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Hangzhou

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Hangzhou (杭州 Hángzhōu; [1]) is in Zhejiang Province, China. It is one of the most important tourist cities in China, famous for its natural beauty and historical and cultural heritages. It is the political, economic and cultural center of Zhejiang province as well.

Understand

Famed for its natural scenery, Hangzhou and its West Lake (西湖 Xī Hú) have been immortalized by countless poets and artists. The city was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty from 1127 until the Mongol invasion of 1276, during that time the city's population is estimated to have been as high as one million, making it the largest city in the world at the time. Even Marco Polo claimed to have passed through, calling it "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world".

With the gradual silting up of its harbor, much of the city's trade and industry passed north to nearby Shanghai, but the city still has a bustling population of 1.7 million and ranks as one of China's most popular tourist attractions.

Get in

By plane

Despite the name, Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH) generally services domestic Chinese flights. There are frequent services to Beijing and Hong Kong, but using Shanghai's domestic Hongqiao or the international Pudong airports and connecting by bus or train is also a viable option. International flights are possible. International cities that have service to Hangzhou include Amsterdam (by KLM), Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok, Seoul, and Singapore. Flights from Kuala Lumpur can be obtained from AirAsia, [2] a low-cost airline that provides flights to China and throuhgout Asia. The service to Bangkok may not currently be operating.

The airport is about 30km east of the city centre, taking 30 minutes - 1 hour by taxi. A taxi to or from the airport from the city centre is around ¥90; on the way back, you should ask if the driver is willing to take you that far before just jumping in the car with all your bags. No additional fee is payable for travel to/from the airport, the normal metered fare applies. A cheaper route would be to buy tickets for the shuttle service (¥20) to/from the Xiaoshan Bus ticket office on Tiyuchang Road next to the KFC just west of Wulin Square. The shuttle bus also stops at the main railway station en-route. Buses run every 30mins during the daytime and take about an hour; join the queue for your ticket at the booth just outside the exit before boarding the bus. The Shangri-La Hotel also has a shuttle service to/from the airport for ¥50, inquire within.

Alternatively, if flying into Pudong Airport in Shanghai, there are direct buses to Hangzhou. They leave from the 2nd floor parking lot across from Gate 15 of Pudong Airport, departing every 1.5 hours from 10:30AM until 7PM. It costs ¥100 (Summer 2008 price). These buses arrive at the Hangzhou Yellow Dragon Sports Center (football stadium), 3km to the west of the city centre.

By train

A train from Shanghai is the easiest way to get to Hangzhou. Frequent trains run from Shanghai Zhan (Main) Railway station and from the new Shanghai South Station, both on Metro line 1. Check the train schedule for the duration of the trip as some trains are considerably faster than others. In general, the train will take between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, but "local" trains can take over 3 hours. New high-speed "D" trains can take 1 hour and 18 minutes and mostly depart from Shanghai South Station. Travel from Shanghai to Hangzhou by D train is 54 RMB in Second Class and 64 RMB in First Class. Also, it is better to arrive in Hangzhou at the main Hangzhou station, rather than the East Hangzhou Railway station as the main station is right in town.

In addition to Shanghai, Hangzhou Train Station serves trains from Guangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, and everywhere in between. For destinations further away, such as Kunming and Urumqi, you would first want to go to Shanghai or some halfway-point train station. There is an East Train Station as well, but it is not in such a smart part of town. Trains returning from Shanghai often only stop here rather than at the main station.

By bus

Hangzhou has 4 bus stations (N, E, W, and S). Usually, the direction of your destination corresponds to the bus station's name, eg if you are going to Shanghai, you'll want the East Bus Station. If you are going to Huangshan, buses leave from the West Bus Station; Nanjing is served by a frequent service from the North Station, and so on.

For travel to or from Shanghai, the bus has become at times more convenient than the train, as it can be more comfortable if only hard seater train tickets exist, and the buses depart more frequently than trains. From Shanghai, buses depart from the north bus station (Hengfen Lu), the PuDong bus station (Bailianjing, PuDong Nan Lu), and from Xujiahui Bus Station, ticket cost ¥58 (October 2008 price). These buses arrive at the north bus station of Hanzhou.

There are also airport shuttle buses (100rmb per ticket). There are buses between Yellow Dragon Stadium and Pudong Airport (direct), Wulinmen Ticket Office and Hongqiao Airport (direct), and Wulinmen Ticket Office and Pudong Airport (with a stop en route at Hongqiao). Tickets can be purchased at the area with all the buses in front of the Yellow Dragon Stadium or at the Wulinmen Ticket office near the KFC on Tiyuchang Rd. by Wulin Square. To find the buses from Pudong, you have to go across the street from the international terminal to the large parking garage, then go to the 2nd level of the parking garage to find all the buses to various cities in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

By boat

The overnight boat service between Hangzhou and Suzhou/Wuxi has been discontinued. You can still take a ferry along the Hangzhou-Beijing Grand Canal to the north of Hangzhou proper (see "water taxi" section below).

Get around

By bus

Hangzhou has an extensive bus network, but you must be able to read Chinese to ride the crowded buses with ease. However, almost any bus that has a Y before the bus number (Y2, Y5, etc) will be "youke" - tourist buses, and are guaranteed to take you to a tourist site for ¥3 - ¥5. Therefore, if you want to just ride Y buses around all day, you will save money and still see the sites without having to tell the taxi drivers where you want to go in Chinese.

Otherwise, a bus with just a number will cost you ¥1 or ¥1.5, and a bus with a "K" before the number (air conditioned) is ¥2, ¥3 or occasionally, ¥4. Night buses are usually ¥2.5 - these are indicated at the bus stop by having a blue background colour. If you don't understand Chinese, don't worry, since the fare is written at the bus stop next to the bus number, so you can prepare your coins in advance (better have the exact fare, no change is given). Payment is made into a box next to the driver as you board the bus. The amount to be paid will be written on this box, but almost invariably in Chinese characters, not numerals, which is why it's vital to check the fare at the bus stop first if you don't read Chinese. Most buses in Hangzhou don't have a conductor inside as they have in Shanghai, the exceptions being articulated trolley buses with rear- as well as front-entrances. On these trolley buses, its possible to get on and pay at the rear (sometimes less busy than the front).

For those arriving in Hangzhou by train, note that bus K7 goes from the Hangzhou Rail Station to the West Lake for ¥1.

For those with computer or mobile web access, Google Maps may be used to plan bus trips. Simply click choose the "Get Directions" option and enter the departure and destination addresses in Chinese, then choose "public transportation" to view the available bus routes. Alternatively, you may simply right-click to select where to start and end your route.

By taxi

Like most major world cities, Hangzhou has a large number of taxis which allow for quick and convenient travel within the city proper. Most of the city's taxis are turquoise-green in color and easily identifiable by the word "Taxi" printed in both English and Chinese on the vehicles. Taxis for hire are marked by the green (or sometimes yellow-orange) light-up signs above the dashboard on each car.

Hangzhou taxi drivers always use the meter as required by law. All routes under three kilometers are charged a flat rate of 10 RMB (May 2008), plus the temporary addition of a 1 RMB "fuel tax" increase mandated by the government in 2006, is now charged. There is a low "slow-speed" charge for when the taxi is waiting at lights, stopped in traffic. It is advisable to take a receipt each time use you a taxi, should you wish to contact the taxi company or driver at later time to dispute a fare, recover a lost article, etc. Avoid the taxi touts at the train station and major tourist attractions, and instead, use the designated taxi queue or flag one off the street.

Few, if any, of the city's taxi drivers speak English or other foreign languages. It is therefore important that you be able to point out your destination on a map, present the driver with the name of the destination (in written Chinese), or properly pronounce the name of the destination in spoken Mandarin Chinese. If you have a Chinese acquaintance whom you can reach by cell phone, you can allow him or her to speak to your driver through the phone to convey the desired information.

Hangzhou taxis are not allowed to carry more than four passengers, although you may be able to convince or bribe a driver to allow you to "hide" an extra passenger in the backseat. This can be worth if the trouble or expense if it saves your group from needing to take two taxis.

Taxis, like all public transportation, are difficult to come by during the tourist weeks (Chinese New Year, May Golden Week, and October National Week); also, taxis between 7:30 and 8:45AM and 4:30-7:00PM are difficult to flag, as they are always full or in the middle of a shift change. A taxi with an imminent shift change (around 4.30-5PM) will be showing a plate in the windscreen (Chinese characters of course) and will only take you if your route coincides with his (or hers, a good number of taxi drivers in Hangzhou are women). A good rule of thumb is that if you need a taxi, there won't be any, but if you don't need one, they will be driving extremely slowly in the right lane disrupting traffic and honking and flashing their brights at you. Being familiar with areas that taxis frequent or places where taxi passengers are likely to be dropped off at will aid you in finding a ride. Don't be visibly upset that your hailing position will be gazumped by a new arrival 20 metres up the road. The only rule is; it's the quick and the dead.

Taxi drivers will also negotiate for long distance trips, or full-day / half-day hiring. A trip to Pudong airport in Shanghai will be RMB600-1000 depending on time of day or night.

In outer centres of Hangzhou, small 5 seater vans are usually available at bus terminals for onward transfers. These operate quite independently and the normal taxi rules do not apply. They will take you anywhere at a negotiated price.

By subway

Line 1 is scheduled to be completed in 2010, and line 2 shortly thereafter; a total of 8 lines covering over 200km have been planned. The opening dates of the lines are "last", it means they can open earlier in case they pass the security checks quicker. For example, Nanjing's new subway system was opened ahead-of-time, after safety checks were passed, and the same happened in Shanghai.

By "water bus"

Ferry down the Grand Canal takes 30 minutes but only makes 5 trips per day, the first at 7:30AM and the last at 6PM. It starts at Wulin Gate/West Lake Culture Plaza and ends at Gongchen Bridge, with one stop at Xinyifang Grand Canal Culture Plaza. The boats stop first at Xinyifang, then to the newly-developed Canal Culture Square, where you can see the Canal Museum, see if there are any events in the square, and check out the new Xiaohe Steet- a series of "historical" alleys with shops and restaurants similar to Hangzhou's Hefang Street; the area's renovation was completed in 2008. Cost is ¥3.

While really worth taking the trip, Hangzhou now has plans to connect a series of canals and streams throughout the city with the Grand Canal, West Lake, Yuhang River, and Qiantang River, making for increased water transport and a Venetian feel when completed.

There are also passenger boats running along the Grand Canal from near the Qiantang River

Getting to the islands on West Lake, you get to choose between tourist trap Dragon or "Gaily-painted" pleasure boats (¥45 and ¥35). There are also medium-sized power boats (¥25), or for ¥160 you can hire a driver to paddle you around for about an hour. The boats are available in Hubin #X (1, 3, 6) parks and other obviously marked areas all over the lake.

By bike

While traffic in Hangzhou may seem chaotic to some foreigners, the city is comparably bike-friendly. All but small side roads have dedicated bike lanes, often divided from motor traffic by barricades or medians.

For stays in Hangzhou, making use of the city's extensive public bike system can be a cheap and convenient way to experience the city. These fire engine red public bikes are ubiquitous on the street of Hangzhou, and the rental stations that dispense them are generously spread across the core of the city and around West Lake, stretching all the way down to the river near the Six Harmonies Pagoda.

To use the bikes, one will need to purchase a stored value card at 20 Longxiang Qiao across from the Agricultural Bank of China. If you have trouble finding it, go to the Hyatt and ask for directions; they will point you down the correct street. To do this, one must present an ID (such as a passport) and pay 300 RMB, 200 of which is a deposit with the remaining 100 to cover rentals fees. Bikes may then be rented by tapping the card against one of the automated bike racks holding the bikes. A beep and the audible sound of the rack unlocking will indicate that the bike can be removed. One can use any of the available bike racks scattered about the city if he or she wishes to visit an attraction or get a new bike. The bike is free for the first hour, 1 RMB an hour for the two hours after that, and 3 RMB an hour thereafter. For example, if one rents a bike for six hours, he or she will return to the main bicycle "hub" and receive 289 of his RMB deposit back, which covers the 11 RMB worth of bike riding.

Bikes are returned by reinserting them into an empty bike rack and tapping one's card against the top of the rack. Another beep, a solid green light, and the sound of the rack locking will indicate when the bike has been received successfully. Bikes not returned by 8:00 p.m. each night must be taken back to the Longxiang Qiao location, so keep an eye on the clock during evening rides. After ten days from purchase of the card, it may be returned for an 89% refund.

Maps

Buy maps near the Train Station or Bus Station from street vendors or stalls when you arrive. Price is often marked on the maps themselves, if you are wondering how much to pay (under 10 RMB). Street-bought maps are usually written in simplified Chinese with no pinyin. You can find pinyin maps at foreign language bookstores. The main foreign language bookstore in Yan An Road has a reasonable selection of maps as well as travel books.

There is a useful 'what's on' magazine called More Hangzhou [3] that has a good pull-out map in Chinese and English. The magazine is free and can be found in many hotels and bars.

Talk

The local Hangzhou dialect is part of the Wu family of Chinese dialects, and is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin or any other groups of Chinese dialects. However, as with most places in China, most locals will be bilingual in the local dialect and Mandarin, and you wouldn't have any problems speaking Mandarin unless you are talking to the elderly.

English is not widely spoken, though the more expensive hotels will likely have staff who speak at least basic English. Be sure to have the names of your destinations written in Chinese to show taxi drivers so they can take you to where you want to go.

See

West Lake (西湖 Xī Hú)

Hangzhou's most famous scenic sight. Technically, there are 10 Scenes of the West Lake and 10 New Scenes, but they are overrated, and often seasonal (Snowfall Over Broken Bridge, etc). Rather than make a checklist and walking back and forth looking for them, simply spend a clear day wandering the circumference of the lake and the causeways, take a ferry to the islands, and you will probably cover most of the sites anyway. The "West Lake" itself can be divided into countless smaller sites, from Mr. Guo's villa to "Orioles Singing in the Willows".

The "West Lake Scenic Area" itself is very large. This section only covers areas in the immediate vicinity of the lake. Other spots are covered in later sections.


Temples, pagodas and churches

Gardens, forests, nature


On the northern side of Baochu hill near the soccer stadium is Huanglong Cave (For "Scenes of The West Lake", this cave covers "Yellow Dragon Cave Dressed in Green").

Do

Learn

Buy

Eat

Hangzhou is one of the premier places to eat in China, and its food consists more of pork and seafood rather than the beef and lamb of the north and west. If you do not like Hangzhou food, you can find plenty of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Xinjiang restaurants throughout the city. Typical Hangzhou specialties include dongpo rou, an extremely fatty chunk of pork in a syrupy sauce, and cuyu, which is fish with a vinegar sauce.

Budget

For budget restaurants, even near the lake, just head into an alley and get some food from a small restaurant or street-side stand. You should judge for yourself how sanitary the food is, but Hangzhou is generally fairly civilized in this respect relative to other Chinese cities. These restaurants are all quite similar.

If you like dumplings and have just come down the north side of Baochu hill (past the cave and in view of the soccer stadium), one option is to continue across Shuguang Road and up Hangda Road (0.5 blocks east and 1 block north) to Tianmushan Road. At the corner of Tianmushan and Hangda Roads are 2 decent dumpling restaurants with English menus available (one is upstairs from the other). They have many of varieties of dumplings, including all-vegetable. From 6 yuan to 18 yuan for a plateful.

Mid-range

Hangzhou has many KFCs, several McDonalds, and an increasing number of Pizza Huts throughout town, especially near the lake. If you like Pizza Hut style pizza, but don't want to pay Pizza Hut prices, there's a much cheaper Pizza Hut 'clone' on You Dian Road, corner of Hubin Road, right near the lake.

Other restaurants that are good and aren't as tourist-trappy can as Lou Wai Lou are located near the West Lake, usually to the East past Hubin Road in the Yan'an Road area.

For Xinjiang, try Jade Dragon Xinjiang Special Restaurant (龙翠阁新疆特色餐厅) inside the Handnice Hotel (Originally of Tiandu Hotel on Zhongshan Bei Road) at the east side of Hangzhou Yellow Dragon Sports Stadium. Some say the Xinjiang restaurant on the 5th floor of Sanrui Tower (三瑞大厦) on Qingchun Road is better and more authentic, and on the east side of town, Xinjiang Pamir Muslim Restaurant (新疆帕米尔餐厅) has many Xinjiang people dining there.

Splurge

Chinese

Japanese

There are lots of Japanese restaurants, many of which offer the "all you can eat and drink" deal for between 120 and 200 renminbi, which is a good deal when you consider sake and plum wine are included, and is a good way to start off a weekend night.

South-East Asian

Western

Indian

Delivery

Drink

The drink of choice in Hangzhou is tea, as the local Longjing (龙井, also Lung Ching, literally "Dragon Well") is the most famous green tea in China. Longjing is divided into seven grades, the two top being Superior (旗枪 qiqiang) and Special (雀舌 queshe), and the rest numbered from 1 down to 5. Prices for the very best stuff are extremely high— in 2005, a mere 100g plucked from Qing Dynasty emperor Qian Long's personal trees sold for over US$17,000 — but a few cups in a local teahouse shouldn't cost you more than a few dozen yuan.

Traditionally, tea from Longjing is best served with spring water from Hupao (虎跑, "Tiger Run"), which is located next to the West Lake. You might have to purchase the tea from the tea shop in Hupao, instead of bringing your own. It's about 20 yuan per cup, but you get a thermal full of hot water with the purchase.

For bars, Nanshan Road all night every night should keep any visitor occupied. An up-and-coming part of town is on Shuguang Road has several old and new bars that are a little less hectic than those of Nanshan Road, including local expat hangout Maya Bar, packed-out local You To, rock music bar Travellers, and many more. Shuguang Road runs north from the north-west corner of the Lake. The Huanglong soccer stadium is full of dance / performance bars around the perimeter of the building.

Bars

Cafes

Cafes in Hangzhou normally fit a Hangzhou norm and do not always resemble a cafe in the West. Places like Liangan and UBC serve Western food, which is pretty inedible to a Western palette. Coffee is expensive and usually made over a candle, more for novelty than for good coffee. Some of the more 'international' style cafes are listed here.

Nightclubs

There are several large popular clubs in Hangzhou that cater to a generally un-sophisticated house music crowd, although they often have famous DJs visiting. Tables are hard to come by later on at night, and usually you cannot book. Tipping the server may help you find a table. Drinks may take a while to come, so perhaps ordering a bottle of liquor and mixers for the table would reduce the amount of time waiting for drinks. Clubs are generally safe, but bouncers are in-effective so stay away from trouble.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

You can find mid-range hotels all over the city, most of which will take foreigners. Try to bargain for a room. Ask how much they want for one night's stay, then say "what if I stay for 3 nights?" or something to that extent and it will become cheaper.

Splurge

Stay healthy

Get out

Related Information


WikiPedia:Hangzhou



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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [20].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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