When visiting Hangzhou one cannot miss a visit to one of the many tea villages that surround West Lake.
We decided to go to Longjing, which is 10 Km out of the city and about a 20 minute drive by taxi. We took a taxi’s since they are relitivly cheap in China and the trip cost around 5 EUR. Always make sure the meter is running when getting into a taxi in China. Driving without a meter is illegal for taxi drivers, so if a driver doesn’t have the meter on make sure you say something or be prepared that he is going to try and rip you off.
Longjing tea also known as dragon well tea, is a type of green tea that has been growing in this region for over 1200 years and is in the 10 top best teas in China. The town has a population of 800 and has many tea houses dotted around where you can try freshly picked Longjing green tea, or stop for a refreshment to admire the surroundings and people still practising ancient customs.
Tea is big business in China, one expects to go to a rural type village where you might see some forms of poverty, but like everywhere we visited in China things are completely the opposite of what you think. Parked along the plantations while workers pick the best tea leaves, we saw American muscle cars and quite a few sports cars. New meets old everywhere we went in China, even in an ancient rural tea village.
On our way back to Hangzhou we decided to walk the 10 Km back to the city. If you love to walk I can highly recommend this, the walk is filled with many surprises such as hidden Chinese gardens and amazing landscapes.
We were lucky enough that we had time to visit the ancient shopping street of Hefang. This is a street where you can easily spend a full day being mesmerised by the local shops offering food, art and Chinese trinkets.
Before going we read that a day trip to Hangzhou from Shanghai is enough. However, we spent 3 nights there and felt that we could have spent another 2 nights at least. Hangzhou is a truly magical city, where nature meets metropolis, spending a few days around West lake strangely gives you a feeling of some sort of inner peace. I say strangely as this is not something that is a common feeling in the west, yet here you get a glimpse of it.
Around the lake you can listen to locals sing karaoke, watch them dance the day away in the park or take a “Pleasure Boat” along the lake. Whatever you choose to do on your visit to this amazing city, you will leave wanting to go back.
Getting to Hangzhou from Shanghai: Take the subway to Hongqio Rail Station and buy a ticket for the bullet train to Hangzhou which costs about 10 euro per person each way. The journey doesn’t take longer than 1.5 hours.
Pictures by ScheiMedia Photography