Hangzhou is currently undergoing rapid expansion to make it a bustling rival to its big brother Shanghai. The city is developing at an incredible pace with huge skyscrapers springing up in a matter of months, apartment complexes that would rival those in Dubai and new expressways circumventing the city to link it quicker and more efficiently to Hangzhou International Airport. All of this will no doubt serve as a huge boost to the economy, pitting Hangzhou against the big players now that it is being recognised as an emerging “1st tier” city; but what about the transport system? How does this fare against the massive changes taking place? Alongside the building works we now have a new transport system being developed in the form of a metro that will see us zipping around the city in next to no time!
The Hangzhou metro opened in November 2012 and at the moment, only Line 1 is operational with Line 2 and part of Line 4 still currently under construction as part of phase 1. Line 1 runs from the north east at Linping and Xiasha in a ‘Y’ shape over to West Lake and then south, crossing the river into Binjiang. It operates daily on nine minute intervals which have recently been increased to 4 minutes 45 seconds during rush hour, making the metro a very convenient and easy way to travel. Prices range from 2 RMB to 8 RMB per ticket based on the length of your journey – the more stations you travel through, the higher the ticket price.
Below is the Hangzhou Subway Planning Map with Line 1 in red:
So, what is there to see and do on the newly-launched metro? Let’s take a look at some places of interest along the way.
1) Hangzhou East Railway Station杭州东站
The new East Railway Station opened in July 2013 and is the largest rail transportation hub in China and, rumour has it, in Asia. With many transfers into the city directly from the station including a taxi rank, bus station and the metro, this amazing feat of architecture showcases Hangzhou’s movement from a traditional town, to an emerging, modern city.
There are proposals in place to link it with the Maglev Train to go directly from Hangzhou to Shanghai. This would be a fantastic way of connecting the two cities since the bus takes three hours and the bullet train one hour. The Maglev line could potentially cut this to just 30 minutes!
Photo courtesy of www.topchinatravel.com
2) West Lake Cultural Square西湖文化广场
West Lake Cultural Square is the tallest building in the city and houses the Zhejiang Natural History Museum (浙江省博物馆武林馆区) and the Zhejiang Science and Technology Museum (浙江省科技馆). If you leave by Exit C, head over to the canal and spend some relaxing time watching the numerous boats and barges that sail along here. Afterwards, you could enjoy a film at the Cinyo International Cineplex (新远国际影城).
3) Wulin Square武林广场
One stop over from West Lake Cultural Square, a plethora of shops abound at Wulin Square as it’s the location of Hangzhou Tower, the shopping centre that is home to Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Armani to name but a few. Wulin Square is located at the intersection of Huancheng North Road (皇城北路) one of the main arterial routes through the city that connects east to west, therefore this area is always heavy with people and traffic. There are countless restaurants both in and around Hangzhou Tower to try out when you’re feeling peckish after a heavy day of sightseeing and shopping.
4) Fengqi Road凤起路
This is one of the two stops that you need to get off at if you want to visit the famous West Lake. Conveniently located about a 5-10 minute walk away, this station is in a very busy, centralised area of town with a variety of shops, restaurants and hotels nearby. If you take exit C and head south you will come to the huge Mary Kay building at the intersection of Yan’an Road which is home to Meters Bonwe (the Chinese equivalent of H&M). Take a right at this junction and you will reach the part of the lake that offers amazing views of the dragon boats that are moored there. This Google Walking Map shows the direction to take. With a spectacular light show in the evenings shown every 30 minutes – on the hour and half past – until 21:00, this is a sight you can’t afford to miss.
5) Chengzhan (Hangzhou Railway Station) 成站
Home to the Railway Station, which is still in use and extremely busy. It is slowly being superseded however by the new Hangzhou East Railway Station. It’s a very tired, old looking building in need of some upgrading but it still handles a huge volume of commuters daily.
Want to do something more traditional and explore the sights of the old Hangzhou? Then get off at Chengzhan and you’re a 15 minute walk to Hefang Jie (河坊街), the scenic pedestrian shopping street located at the foot of Wushan Hill. This bustling, ancient shopping street houses the Drum Tower Antique Market ( 鼓楼古玩市场) at its entrance with a vast array of street sellers and artists peddling anything from glass wares, bamboo cups, silk scarves, Chinese crafts and tasty Chinese delicacies as well as teahouses to wet your whistle and much, much more. Take a stroll along this famous street and soak up the sights of the real China. Make sure you have your camera handy as the historical buildings here have been preserved from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Opening Times: 08:00 – 17:00
This is the second stop you need to alight at if you want to head to West Lake and the shopping district. Make a day of it and after seeing the lake and its beautiful views, head to Hubin Yintai (InTime) – the massive department store located on Yan’an Lu that houses Gap and other famous brands or try out Lixing Department Store for well-known brands such as Mango, H&M, Bershka and Zara. Why not continue into the evening, by heading over to Wushan Night Market (夜市) from 18:00–22:30? Practice those haggling skills and savour the atmosphere of hunting for the best deals alongside the locals.
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Keywords: Hangzhou metro system Hangzhou’s metro line 1
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