Hangzhou, China’s most Romantic City

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What to See and Do in China’s Most Romantic City…….

When Marco Polo visited Hangzhou, China 800 years ago, he was so taken with this beautiful city that he observed:  “In heaven, there is paradise; on earth there is Hangzhou.”    Those words resonate today as visitors continue to be captivated by the natural beauty of this dynamic city.  The storied West Lake with its scenic islands, the mountains framing the city, and the numerous temples, pagodas and parks have been an inspiration to artists and poets throughout the centuries.   While Hangzhou is re-creating itself as a modern city, its culture is still found in its waterways, temples, old-style shopping streets, cuisine, and museums.

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There are lots of festivals in Hangzhou which are well worth checking out.  But if there are no festivals when you visit Hangzhou, you’ll still have plenty to do.  Here are some suggestions:

1. Be sure and try Hangzhou’s distinctive cuisine.  It is light, crisp, refreshing and tender and has been recognized since the Han Dynasty (206 BC- AD220)  Best known is Dongpo Pork, a braised pork dish, named after the famous poet Su Dongpo; West Lake Sour Fish, integrating sweet and sour tastes with tender fish; West Lake shrimps cooked with tea; and Jiaohua Young Chicken, baked over low heat.  Look for bamboo shoots in many dishes

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2. If you go in October, The Hangzhou International Food Festival is staged over a one week period to celebrate the city’s unique cuisine.  You’ll find recipe and cookbook competitions and a variety of cooking demonstrations.

3. Some noteworthy restaurants include Lou Wai Lou at No. 30, Gu Shan Lu; Zhi Wei Guan at No. 83, Ren He Lu; and Shan Wai Shan, 18 Yang Gong Di, Xihu district.

4. Hangzhou is well known for its excellent silks which are exported all over the world.  The National Silk Museum has eight exhibition halls that take you through the history of silk to modern ways of production.  A fragment of the earliest silk ever discovered is here – it is over 5000 years old.  Once visitors see how silk is woven and dyed, they may participate in the process at the Museum.  Admission is free.

5. The Hangzhou International Silk Festival takes place every October and celebrates the unique history of silk manufacture, dye, and artistry for which the city is known.

6. Leaving the Silk Museum, head to Hangzhou Silk City at No. 253 Xinhua Road.  This is an excellent market to purchase a wide variety of pure silk fabrics, garments, handicraft articles, scarves, and ties.  You’ll marvel at the numerous varieties of silk, the good quality and the magnificent colors.

7. Hangzhou’s Longjing Tea (Dragon Well Tea) has a very long history and is considered China’s best.  It’s famous for its unique green color, aroma,  sweet taste and is regarded as a health elixir.  The best is the first pick of a year, normally in late March or early April.  To learn more about tea and the tea ceremony, head over to Meijiawu Tea Village near West Lake.  Here they serve exquisite tea and offer many tea ceremonies.  This experience will afford you the opportunity to understand why the tea ceremony is important to the Chinese.

8. The Dragon Well Tea Festival is hosted by the villagers of the Dragon Well tea plantation from April 8th until May 8th.  Domestic and international tea connoisseurs come to Longjing to pick tea, participate in tea ceremonies and learn about the benefits of green tea.

9. The powerfully fragrant Osmanthus is the official flower of Hangzhou.  It perfumes the air during the summer months, culminating with the Osmanthus Festival in September.  On both sides of the main roads, thousands of Osmanthus trees are in full bloom and colorful tents are erected for visitors to enjoy a variety of cultural performances.

10. End with a little night music.  Impression West Lake is an extraordinary show that takes place on the lake and is presented all year long except in the cold winter months.  The vivid performances tell stories of the legend of West Lake with light, music, dance and theatrics.  The stage is built just below the surface so the actors appear to be dancing on the water.

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For more information on what’s happening in Hangzhou, visit www.gotohz.com

Shared by Montgomery Communications

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