Hangzhou, about 175 km southwest of Shanghai, is one of China’s seven ancient capitals, with 2100 years of history. The scenic West Lake is the famous setting for many of the city's historical pavilions and temples and beautiful hills and gardens. Hangzhou is the birthplaces of the famous Longjing tea, and is also known for its embroidery, brocades and silk umbrellas. Places of interest include Lingyin Temple, Six Harmonies Pagoda and Three Moon Reflection Island.
Intrepid Italian explorer Marco Polo once wrote in his travel journals that the most beautiful women in the world hailed from Hangzhou. However, it’s not just the local ladies who lay claim to such acknowledgement as Hangzhou itself carries the tag – and it’s not just skin deep.
The city too is blessed with natural qualities, among them the vast and extremely beautiful West Lake – it measures 3.3km by 2.8km – and surrounding forests and mountains and the Grand Canal.
Centuries-old traditions which established Hangzhou as one of China’s seven ancient capitals are evident at the dining tables with freshwater fish a notable delicacy, along with beggar’s chicken (prepared and cooked in clay), Dongpo-style pork and Mrs Song’s fish soup.
Longjing shrimp is understandably on the menu as it is in this region that China’s best green tea, Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea hails. For shoppers, Hangzhou is renowned for its silk and traditional handicraft such as West Lake-brand parasols, Wang Xing fans and Zhang Xiaoquan scissors.