Escape from West Lake: Hangzhou’s Other Noteworthy Destinations

Escape from West Lake: Hangzhou’s Other Noteworthy Destinations
By Kevin Sundeen , eChinacities.com

If you’ve lived or been staying in Hangzhou for more than twelve hours or so, you’ve almost certainly seen the West Lake. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s crowded. But after taking every visiting friend and family member to see the newly minted UNESCO World Heritage, you’ll probably be itching for some new, non-West Lake places to visit. After all, Hangzhou is a big city and there is much more to it than the West Lake and shopping downtown. So if you are looking for some variety then don’t worry because Hangzhou has that in spades, from other popular tourist destinations to quiet hiking trails. Below you’ll find some of Hangzhou’s best destinations away from the West Lake.

1) Lingyin Temple灵隐寺 View In Map
For hundreds of years, Lingyin Temple has been a main draw for Hangzhou-bound pilgrims/tourists from all over Asia. After paying 35 RMB to get inside the Lingyin Temple Park, you’ll find the admission price is well warranted as Lingyin is one of the ten most famous Buddhist temples in China. So expect a few pilgrims and locals kowtowing to Buddha and praying for money. To actually see the Lingyin Temple itself, you’ll need to fork out another 30 RMB for a ticket, but it’s well worth it: China’s largest wooden sitting Buddha sits inside the main hall, which towers over 36 metres.

Other highlights inside this ticketed area include the Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats. Hiking trails, caves, grottoes and small stone pagodas (including one housing the ashes of the Indian monk who founded Lingyin Temple) will easily take an afternoon to peruse. The hiking trails are an especially welcome respite from giant tour groups and their bullhorn-toting guides.

Add: 1 Fayun Lane, Lingyin Lu, Hangzhou
地址:杭州市灵隐路法云弄1号
Tel: 0571 8796 8665
Opening hours: 05:00–18:00
Getting there: buses 7, 807, Tourism Bus No. 1, 2 to Lingyin Temple station 灵隐寺

2) Grand Canal – Xiaohe Street小河直街View In Map
Lakes, rivers, canals—Hangzhou’s heart is water. One of history’s marvels of engineering, the Grand Canal in China flows right through Hangzhou, and although the canal doesn’t see the traffic it used to hundreds of years ago, the city has been pouring money into the canal area in the northern part of town in an effort to draw development and tourists away from the lake. Now, the canal area is becoming a thriving part of town like Hefang Street, complete with traditional artisans practicing and selling their trade on sidewalks. You should keep in mind that the canal area may be more scenic at night with all the lights on the banks.

Since China loves a good square, be sure to check out the square on Jinhua Road on a warm evening if you want to dance with hundreds of strangers. Transportation from the middle of downtown at Wulin Square is easy with the water taxis, which may be the most unique way to travel through the city.

Add: Xiaohe Jie, Gongshu District Hangzhou
地址: 杭州市拱宸桥小河直街 拱墅区杭州市
Opening hours: 24 hours
Getting there: buses: 38, 1 to Changzheng Bridge. Water Taxi: The Wulin Square station is on North Huancheng Rd. across from Hangzhou Tower. From 07:00 to 20:00, one bus every 50 minutes, 5 RMB for the ticket, get off at Gongchen Bridge station 拱宸桥

3) Baoshi Shan宝石山View In Map
This beautiful hill, located right smack dab in the middle of Hangzhou, is easy to get to from the popular 7 Club. From the bar’s main entrance there is a path which after 20 minutes of walking will lead you right to the top of Baoshi Shan. While you’re up there you can find some great places that overlook the city and lake, and if you spend some time wandering around the hill you’ll find the Baochu Pagoda, along with the Yellow Dragon and Qi Xia Caves, and Baopu Daoist Temple. There are other paths leading up the hill from Yellow Dragon Park and Yue Fei’s Temple, so it’s convenient to get to from a lot of different places and it is a great place to escape from the bustle of city life for a while.

Add: 43 Shuguang Lu, Hangzhou
地址: 杭州市曙光路43号
Getting there: buses 16,17, 28, 49, 92, 228, 282, 807 to Songmu Chang (松木场), the path up the hill is across from 7 Club.

4) Botanical Gardens 植物园View In Map
Wedding portraitists do big business here, and you should be able to guess why. One of the most beautiful places in the city, the Hangzhou Botanical Gardens are home to over 4,000 plant species and, especially in the spring weekends, easily to that many tourists. The park is divided into several different gardens, each having its own building housing a research center or museum, and you can access all of them with a 10 RMB gate ticket. Don’t expect a solitary stroll unless you go on weekday mornings, but it’s still a great place for a picnic or barbeque.

Add: 1 Taoyuanling
地址: 杭州市桃源岭1号杭州市
Tel: 0571 8796 1908
Opening Hours: 07:00 – 17:00
Getting there: buses 82, 15, 28, 7 to Botanical Gardens植物园

5) Chenhuang (Town God) Pavilion 城隍阁 View In Map
Visible from nearly anywhere in central Hangzhou on a clear night, Chenhuang (Town God) Pavilion provides one of the best views of the lake, the Qiantang River, and Hangzhou’s urban sprawl. Its perch on the mountain south of Wushan Square means you can hike up to get there, but it’s a pleasant hike on tree-lined paths that won’t leave you sweaty and breathless at the top. Even the pavilion, which is over 40 metres tall, has an elevator inside if you’ve really outdone yourself hiking up. If you’re into photography, this is the place to go, especially now that it’s summer and the air is relatively clear. So don’t let the 30 RMB ticket to the area, plus another 58 RMB to get into the pavilion itself stop you.

Add: 43 Liangdaoshan Lu (Wushan Square), Hangzhou
地址: 杭州市粮道山路43号杭州市
Tel: 0571 8701 1855
Opening Hours: 7:30 – 22:00
Getting there: Buses 8, 35, 38, 40, 814, 818, K807 to Wushan Square, then a pleasant hike.

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Keywords: fun locations Hangzhou Temples in Hangzhou Grand Canal Hangzhou botanical gardens Hangzhou

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