An English Teachers Tour of Hangzhou: All The Essential Information You Need
Hangzhou is one of the rich and prosperous cities in China. It is the capital of Zhejiang Province in China. Also known as the Tea Capital of China Hangzhou boasts of a glorious history and culture.
Hangzhou is generally warm all year round. It experiences four clear-cut seasons. Spring is wet and rainy, the summer season is hot and humid, autumn is cool and clear while winters are dry and cold. Besides that, there are two rainy seasons; the plum rainy season in June to July and the heavy rain season in August and September. The best time to visit Hangzhou is during spring and autumn which run from March to May and from September to November respectively.
Air transport is available at Xiaoshan International Airport which caters for both international and domestic travel. There are three railway stations in Hangzhou and high-speed lines connecting Hangzhou to other major cities in China. Long distance buses and intercity buses enable travel to and from other major cities. Metro buses, city buses, taxis, and public bicycle allow movement within the city of Hangzhou. Water transport is available on West Lake and Qiangtang River. Ships, boats, ferries, and water buses are used to move passengers and cargo across the lake, river and the Grand Canal.
There are over 200 sites and attractions you could visit when you travel to teach in China. Most are accessible using metro buses, taxis, bikes or walking. I will highlight a few of the most popular attractions in Hangzhou.
West Lake (Xihu)
The view of this lake is mesmerising. A series of hills rises over the lake waters at the horizon. Human-made islands beautifully dot the lake and are great places to unwind. The shores of the lake have stunningly contoured walkways lined with benches, parks, and gardens with delightful views. Activities such as ballroom dancing, opera singing and other cultural events take place around the lake. Accessing the West Lake is free, and charges from services received during the visit are paid for.
This is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist Temples in China. It is beautifully built with great agricultural designs. The Hall of Four Heavenly Kings has an ornate cabinet that houses the future Buddha. The Great Hall has a huge statue of Siddharta Gautama rising to a height of 20 metres. There are 470 Buddhist carvings lining the riverbanks and hillsides. From this temple, you can also access other sites such as Yongfu Temple, Taoguang Temple and the Northern Peak by use of cable cars. Entry charges into Lingyin Temple range between 30-45CNY (4.50-6.75USD).
Qinghengfang Old Street
Old street is a pedestrian street buzzing with business activities round the clock. Here, you will find tea houses and cafes, gift and curio shops as well as souvenir and speciality shops. You may also purchase different brands of silk and ginseng in the stalls. This street is known for traditional Chinese herbal medicine and supplements.
There are a number of water towns in Hangzhou. Wuzhen, Xitang, and Nanxun are some of the popular ones. Water towns are ideal for photography and boat riding. They are adorned with bridges, narrow lanes, water sidewalks, canals, and ancient buildings. You can enjoy the ambiance of the towns from the shops, bars, and furnished accommodation. Admission into water towns varies between 80-150CNY (12-22.50USD).
Six Harmonies Pagoda/Liuhe Pagoda
This pagoda was built to control the tidal flatulence of Qiantang River. Find your way to the top of the Pagoda and enjoy a lovely view of the river below. Next to Liuhe Pagoda is a park where locals showcase Chinese history and culture. You may enjoy these performances as you dine in any of the restaurants located here. Entry into this pagoda ranges between 20-30CNY (3.0-4.5 USD)
There are many hotels, motels, hostels, and apartments where you can put up for a few nights when you travel to teach in China. Most of them are located in the city or very close to the city where you can easily walk or use a taxi to get to Hangzhou City. Their services are excellent, offering large, spacious, air-conditioned private rooms. Most provide free parking, restaurant services, internet services, gymnasiums, spas, swimming pools, laundry services, restaurants, room service, airport shuttle services and banquet facilities. A few will allow you to bring your pet with you. Westlake 7 Service Apartments, Tea Boutique Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel, Ho Fang International Youth Hostel, Hangzhou Tangting Qingzhiwu Homestay, Camphor Tree Boutique Hotel, and Yushan Hotel are just a few of hotels you could visit in Hangzhou. Hotel charges range from 33-1499 USD per night depending on where you choose to stay.
Pop into any restaurant in Hangzhou and enjoy their local cuisines. Most meals go for 3-48CNY (0.45-7.20USD) per serving. Most importantly, the restaurants serve free tea and snacks while you wait for your meal to be prepared. Grandmas Restaurant on Hubin Road is one of Hangzhou’s popular spots. Its location offers a view of West Lake. Try their local cuisines such as Po Cou Fu, chilli shrimp, tea flavoured chicken, Grandma’s fish balls and Mapo Tofu (a dessert of sticky rice and lotu seeds). Green Tea restaurant is famed for its tea variety. Enjoy cuisines such as eggplant clay pot and Cantonese bread. Other restaurants you could visit in your course of teaching English in China are Zhongshan South Road Food Street, Na Fang Mi Zong, Innocent Age Book Bar, Carbon, and Louwailou among others.
Shopping in Hangzhou
There are plenty of places to shop for different items in Hangzhou. Malls and departmental stores are a common feature in this city. You can shop for your household goods, electronics, cosmetics, jewelry, clothes, shoes and bags in MIXC mall, Hangzhou Tower Mall, Intime Departmental stores, Xie Bai New Century Mall and other departmental stores located on Wuling Road.
Ginseng Shopping Mall is known for its sale of herbal medicine, roots and natural supplements. Hangzhou Tea Market has some of the best tea in China. The tea is popular for its sweet taste, unique colour and tantalising aroma.
Hefang Street has a collection of souvenir shops where you can purchase local craftworks, unique antiques, handiwork and jewellery.
Saturday Morning Antique Market is only open on Saturdays from early morning to early afternoon. Dealers display their unique wares comprising craftworks, handiwork, and artefacts. If you want to get the best deals, arrive early and strike a bargain with the seller. The Silk Market has shops and stalls that stock silk ware. You can purchase scarves, ties, fabrics, suits, dresses, and garments made of silk. Finally, the East of China Porcelain Markets sells pure porcelain products. They can be sculptures, dolls, vases or figurines all in beautiful and pleasant colours.
If you like to pass your night over a drink and some music, you have plenty of choices in Hangzhou. Cafes and teahouses such as Chen Huang Tea House, Lei Feng Ge, and Qing Teng Tea House will give you a variety of tea and other hot beverages to sooth you. There are also plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs where you can enjoy drinks and cocktails- alcoholic and non-alcoholic as you enjoy Hangzhou nightlife.
Maya Bar, 1944, Top Red Prestige Club, Irish Pub, Amigo Bar, Reggae Bar and Shamrock are some of the popular bars and clubs you could visit.
If you love karaoke, Yu-Ting Theme KTV will be of excellent service to you. If you are a lover of jazz music, Jazz Night and Day, as well as Hangzhou Jazz Bar, should be your stop. Movies and live performances are available at Hangzhou Grand Theatre. For lovers of night adventure, enjoy night cruises at West Lake and Grand Canal and enjoy the spectacular view of waters by night.