4D3N in Hangzhou – Enjoy the City’s Spectacular Scenery
April 27, 2019
Hangzhou is famous for its incredible scenery, rich cultural heritage, tea, silk, nearby ancient water towns and food. There are too many activities to do and sights to see in Hangzhou that 4 days 3 nights might not be sufficient. I wished I had more time to explore this vibrant city, but had to make do with the short stay. If you’re like me and only have a few days to visit Hangzhou, this 4D3N itinerary might be useful for you.
Day 1 – West Lake
The West Lake is extremely huge, so it’ll be best if you explored on a bicycle or boat. However, I enjoy taking long walks when the weather is good, so I started the walking journey at the Broken Bridge. This is the most well-known bridge among all the big and small, ancient and modern bridges around the West Lake due to the Legend of the White Snake.
After crossing the Broken Bridge, I continued along the Bai Causeway to the Solitary Hill, followed by the Xiling Bridge. You’ll come across the Temple of General Yue Fei, and if you’re wondering … The Impression West Lake night performance is situated nearby. I decided to cross the Su Causeway, and managed to catch the last of the spring blossoms. While crossing this causeway, you’ll get to enjoy the spectacular view of the artificial islands. Visits to the islands are possible via the cruise boats.
When you finally reach the other side of the Su Causeway, you can choose to visit the Prince Bay Park or the Leifeng Pagoda. The Prince Bay Park (太子湾公园) features dreamy cherry blossoms and colourful tulips in the months of March and April respectively. It’s a relaxing place to spend an afternoon at. The Leifeng Pagoda, on the other hand, allows you to tackle your fear of heights by ascending the pagoda to get a panoramic view of the West Lake.
Last but not least, there’s the Yang Causeway which brings you very close to the mountains. You can stop by the Hangzhou Flower Nursery before ending your West Lake adventure at the Hangzhou Botanical Garden.
If you’re still in the area in the evening and do not wish to pay exorbitant prices to watch the Impression West Lake performance, I recommend watching the West Lake Musical Fountain. This fountain light show is free of charge and takes place for 15 minutes every night. I’m not too sure about the timing but there are multiple shows that take place between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. To find out more, read my comprehensive guide on the West Lake here.
Day 2 – Eight Diagram Field (八卦田) & The Grand Canal (京杭运河)
I began the second day at the Eight Diagram Field. Although the octagonal shaped field is made up of eight pieces of land, with a symbol of Yin and Yang in the middle, you will not be able to distinguish it at ground level. I recommend ascending the Jade Emperor Hill for a bird’s eye view of the Eight Diagram Field. I heard that you would have to climb hundreds of steps (perhaps, a thousand) to reach the peak, so lazy me decided to fly the drone instead.
The Eight Diagram Field was formerly used for rituals by emperors to pray for good harvest in ancient times. Today, each piece of land is used to grow a different crop like soybean, barley, wheat, millet, and glutinous rice, just to name a few. However, there are times when the farmers grow sunflowers, rapeseed, and other colourful blossoms. You can always check with the locals before visiting this field when you’re in Hangzhou.
Apart from taking a leisure stroll around the field, or a short hike up to the peak of the Jade Emperor Hill, you can also wander around the streams and temples around the area.
Eight Diagram Field
Address: Baiyun Road, Shangcheng District, Hangzhou, China 310002
In the afternoon, I stopped by the Grand Canal and was very surprised that there were very few people at the Grand Canal even though this is one of the listed UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in Hangzhou. Also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, this is the earliest and longest artificial waterway in the world. It begins from Beijing in the north, with its final section at Hangzhou in the south, with a total length of 1,776-kilometres. There is a park along the canal, and two historical areas that have been restored and preserved. You can also find various shops and restaurants along the river and the nearby lanes and streets. There are some shopping malls around the area too. You can savour delicious Hangzhou cuisine around the Grand Canal in the evening before returning to your hotel to rest.
Day 3 – Longjing Tea Picking Experience & Fei Lai Feng Scenic Area
Instead of picking tea at the Longjing (龙井) Tea Village aka Dragon Well Tea Village, I went to the Meijiawu (梅家坞) Tea Village. I visited the farmer who has been the head of the Meijiawu Tea Village for 30 years. His family has been tea farmers for many generations, and he has received many Chinese and foreign dignitaries throughout the years.
Tea picking is an extremely tough job. There were 12 of us in the half-day tour group, but we couldn’t even fill up one basket with all our picked tea leaves combined at the end of the 2-hour tea picking session. A pair of experienced hands can only pick 600 grams of leaves a day, which can be dried to only around 130 grams of Longjing tea. Unbelievable, isn’t it?!
We were treated to a tea-tasting/tea ceremony session, and I really enjoyed the taste of the Longjing tea. This particular farmer also gave us special access to view the elegant silk outfits with intricate embroidery details.
We ended the half-day tour with a scrumptious spread of local food. Lotus roots and bamboo shoots are not what I’ll usually eat back at home in Singapore, but the dishes in Hangzhou are so well prepared and well flavoured that I couldn’t resist. If you’re interested in the history of Longjing tea and the full review on my tea picking experience, click here.
In the afternoon, I took a taxi and went to the Fei Lai Feng Scenic Area. I’ve visited numerous temples across Asia during my trips, but I never expected myself to be incredibly impressed by the Fei Lai Feng (飞来峰) Scenic Area. I thought that this place will just be similar to other temples around Asia, but The Flying Peak aka Peak Flown From Afar, and the Lingyin (灵隐寺) Temple aka Temple of Soul’s Retreat were pretty unique. The scenic area exudes a strong, sacred Buddhist atmosphere, and there are many legends about the name of the peak. I’ve previously shared a full article on this place, so click here if you want to know about the legends and get directions to the scenic area.
Fei Lai Feng Scenic Area
Take Bus 7, 324, 807, j1 or y2, and alight at Lingyin Station.
Take bus 103b, 103, 121b, 121 or 324, and alight at Lingyin Dong Station.
Opening Hours: 7am to 6.15pm daily.
Admission Fee: 45RMB for entry to Fei Lai Feng Scenic Area, and 30RMB for entry into Lingyin Temple. Do note that if you want to visit the Lingyin Temple, you have to enter the Fei Lai Feng Scenic Area first and cannot avoid the admission fee.
Day 4 – Wuzhen Water Town
Taking into consideration the travel time from Hangzhou to Wuzhen Water Town and back, you would definitely need an entire day for this attraction. Established over 1,300 years ago, Wuzhen Water Town (乌镇水乡) is one of the top six ancient towns in the southern region of the Yangtze River. Due to its fertile land, the water town has been praised as a land with abundant rice, fish and silk since the olden days. The little bridges connecting streets along the river, houses on the banks and stone-paved alleys give Wuzhen Water Town a nostalgic charm. Although some people dislike its commercial atmosphere and the crazy crowds, I felt that the restored architecture and canals in Wuzhen Water Town are still worth a visit. The water town is divided into 4 areas – the eastern and western parts are scenic zones which require an entry ticket while the southern and northern parts are living quarters for the locals. Check out my complete guide to help you plan your trip to Wuzhen Water Town.
Does my itinerary sound a little too overwhelming? To be honest, the attractions and activities are pretty spread out so you will not feel as though you’re rushing through your day just to see everything. I hope you’ll enjoy discovering the charms of Hangzhou as much as I did.