Credit: Nat Krause / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-2.0
Hangzhou was the emperor’s summer retreat in ancient times, and China’s capital during the Southern Song dynasty. The beautiful West Lake is the city’s focal point and its quintessentially Chinese scenery of lotus flowers, misty hills and pagodas makes it one of China’s top domestic tourist attractions. There are two causeways crossing the lake, which make for a lovely walk. There are numerous temples to visit, and Longjing village, home of the famous Dragon’s Well green tea #020, is nearby.
For an exclusive view of the lake, visit the West Lake State Guesthouse, which has counted Queen Elizabeth II, President Richard Nixon, and all of the Chinese political elite among its distinguished guests over the years. A pot of green tea at the hotel’s teahouse is a pleasant and relaxing experience against the beautiful backdrop. The hotel’s sculptured gardens and lake views are stunning.
For a meal, Shan Wai Shan restaurant is one of the city’s most famous. Located in the Botanical Gardens, a seat on the terrace among the bonsai trees makes for a lunch with a view. The succulent and tender “beggar’s chicken” is local must-have dish, as is the decadent dongpo rou, a single slice of meticulously prepared red braised pork #062.
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