While the winter chill is at bay, Hangzhou is a wonderful place to spend time out in the outdoors. There are numerous outdoor activities to do in this beautiful city, and here are just five suggestions on how to spend some quality time outdoors.
1) Fantastic Hiking Opportunities
Strap on a pair of good walking shoes and take to the surrounding hills. The West Lake is nestled amidst low lying mountains, and there are numerous good hikes to be found. What's more, most are free to enjoy, unlike many other places in China that charge a hefty entrance fee. Just north of the lake is Geling Mountain (also known as Mt. Baochu) which affords nice views of the lake, is an easy going hike, and has many temples to explore. There are a variety of paths to choose from, and one starting point is behind Yu Fei's Temple, as you turn up the road next to the KFC. For longer, more adventurous hiking pick any area from Xixi Road (north end) to Nine Creeks (south end), and don't forget to take some water and snacks.
2) Explore Hangzhou by Bicycle
Hangzhou as a city is mostly flat and easy to travel about on bike. With the many tree lined avenues and waterways, not to mention the lake, it's a great place to explore on bike. Getting a bike rental card (sign up near Wushan Square for 100 RMB + 200 RMB deposit) will entitle you to rent any of the red city bikes for 1 RMB an hour. Or you can rent a bike at one of the many locations around the lake. You will find bike rental companies for 5 RMB – 60 RMB an hour, plus a deposit between 300 RMB – 500 RMB with or without the need to leave an ID card. So shop around and choose from single or tandem style bikes, preferably with a lock so you can leave the bike when you stop at a cafe for refueling. Find a few suggested bicycle routes here or explore the west side of the lake by cycling to the Botanical Garden, the National Tea Museum or to Lingyin Temple, for a pleasant woodland ride.
Hangzhou is not short on water ways, and what better way to explore them then by boat. Hop aboard a large wooden boat heading for the small man-made islands for 45 RMB per adult. If you're not into crowds, hire a smaller Chinese style boat with a Chinese guide for a one hour cruise; this option is between 80 – 120 RMB. This boat usually has a table in the middle for a nice picnic out on the lake. You can also hire row boats and take yourself around the West Lake, but this option is quite a bit more expensive and depends on your haggling skills to get a reasonable price. Options away from the lake include the Grand Canal or Xixi Wetlands. It's cheapest to take a quick boat ride on the Grand Canal starting near Wulinmen Wharf located at 138 Huancheng North Road. A 30 minute round trip ride up and down the canal is 3 RMB/person on a hydro-autobus. Boats depart every 30 minutes, and stop running at 6 PM. They offer one night cruise starting at 7:30 PM and lasting one hour and forty minutes. The Xixi Wetlands offers even more boating opportunities with a 60 RMB/person option for a boat ride, or row boat hire for 100 RMB.
4. Outdoor Markets
No need to be stuck inside a mall when the weather is great. The Silk Culture Street on Jiankang Rd is a pleasant row of clothing shops situated between Fengqi and Tiyuchang Roads. Find all sorts of silk garments here, and don't forget to bargain down the prices. Heifang Street combines the romantic ancient feel of China with modern shopping. Sure, it might be a tourist trap, but it's an enjoyable one with many interesting things to see from artwork to tea shows. The Night Market goes into full swing as the sun is going down on the cross roads of Renhe and Huixing. This bustling place is full of cheap clothes and souvenirs, and closes down promptly at 10:30 PM.
Hangzhou seems to be a religious oasis of sorts, boasting many temples, both large and small. At the top of the list is the Lingyin Temple, with amazing carvings etched by Buddhist monks into the face of the mountain (35 RMB for grounds entrance). A trip into the Lingyin Temple itself also reveals some highly detailed wooden carvings (another 30 RMB for temple entrance). A lesser visited place is the Baopu Taoist Temple (5 RMB entrance fee); this may have something to do with it being difficult to find along the trails of Baoshi Hill, but if you persevere, the bright yellow temple will reward you with some stunning views of the West Lake.
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Keywords: outdoor activities Hangzhou outdoor markets Hangzhou hiking Hangzhou
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