Sadly, much of the splendor of Old Hangzhou was completely destroyed in the turmoil of the nineteenth century, though thankfully many of its scenic wonders remained intact. Today, the historic West Lake and its surrounding tea plantations remain popular destinations.
A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.
With your expert guide, visit a selection of seven Buddhist temples, the most renowned of which is Lingyin Si or “Soul’s Retreat.” Founded in the first year of Xianhe of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (326 AD), the temple once housed 3,000 monks who worshipped in more than 70 halls. Although now reduced in size, it remains one of the ten most important Buddhist temples in the country. In the Main Hall sits an 82-foot high, gold-gilded statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, the largest sitting Buddha in China.
Hangzhou Tea Museum
Enjoy an authentic tea ceremony that involves an athletic style of pouring at the Hangzhou Tea Museum. The tea grown here, called Longjing (or Dragon Well), is the “Bordeaux” of Chinese teas, and comprises all the tea grown in the valleys around Hangzhou that are watered by this one source.
Set on a verdant hillside is the exclusive Longjing Restaurant, which has just eight tables. Have lunch here and continue sipping a variety of delicious teas. Although the menus are set, they change regularly as the chef has relationships with local farmers and buys ingredients directly from them several times a week.
Enjoy a Chinese reflexology foot massage at a lakeside spa. Each point in your foot is linked to the various parts of and organs in your body; sharp pain or a sudden reflexive response when applying pressure to certain points of your
foot denotes possible stress to your body’s corresponding appendage or organ.
Temples of Tianzhu
There are also three fascinating temples of Tianzhu, the ancient Chinese name for India, linked together by the Pilgrim Path. These are The Temple of Faxi (Happiness), which was built between 906 and 970 AD; Middle India Peak, built in 597 AD; and Fajing, or Reflection, Temple, built in 330 AD. The latter is the only nunnery in Hangzhou and is surrounded by tea fields and a small village; many older Hangzhou women visit this temple to pray and spend time with the nuns.
Enjoy a traditional medicine check-up at Huqingyutang, the most famous Chinese pharmacy in southern China. Medicine in China dates back some 4,000 years and began with the ancient emperors’ interest in finding the elixir of life. Today, the treatment is still founded on the use of herbs, diet and acupuncture, with an emphasis on qi, the vital force of living things.
Go to West Lake and see why it inspired the Chinese saying, “In heaven there is paradise; on earth, Hangzhou and Suzhou.” There are 10 of the most beautiful spots on the West Lake, each remembered by a four-character mnemonic. Visit a selection of these 10 spots in a motorized boat with a covered deck.
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Western & Silk Road
Opened in Spring 2010, the Amanfayun is the second Aman property to open in China and is situated in the outskirts of Hangzhou, surrounded by tea fields, natural forest, quaint villages and a pilgrimage circuit of five significant Buddhist temples. All accommodations and common areas have broadband Internet connectivity and are decorated with calligraphy and woven bamboo accents. There are four restaurants, which serve a variety of dishes, from homemade dumplings in the casual Steam House to refined Western cuisine in The Restaurant. Aman’s legendary spa service is also available here; the spa consists of eight treatment rooms, a reflexology room, a fitness center, a room dedicated to tai chi, yoga and meditation, and a finishing salon. Amanfayun is a mere 20-minute drive from the city center and 50 minutes from the Hangzhou airport (HGH).
Located within China’s first and only wetland preserve, the Xixi National Wetland Park, Banyan Tree Hangzhou is just 15 minutes from downtown and the famous West Lake. The resort’s 72 suites and villas are decorated in the traditional Jiangnan style, with dark wood, delicate carved furnishings, and hand-painted silk brocades and embroidered tapestries. All of the suites and villas in the hotel are themed according to the four seasons, with color schemes to match, and include heated floors and wi-fi. For dining, choose between Waterlight Court, an all-day restaurant serving international favorites, or Bai Yun, a grand dining hall offering Cantonese dim sum and delicate, flavorful Hangzhou cuisine. Guests can also relax at Bai Yun’s tea lounge, where they can opt to taste and learn about the famed Longjing green tea picked from the hills of Hanghou; another option is Jiu Xian, a sumptuous bar decorated in reds and blacks. Wellness facilities include a swimming pool, beauty salon, Oriental bath, gymnasium, yoga studio, and 10 indoor spa pavilions that feature Banyan Tree’s signature spa treatments. For business needs, the hotel offers well-equipped, divisible conference rooms and a function and meeting hall. The hotel is a 50-minute drive from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport.
Overlooking the scenic West Lake and minutes from Lingyin Temple, the Four Seasons Hangzhou blends traditional design with contemporary style. Set among the property’s winding streams and lagoons, the 81 guest rooms, suites, and villas, all effortlessly fuse Chinese art and tapestries with clean modernist furnishings, and the latest in-room technology for business and entertainment. Each of the villas features a private swimming pool and landscaped garden. For health and relaxation, the hotel offers a fitness center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a cutting-edge designer spa with nine private treatment rooms. Jin Sha, the hotel’s feature restaurant, with 11 stand-alone pavilions surrounding a garden lagoon, serves fine Shanghainese, Cantonese, and local Hangzhou specialties. Other dining and drink options include WLB for all-day Asian and Western cuisine, the Lobby Lounge for traditional tea service, and The Bar for a dynamic nighttime atmosphere. There is also a business center with a meeting and function space. The hotel is a 45-minute drive from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport.
China Goes Well With
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands - a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
- Scott Rainen
Hangzhou may not be China’s most well-known or dynamic city, but it is one of the most romantic city getaways in the whole of the Middle Kingdom.
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