Hángzhōu 杭州

In the 15th century, Marco Polo wrote that Hangzhou was “the City of Heaven, the most magnificent in all the world.” While it goes without saying that leaving such an impression on Marco Polo is no small task, Hangzhou has a loveliness that you really need to see to believe. The city may not have quite the majesty of its Song Dynasty heydays, but it’s still considered one of China’s Seven Ancient Capitals and is without question one of the country’s most beautiful cities. Besides the relaxing, tree-lined streets of Hangzhou, it is the tranquil expanse of water known as West Lake that serves as the city’s trademark. Each of Hangzhou’s four distinct seasons bring its own fine character to the water’s edge, and you can be sure that at any time of year China’s most famous lake will be swarming with visitors.The rest of Hangzhou’s charm comes from the locals, who can be found playing mahjong, sipping green tea and dancing to their friends’ operatic tunes throughout the green spaces of the city. Rounding out the attractions, a sprinkling of pagodas and bridges, as well as a set of famous tea fields, mean that breezy Hangzhou offers enough to warrant setting aside several days.

 

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