. But if you have the time, 48 hours in Hangzhou would give you enough time to see see the tea fields and the main sights. Better yet, spend a few nights to a week to really explore Hangzhou.
Is Hangzhou Worth Visiting?
Honestly, Hangzhou is such an incredible destination with so many interesting places to visit. It was once the capital of China, and you can still explore historical attractions today. We would travel to Hangzhou just to explore West Lake, or just to hike the tea fields. Hangzhou is not only worth visiting but may even become a highlight of your trip to China.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Hangzhou?
Hangzhou is definitely a year-round destination. However, the most pleasant times to visit Hangzhou would be in the Spring and Autumn. We went in Spring and would definitely recommend this time. If possible, try to avoid weekends and national holidays as these times will be much busier.