Expats living in Hangzhou will know why this city is nicknamed “Paradise on Earth.” As they say in the Ancient Chinese Proverb, 上有天堂,下有苏杭 (shàng yǒu tiān táng, xià yǒu sū háng). Hangzhou’s heritage is so rich that it is impossible to put into words. The city’s romantic scenery has been an inspiration for poetry throughout the ages and is often referred to as heaven on earth in China. Its beauty is legendary—encapsulated in the Chinese proverb as the best place to live. The capital of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou, lies on the east coast of China. It is the destination for the aptly named Grand Canal, which is known as the world’s longest man-made river. Such begins in Beijing and travels south for a thousand miles until it reaches Hangzhou. In addition, the city also serves as home to the Tea Fields of Longjing, a wonderful place to visit any time.

Life as An Expat in Hangzhou

You’ve probably wanted to travel to China, but you are still wondering which place is the best destination to visit first. If you ask your Chinese friends, 9 out of 10 will recommend Hangzhou. Hangzhou City is a combination of a modern city alongside a wide variety of natural sights (3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!) in China. It is a great blend of modernization and nature. Start the day with a morning dance or a jog along the lake, take a break in the green tea field, and drink local traditional Longjin Green Tea (龙井绿茶) while playing the famous and traditional Chinese board game, Mahjong (麻将).

Just 50 minutes away from Shanghai, Hangzhou delivers a more authentic, cultural experience while providing easy access to other major cities through the international airport or the biggest speed train station in the country.

Travel and Cultural Experience in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province. The subtropical monsoon climate contributes to varied seasonal sceneries, making Hangzhou one of China’s most popular travel destinations all year round. The West Lake is undoubtedly the most renowned landmark, noted for its scenic beauty that blends naturally with many famous historical and cultural sites. 

Another sacred spot in Hangzhou is the Lingyin Temple, which has been revered by several people due to its historical, social, and cultural value. Here, hundreds of Buddha statues have been carved into the rugged grottos and caves. The hike toward the peak itself serves as a spiritual pilgrimage for many Buddhists. The famous European explorer Marco Polo once wrote, ‘indeed, a voyage on this lake offers more refreshment and delectation than any other experience on earth.’ Moreover, other attractions like Qiandao Lake and Lingyin Temple also entice tourists to venture to Hangzhou each year. 

However, you can visit more attractions, such as:

Qinghefang Ancient Street is a section of Hefang Street which is located at the northern foot of Wu Shan Hill in Hangzhou. It has been the most flourishing street in the city since ancient times. During the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 AD), Qinghefang, along with its collection of shops, restaurants, and teahouses, was the center of politics, culture, and commerce in the city. After so many years, it is still a prosperous business area. 

Wuzhen Water Town, lying in the northern part of Tongxiang City, Zhejiang Province, is a typical ancient town in southern China. It is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from both Hangzhou and Suzhou and 140 kilometers (87 miles) from Shanghai. It preserves the ancient appearance well and oozes the charm of the water town itself. The small town is filled with houses made of black bricks and gray tiles that are sharply in contrast with the white walls, making it appear like a Chinese ink wash drawing. Stone bridges are seen here and there. Meanwhile, small boats with black awnings are floating on the murmuring rivers. 

Six Harmonies Pagoda represents the ancient pavilion-style tower in China. It is located on Yuelun Mountain to the south of the West Lake and is facing the Qiantang River. This structure is one of the three renowned pagodas in Hangzhou, accompanied by two other pagodas around the West Lake—Baochu Pagoda and Leifeng Pagoda. Furthermore, there is an Ancient China Pagodas Garden near the tower, displaying miniatures of famous pagodas around the country.

Come to Thousand Islets Lake and you will experience something special. With 81% of the area covered in forests, Thousand Islets Lake (Qiandao Lake) is a pure lake with clean, fresh air. It is a young lake formed in 1959 as a result of the construction of the New Anjiang Hydroelectric Power Station. It is a beautiful lake with 1,078 islets that exhibit different views in different seasons.

Xitang Water Town, which lies in Jiashan County in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, is a famous town with thousands of years of history. It dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC) and the Warring States Period (476 BC-221 BC). The town was a place of strategic importance on the boundary of the Wu and Yue states. Its flat terrain is marked by a quiet, natural environment with rivers running through it. People there, whether local residents or visitors, feel that this is a fairyland. They even have no idea as to whether people are wandering in the picture or the picture is moving in their hearts. The superstar Tom Cruise once filmed Mission Impossible III in Xitang, leading to the boom of Xitang’s popularity among tourists.

Bars & Nightlife in Hangzhou

Whether you are looking for intimate bars, great live music venues, or packed dance clubs, Hangzhou has got it all. The most popular bars and clubs can be found north of the West Lake, near the Yuquan and Xixi Campuses. You also can visit Shuguang Lu for the best bars and a bunch of watering holes near Ming Town Youth Hostel on Nanshan Lu.

Experience a wide variety of bars and clubs throughout the numerous streets of Hangzhou. Dine at one of the many restaurants that the city offers before immersing yourself into the Asian nightlife.

Meet locals or expats and make friends for a lifetime. Besides a large repository of cultural dining options, the city is packed with various world-acclaimed cuisines which can guarantee that you will get a taste of both local and international gastronomy.

Hangzhou’s nightlife has also started to earn more worldwide acclaim, so don’t be surprised to see top foreign DJs and performers gracing some of Hangzhou’s higher-end clubs. Here are recommendations from us:

EPL, NFL, NBA, NBL, F1—no matter what your sport is, College Bar is the place to watch it. Comprising of three spacious floors within a beautiful building, expats will also find it joyous to find many of their favorite Western drafts on tap.

Address: (Yugu Road) 3 Lanjia Wan

With two branches in Hangzhou, Mojito is one of the most popular student hangouts. Many late-nights have started at either the Zijingang or Yuquan branches. Look out for great deals on meals and drinks on different nights!

Address (Yuquan Campus branch):5 Lanjiawan

This dimly-lit joint is now a staple of Hangzhou’s nightlife scene. What starts off as a relaxed bar turns into a packed dance floor as the lights go down and one of Basement’s excellent DJs take the reins.

Address:23 Jiaogong Road

One of several bars and clubs near Huanglong Stadium; Libre is noted for its great music (Hip-hop/R&B on Fridays, Latin on Saturdays), affordable bar, and swimming pool! A great venue for relaxing on balmy summer days.

Address: 168 Yugu Road

One the Nothern tip of West Lake; this dance club has a good mix of foreigners and locals. International DJs occasionally come to play.

Address: 55 Hubin Rd, Shangcheng, Hangzhou

*Some tips: Join the several expats community groups to give you the latest updates and events in each bar and clubs. You can find more updates on the weekly entertainment magazine “More Hangzhou” (www.morehangzhou.com).

Learning Chinese in Hangzhou

Are interested in studying Chinese in China? If you are, Hangzhou should be a great option for you.  Not only because Hangzhou is a beautiful city, but the location of our school is also in the beautiful west lakeside. This city is one of the prettiest Chinese cities located less than one hour away from Shanghai. Also, studying Chinese in Hangzhou is cheaper than studying in Shanghai or Beijing. This city is very popular with Chinese tourists and international visitors. However, if you are looking for a beautiful and peaceful location to study, then you can’t go wrong with choosing Hangzhou.

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