Archive for the ‘Hangzhou Travel’ Category

Top 10 Photography Spots in Hangzhou

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
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Actually Hangzhou is a garden city with numerous spots for fantastic photographs. Strolling along the famous West Lake or the busy streets in the city center, you will easily spot some wonderful locations for candid snapping on your own.

My Top 10 List may serve as a practical guide if you visit Hangzhou for the first time and don’t have much time searching on the field for the best photogenic opportunities on your short Hangzhou Tour.

1. Best Spot for Sunset Images in Hangzhou
For sunset aficionados, you are now on the right place! Sunset over the West Lake was listed as one of the 12 super sunset spots around the world published by CNN on May 30, 2014. That said, where is the best spot for sunset photography in Hangzhou?

There are two ideal places where you can shoot awesome sunset pictures – Changqiao Park and the No.01 Park of the Lakeside Park which are both located along the West Lake. Changqiao Park (长桥公园) is on the southeast corner of the West Lake.

In the park, there is a pavilion known as “Xizhao Pavilion” and “Xizhao” literally means “Sunset Glow” in Chinese, which is the best place to shoot the sunset over Leifeng Pagoda, hence the classical scene “Sunset over Leifeng Pagoda”.

Sunset Glow over Changqiao Park West Lake Hangzhou

The another equally ideal location for snapping the spectacular sunset is the No.01 Park of the Lakeside Park. The Lakeside Park (湖滨公园) comprises 6 sub parks, namely No.01 – No.6 parks with a length of 1000 meters along the east shoreline of the West Lake which merges with the city center of Hangzhou.

Sunset taken at Lakeside Park in WestLake Hangzhou

The No.01 Park is oft-lauded as the living room of Hangzhou, showcasing the beauty of the West Lake at a most visited and prominent area which is linked to Jiefang Road and Yan’an Road, the two most commercial streets in Hangzhou. Standing on the river edge of No.01 Park, set up your camera and patiently wait for the fantastic moment!

2. Best Place for Sunrise Photos
For sunrise enthusiasts, Hangzhou will not let you down neither. There are several sites good for sunrise shooting in Hangzhou. For the best sunrise photo experience, I personally favor Boshishan ( Precious Stone Mountain ), or 宝石山 in Chinese.

Baoshi Shan (Precious Stone Hill), the main body of the North Hill on the northern bank of the West Lake. There are several stone paths winding up to the hill either from the lakeside, or from its north hillside. Baoshi Shan is dotted with unique caves, Buddhist, Taoist shrines and weird stones or rocks. Of course, it is a perfect place to view a sunrise overlooking the downtown and the lake.

Sunrise taken on the top of Baoshi Shan

Just check online and get to know sunrise time in Hangzhou on a particular day, climb up the cobbled pathway with stone steps leading to the top rock place overlooking the slender Baoshu Pagoda and the West Lake.

It takes about 10 minutes’walk to clamber up a view point on a rock, where you will find many sunrise lovers waiting on several high places waiting for the sunrise – Sunrise over West Lake Hangzhou.

3. Best Place for Panoramic Photos of the West Lake and the City of Hangzhou
High-rise buildings are not allowed to be erected around the UNESCO crowned West Lake. But you still have some opportunities for panoramic photography of the West Lake and Hangzhou as a whole. There are three good options – taking pictures from Baoshi Hill, Leifeng Pagoda or Wu Hill (Wushan).

Leifeng Pagoda is situated on the Sunset Hill on the southern edge of the West Lake. First built in 975 AD, it was made of brick and wood with its base built out of bricks. On the afternoon of September 25, 1924, the pagoda finally collapsed due to disrepair. The new tower was rebuilt and opened on 25 October 2002. It has four sightseeing elevators, and modern facilities including air conditioners in the Pagoda, TV and speakers.

Panoramic Photos of the West Lake and the City of Hangzhou Viewed from Leifeng Pagoda

Panoramic Photos of the West Lake and the City of Hangzhou Viewed from Leifeng Pagoda

A huge iron and steel structure is built on the original base of the pagoda which has been kept in good condition. At the entrance to the pagoda there is one autonomous escalator to take visitors to up to the pagoda’s base. The four sightseeing elevators take visitors up to different floors for a bird-eye view of the West Lake and the city.
Check out How to Visit Leifeng Pagoda.

4. Best Location for Shooting the Mesmerizing West Lake and its Splendid Culture
Biking around the 15km West Lake or taking a stroll along part of its lake shoreline is a must for the first time visitors coming to Hangzhou.

On your circular lake tour, you have many photogenic opportunities for the great shots of the charming West Lake changing with lights and colors made at different time of a day and in different seasons of a year. People have their own favorite spots for interesting photos of the world famous lake. My favorite is Beishan Jie (Beishan Road or Beishan Street and 北山街 in Chinese ).

Beishan Jie literally means in Chinese “Northern Hill Street (北山街)”, also known as Beishan Road or Beishan Street in English. It lies between the Precious Stone Hill (宝石山) and the Northern Inner West Lake (北里西湖), a 3km long asphalt road starting from the Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge (断桥) to Yanggong Di Causeway.

Standing on the Beishan Roadside, shooting the pictures of the Bai Di Causeway and Gushan Island

Standing on the Beishan Roadside, shooting the pictures of the Bai Di Causeway and Gushan Island

Beishan Road is lined with the plane trees, which arch across the street, providing great shade. On the south of the Beishan Road is the Northern Inner West Lake (北里西湖), separated from the main West Lake by the Bai Di Causeway (白堤) bridged by Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge (断桥), the Jindai Bridge (锦带桥), and Gushan Island (孤山) linked to the Beishan Road by Xileng Bridge (西冷桥).

On its northern side is the Precious Stone Hill (宝石山) with the slender spire of Baoshu Pagoda on its top. Between the Beishan Road and the Precious Stone Hill ( Baoshi Hill) is teeming with the old mixed style of west and Chinese villas and historical sites on the base and the slope as well. Most of the buildings are the former celebrity homes and residences from the military, the government and the business circle in the 1920s.

Today, part of the old houses have been revamped and turned into trendy and fashionable bars and cafes. They also offer western food. Wandering the Beishan Street, you are immersed in the mesmerizing view of the lake, bridges, arch plane trees, the causeway, the Gushan Island where the “wife and crane son” happened.

So strolling along Beishan Road allows you to travel back in time to the old days and at the same time you have an ideal location to catch the natural beauty of the West Lake.

5. Best Spot for Shooting Night View of West Lake
The West Lake is the illustrious drawcard in Hangzhou. Walking on the edge of the West Lake in the early morning gives you much serenity while an evening stroll allows you to enjoy a casino-like wonderland.

Illunimated Baoshu Pagoda atop the Precious Stone Hill with its reflection on the water of West Lake

Normally the West Lake will be lit up on weekend evenings from Friday through Sunday, a great time to appreciate the beauty of the West Lake when it sparkles. You will have a lot of photography opportunities and at the same time you should prepare for possible crowds and people watch due to a lot of foot traffic.

One of the best spot to take a spectacular night photo of the West Lake is the Broken Bridge (断桥) where you can have a fantastic view of the brightly lit Baoshu Hill topped by its slim Baoshu Pagoda and the bridge itself turns into a fairyland. Night View of West Lake in Hangzhou.

6. Best Place for Shooting Spring Flowers
Spring in Hangzhou starts in March. Although spring is considered as the most beautiful season, it is highly variable, with frequent rain and alternating spells of warmth and cold. Walking along the West Lake, you could see the primroses waking up one after another.

Against the backdrop of the green leaves, petals are white like snow. How fascinating it is! Note: The best time to see the peach flower blossoms falls on late March and early April.

Baoshu Pagoda atop Baoshi Hill in the north of West Lake Viewed from Bai Causeway

As a garden city, Hangzhou has plenty of gardens and parks which fight for blossoms when spring comes. For me, the Bai Causeway is the best spot to appreciate peach flowers which are beautified by the budding and green willow trees planted side by side, creating a dazzling colors of red and green.

Just walking from the Broken Bridge (断桥) to Gushan Island (孤山) along the pedestrian only causeway, you will have many candid good photos of the green belt of the flowers and the tender West Lake.

7. Best Area for Summer Lotus Flower Pictures
Summer in Hangzhou starts in June, through July and August. In spite of being hot, sticky,buggy and humid, summer is the peak season for tourism in Hangzhou due to school holidays. Summers experience torrential rain quite frequently.

All this doesn’t deter tourists flock to the garden city, one of the most livable cities in China. Merciless summer sun is softened by the brilliant lotus flowers waking up in the ponds and parks in and around Hangzhou, presenting their beauty in the hot and humid weather. Shooting the pure and elegant lotus flower is many photographers’ desire whenever they have the chance.

There are around 500 varieties of lotus in bloom at the Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard (Qu Yuan Feng He), Guo Mansion (Guo Zhuang), Hangzhou Botanic Garden, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon (San Tan Yin Yue) and Hupao Garden.

Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Crooked Courtyard

Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Crooked Courtyard

Among the numerous locations for lotus flower shooting, Quyuanfenghe beats others, attracting many lotus flower enthusiasts to come here for great shots. “Quyuanfenghe” literally means ” Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Crooked Courtyard”.

8. Best Spot for Snapping Autumn Leaves
Autumn in Hangzhou is regarded as the most beautiful and fragrant season. You can smell a rich fragrance of Osmanthus while walking along the street. Autumn is generally sunny and dry, and the foliage season is in November. You can have a cruise on the West Lake in autumn.

You are kindly advised to skip over China National Holiday on October 1-7 when you plan your Hangzhou tour, since there are so many people during that time. Hangzhou’s fall foliage comes much later than the cities in the northern China such as Beijing (Mid-October – Mid-November). The local leaf peeping time starts at the end of November and the best fall foliage time falls on the whole December.

There are many choices for fall foliage photography in Hangzhou. Just name a few: Xixi National Wetland Park 西溪湿地, Ginkgo Trees at Zhaohui, Autumn View at Nine Creeks in Misty Forest 九溪烟树, Chinese Sweet Gum Trees along Longjing Road 龙井路, Red and Yellow Leaves along Lingyin Road 灵隐路, Autumn Color at Hangzhou Botanical Garden 杭州植物园秋色, Viewing Fish at Flower Harbor 花港观鱼秋色, Ginkgo Trees at the Solitary Island (Gushan) 孤山赏银杏 and Plane Trees Flanking Beishan Road 北山两旁的行道树-法国梧桐.

Plane Trees Flanking Beishan Raod

Plane Trees Flanking Beishan Raod

The Beishan Road is always my favorite place for catching the autumn hues by photo. Strolling along the time-honored Beishan road sandwiched by Baoshu Hill and the Northern Inner West Lake, you are buried in the golden belt of big and shady plane trees, losing no time snapping the great photos.
Check out Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Hangzhou.

9. Best Place for Wedding Photography
Hangzhou doesn’t lack the spots for wedding photos given its numerous gardens and landscapes around the West Lake. The most ideal place for wedding photography for many new couples would be Tai Zi Wan Park ( Prince Bay Park ) on the south of the West Lake.

Prince Bay Park is one of the most beautiful gardens in the West Lake Scenic Area. It is a garden with natural and man-made beauty. On one hand, it is a traditional Chinese landscaped garden with small rivers, charming pavilions, streams and ponds; on the other hand, it is modernly mixed with elegant western style of landscaping.

The Amazing Prince Bay Park

The Amazing Prince Bay Park

The locals, specially the young people come to this romantic place to get married, express love or hold other intimate gatherings. The park is also an ideal setting for wedding photography.

10. Best Pictures of the Hangzhou Old Streets
Hangzhou is an ancient city with a history of 2,200 years, well-known as one of the 6 major ancient capitals in the Chinese history. Hangzhou served as China’s capital during the Southern Song Dynasty ( 1127 -1279) .

The two main traditional and cultural streets form a pedestrian block, a revamped area formed during the former prime time of the Southern Song Dynast(1127–1279) when Hangzhou served as its capital about 800 years ago.

you are highly recommended to take a stroll along the Hefang Street (Qinghefang) and Zhongshan Road. The Qinghefang Street (清河坊) and Zhongshan Road Block (中山路 feed your eyes on the traditional Song Dynasty architecture s as well as the Western style buildings constructed in the years between 1912 and 1945 when China was governed by Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party. Check out Hangzhou Pedestrian Streets.

Foreign visitors are all smiles for the phots taken a Hefang Strreet.

Foreign visitors are all smiles for the photos taken a Hefang Strreet.

You will shop, dine and entertain in a healthy, pleasant car free outdoor activities. Strolling around the two areas give you a sense of traveling back to the old days in Hangzhou, an interesting opportunity to snap great shots.

Tip:  Hassle-free Hangzhou Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Hangzhou Guided Tours:

Hangzhou Classic Day Tour  from US$ 70 p/p
Hangzhou 3 day Tour Package  from US$ 365 p/p
Hangzhou – Wuzhen Water Town – Hangzhou Day Tour   from US$70 p/p
Hangzhou – Suzhou – Hangzhou Day Tour  from US$80 p/p
Hangzhou Huangshan Hongcun 3 Day by Car  from US$410 p/p
Hangzhou Car Rental

Further Readings

Any questions, just drop a line.

Hangzhou’s Best Bars & Nightclubs

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
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Plan your Hangzhou tour? If you are a bar or pub lover, Hangzhou will not let you down. Just like each major city has its own unique streets of pub, as a world famous leisure city, Hangzhou is not lagged behind in this regard.

Among the numerous bar and pub streets in Hangzhou, Nanshan Lu (or Nanshan Road) Bar Street is one of the best in terms of location, architecture, quality and taste.

As its name indicates, Nanshan Lu Bar Street is located on the south of West Lake between West Lake and Nanshan Road ( South Hill Road ). As you know, West Lake is surrounded by its three sides (north, south and west) with the east bordering the city center.

Some of the bars and nightclubs on Nanshan Road Bar Street are high-level villas built during the 1920s featuring western architecture.

I like the location of my lodging hotel in Hangzhou – Hanting Inn ( by China Academy of Arts ), on Nanshanr Road and a few steps away from West and not far from the traditional Qinghefang Street, a pedestrian street in Hangzhou. My hotel location is a fusion of fashion, tradition and romance.

Nanshan Road Bar Street

Chinese and Western style bar

A 1920s building turned Pub.

First Class Restaurant

La-Luna Cafe & Bar

A lake side bar and cafe

Tip:  Hassle-free Hangzhou Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Hangzhou Guided Tours:

Hangzhou Classic Day Tour  from US$ 70 p/p
Hangzhou 3 day Tour Package  from US$ 365 p/p
Hangzhou – Wuzhen Water Town – Hangzhou Day Tour   from US$70 p/p
Hangzhou – Suzhou – Hangzhou Day Tour  from US$80 p/p
Hangzhou Huangshan Hongcun 3 Day by Car  from US$410 p/p
Hangzhou Car Rental

Further Readings

Any questions, just drop a line.

Green Tea Picking and Tea Plantation in Hangzhou

Thursday, April 4th, 2019
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Plan your Hangzhou tour? Hangzhou is a garden city well known for its local specialities of Silk and Green Tea. Hangzhou’s green tea is sectioned into three kinds: Spring Tea, Summer Tea and Autumn Tea.

Spring tea is supposed to be the best of the three in terms of color and aroma. The green tea picked before and after the period of Tomb Sweeping Festival ( around April 05 each year ) is the champion of all green tea.

Dazhuang Village

Ayi Chen, working as a street cleaner in our community, is now on her 20-day leave to be back home in Dazhuang Village for picking tea. Her whole family is busy harvesting green tea, picking, frying and packaging.

A kind of nostalgia of my childhood experience picking green tea is returning to me. I cannot resist the temptation and rev up my black horse driving towards Ayi Chen’s home in Dazhuang Village, a tea farming village.

Every family has a three-storey building.

Back to my elementary school years, I still remember each year our school would arrange us to “learn from workers”, “learn from peasants” and “learn from soldiers”, with each for two-week time.

Every time we were engaged in one of the “three learnings”, we would be very happy simply because again we didn’t have to go to class for two weeks.

For “learning from peasants”, basically we would be assigned to work in a tea garden or plantation in a village in the outskirts of Hangzhou. Picking tea, we would stand for a whole day, thirsty and backache.

We all deeply felt that it was really not easy to be a tea farmer. 50 years have passed since then, but I still keep a tender emotion linking to tea picking and tea farmers.

I drive into Dazhang Village carrying my long lense camera, parking my car in the spacious yard in front of Ayi Chen’s three-floor building. The moment I get out of my car, I smell the light fragrance of fried tea.

Xiao Hu, Ayi Chen’s only son greets me and introduces me to his father who is working inside the shed on a corner of the yard. The shed is his father’s workshop, frying and packaging tea.

Beautiful TEa Plantation

Ayi Chen and her husband are both tea farmers, except his son – Xiao Hu who now works in the downtown of Fuyang District in Hangzhou. But each year, Xiaohu will be on 20-day leave helping his family harvesting green tea.

Ayi Chen herself is now picking in her government allocated tea plantation on a hillside, the size of about 3000 square meters. Her mother in law – Xiaohu’s grandmother is at the kitchen starting to preparing dinner. Xiao Hu works as a salesman, responsible for selling tea online or through words of mouth. What a tea family!

Xiao Hu and I walk from his home towards the tea gardens on hill slopes. On the route, he shows me around Dazhuang Village proudly. Each village family has a three-storey building with a big yard. And the village is situated in a beautiful valley.

Looking from a  distance, the village is like a clusters of gracious villa-type single buildings. Each house emits the fragrant smell of frying green tea. Xiao Hu says most of the villagers are very rich and they keep modesty and low profile. In his saying so, a deluxe SUV porsche is passing by.

Picking Tea

Xiao Hu introduces that they usually sell tea to big wholesalers, but more and more urban residents like to come to his village and directly buy tea from tea farmers in the village.

Exiting from the village, we walk along a muddy and narrow road winding up to the hills surrounding Dazhuang Village. Viewed from a distance, the tea picking girls are like colorful stars hanging on the green oil canvas.

Standing on the hilltop of his family’s tea plantation, he says if I came here half a month earlier, I would have caught a better view of the surrounding tea plantations with peach blossoms.

Back to his family, his grandmother insists that I should stay for dinner. No, please, but I will be back to Dazhuang Village, a pearl in the paradise of Hangzhou – my hometown.