Hángzhōu, capital of Zhèjiāng, is one of China’s most famous tourist sites. Located at the southern end of the Grand Canal and surrounded by fertile farmlands, the city has been a significant cultural centre for hundreds of years. Current-day Hángzhōu, with its characterless architecture, has little to differentiate it from other modern Chinese cities. The main reason for coming here is to visit the legendary West Lake (Xī Hú), a true beauty in the midst of a concrete jungle.
Praised by emperors and revered by poets, the lake has figured large in the Chinese imagination for centuries. With its willow-lined banks, ancient pagodas and mist-covered hills, being here is like stepping into a classical Chinese watercolour. Despite huge numbers of tourists, West Lake is a delight to explore, either on foot or by bike.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009