The calm waters and sublime sunsets of West Lake (Xihu in Chinese), surrounded by meandering hills, have made Hangzhou a cherished retreat for emperors, artists, and writers throughout history.
Today, this fast-growing city has become a popular destination for those wishing to enjoy its shaded parks, ancient temples, and refined pace of life.
Though weekend crowds threaten the becalming ambience, Hangzhou easily merits a couple of days respite from the relentless pace of modern China.
A little outside town, the new Liangzhu Culture Museum offers an insight into one of the country’s earliest and most significant civilizations. Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the museum is built on the site where archaeologists uncovered the treasures of the Liangzhu people, who lived on a fertile plain of the Yangtze river delta around the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs. One of the first cultures to use plow agriculture and irrigation systems, the Liangzhu were skilled craftsmen who created black-burnished pottery, lacquerware and jade implements, cooking vessels and burial disks.
Comprising a series of courtyards radiating inwards from a man-made lake, the museum showcases the unearthed treasures of this Neolithic “Jade Culture,” dating back 5,000 years.
Getting There and Around Hangzhou has a large airport, well served by international and domestic airlines. It is also easily accessible by rail and road from Shanghai, 112 miles (180 km) away. The Liangzhu Culture Museum e dining rooms.
Where to Stay The exquisitely landscaped gardens of Xihu State Guest House, situated on West Lake, make for an idyllic stay.
When to Go Catch the spring blossom (Apr–Jun), or fall mists (Sep–Oct).
Budget per Day for Two US$110–40