Hangzhou is a city with many faces. Over its misty mountains, you’ll find a serene, pagoda-lined lake sitting alongside glistening skyscrapers of its metropolitan centre. And while its core may be ultra-modern, this 2000-year-old city is packed with history, from its cobblestone streets of the old district to its centuries-old tea plantations. It’s a place where you can seek out China’s ancient history by day and explore its bright lights and vibrant nightlife after sunset.
Hangzhou hostels range from city-centre contemporary pads to more traditional buildings. Some put you close to the banks of the lake, where you can experience Hangzhou’s village life, while others offer cosy communal spaces and chilled reading corners, or high-tech areas with motion-sensing games. Most have on-site bars and all feature free Wi-Fi. If you’re after a Hangzhou hostel with a view, check out places with mountain-facing terraces or gardens.
Hangzhou is full of interesting districts. Xihu is where you’ll find the city’s natural landscapes like West Lake and the Xixi National Wetland Park. To the north is the downtown area, which is made up of two main districts – Shangcheng and Xiacheng. These are home to large shopping malls and restaurants, as well as the city’s Old Town around Hefang Street. On the outskirts of the city centre is the Yuhang District, known for its forest parks and the plum-blossom filled Chaoshan Hill.
Discover the "Ten Scenes of West Lake", a 13th-century guide to the best scenic spots around the lake. It’ll take you to lotus pools, the Leifeng Pagoda and, depending on what season you visit, snow-covered bridges. Nestled in the Wulin Mountains, you’ll find Lingyin Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China surrounded by carved limestone hills. A short drive from here will take you to the Longjing tea fields. Trek through the hills before heading down to the small village below for green tea.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (30km from the city centre) has flights from major Chinese cities, and international connections too. From the airport, you can get a shuttle service into town. From Shanghai and other cities, you can catch a bus or a train into Hangzhou. When you arrive, use the Hangzhou Bike Hire Scheme to get around or hop on the bus. There's also a metro line that runs along West Lake to the northeast of town.