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I grew up and live in Hangzhou

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Asia > China > Hangzhou > Useful Info
Updated on Jan 10, 2019 Useful Info

What Hangzhou is most famous for, from a local

In China, Hangzhou is most well-known for its scenic urban area and natural beauty. This reputation is acquired over the last 1000 years, as the city played host to many famous poets and painters in the imperial times. Its cultural cachet is bolstered by its brief stint as the capital of China during the Song dynasty

Here's the list of all the things that makes Hangzhou famous in China that travellers should try to experience. In order of fame:

  1. West Lake: this is number one by a big margin. There's not a single person in China who doesn't know what West Lake is, having been the setting of so many stories, paintings, poems, TV shows, movies from imperial times to today. A lot of people from all over China (especially Shanghai) come to West Lake to take wedding photos. It remains the number one attraction in Hangzhou. There are specific spots around the West Lake that are super famous, like the Broken Bridge, Leifeng Pagoda, because they've been featured in some very popular stories. A tip for travellers: there's a very massive mountainous area west of the West Lake itself that's 5-10x the size of the lake itself, where relatively fewer travellers explore this area but as a local I can tell you it's really beautiful and worth checking out. Specific scenic spots here include: Yunxi Zhujing (bamboo forest), Jiuxi 18 Streams (hiking in the woods with beautiful ponds and streams everywhere)
  2. Longjing Tea: also known as Dragon Well tea in English. It's one of the most famous tea varieties in China, and is considered probably #1 or #2 most premium one. In imperial times this was something only the emperor and high officials can afford to drink. These days it's still expensive but far more accessible. It's produced in the outskirts of Hangzhou and you should absolutely try it while in Hangzhou and buy some loose leaf version of it as souvenir. Longjing Village is west of the West Lake and is the birthplace of the tea. It's worth checking out the plantations there and see the production process
  3. Silk: Hangzhou, along with Suzhou, is very famous for the quality of its silk. I'm not an expert in this area so I can't tell you how true this is today and whether you should buy some here, but in the imperial times this was certainly true. There's silk museum you can check out
  4. Qiantang River: this river flows south of the West Lake and separates Hangzhou into two halves. The river is most famous for the tidal bore (a little tsunami that travels upstream from the ocean offering bystanders a very dramatic view), although the best spots to see the tidal bore are 1-2 hours east of Hangzhou itself
  5. Alibaba: Hangzhou is the headquarters of Alibaba, the largest e-commerce company in the world and bigger than Amazon and eBay combined by total dollars sales volume. The founder, Jack Ma, is quite famous in China. Not much to see for tourist, but their headquarter is located here if you're curious