With new high-speed rail lines increasingly connecting Hangzhou to the rest of China, nearby destinations are easier than ever to reach. Whether you want to explore bamboo forests, hike through rock peaks, learn about ancient China or simply enjoy a day by the lake, there are plenty of places around Hangzhou to explore on your days off this summer. Check out a few of our favourite weekend getaways and day trips from Hangzhou!
Huangshan, aka Yellow Mountains (黄山)
190 km west of Hangzhou
No matter your fitness level, a visit to the Yellow Mountains should be on every Hangzhou expat’s bucket list. Take one of the cable cars up or test your strength and conquer the stairs. Either way, you’ll be treated to majestic mountain views that will leave you quickly forgetting how out of breath you are. If you can, spend the night at one of the hotels on the top of the mountains. Once the crowds leave, find a spot to relax and simply take in all the views. There aren’t many places in the world with this many breathtaking views everywhere you look — take a moment to truly appreciate it.
Take the fast train from Hangzhou East Railway Station to Huangshan; the train ride takes an hour and 45 minutes and costs 120 RMB (single). From Huangshan train station take a bus into Tangkou town which is at the base of the Yellow Mountains for 23 RMB (about an hour journey). From Tangkou, there is another bus to one of the cable cars or hiking routes up for 19 RMB (around 20 minutes).
Things to do
Steps, steps and more steps – but they are all worth it. Once you’ve felt like you’ve thoroughly explored the Yellow Mountains, or your legs need a break, you can visit the hot springs at the bottom of the mountains or explore one of the nearby ancient villages.
Qiandao Lake aka Thousand Island Lake (千岛湖)
160 km west of Hangzhou
Renowned for its picturesque clear water, lush green backdrop and the 1,078 islands that are sprinkled throughout, this man-made lake is a well-known holiday hot spot for Hangzhou locals. A new high-speed rail route connecting Hangzhou to Qiandaohu (opened in late 2018) makes this summer-time destination even easier to explore.
Take the bullet train from Hangzhou East Railway Station to Qiandaohu. This journey takes about an hour and costs 70 RMB. From Qiandaohu station; you can take a taxi or shuttle bus to your accommodations. A typical taxi ride into town will take 30 to 45 minutes.
Things to do
One hundred and eight times the size of West Lake, Qiandao boasts an extensive network of bike paths, and it is easy to find bikes to rent. Sightseers can also explore the islands via boat or cool down with a swim in the lake. For beautiful panoramic views of the lake, take a taxi to Tian Yu and explore the unique viewing platforms.
Wuzhen Water Town (乌镇)
80 km north of Hangzhou
This quaint Water Town has more than six thousand years of history and is one of the most notable ancient towns in southern China. The fully preserved scenic areas are comprised of picturesque stone-paved alleyways, storefronts and connecting bridges.
Take the fast train from Hangzhou East Railway Station to Tongxiang. The train journey takes 17 to 30 minutes and costs 22 RMB. From Tongxiang take a taxi or public bus into Wuzhen, which takes about 45 minutes. There are also direct buses from Hangzhou Jiubao Bus Station, buses take two hours and leave every 20 minutes between 7:00 – 18:20, the ticket price is 32 RMB.
Things to do
The scenic area is divided into two different parts, East and West. The East Scenic Area is best explored in the morning and has traditional folk activities, including Chinese shadow puppetry. The West Scenic Area is especially charming in the afternoon/evening, and Venice-style rowboats can be hired for a trip down the waterway.
Mount Mogan, aka Moganshan (莫干山)
60 km northeast of Hangzhou
China boasts some of the highest and most technical mountain hikes in the world, but this isn’t the situation on Mount Mogan. The true allure here lies in the rolling green hills of tea fields and endless bamboo forests. Many of the trails meander through bamboo forests, rivers, waterfalls and the original European-style lodges.
Fast trains from Hangzhou to Deqing take 13 minutes and leave regularly from Hangzhou East Railway station (average cost is 16 RMB). From Deqing train station, you can pre-arrange transportation with your accommodation or arrange local transportation upon arrival. If you prefer the ease of direct travel, driving there from Hangzhou will take around 90 minutes.
Things to do
The main draw is the network of trails throughout the park; hikers of all levels can find a suitable path to explore. If hiking isn’t your activity of preference, some guesthouses offer bikes for rent and organise activities such as horseback riding, picking tea leaves and yoga. There is also a ‘Discovery Adventure Park’ which has zip-lining, hot air balloon rides, rope courses and climbing walls.
Want more information on these destinations? REDSTAR will be featuring in-depth articles on all these destinations in the coming months, beginning this month with Shayna’s piece on the Yellow Mountains. Read on and go out and explore!