HANGZHOU, ONCE THE CAPITAL, OF THE SOUTHERN SONG DYNASTY BOASTS BEAUTIFUL WATERWAYS WHICH DRAW IN MILLIONS OF VISITORS
Equally famous as the epicentre of China’s booming e-commerce economy, Hangzhou is surrounded by natural beauty that attracts millions of visitors
11 October 2019 | Staff Writers/Xinhua Asia Net (Image: Jade Masri)
Seven hundred years ago, famed Italian explorer, Marco Polo arrived in Hangzhou, he marvelled at both the size of the city and the advancement of its society. With some fifteen times the population of his native Venice, it was filled with bustling markets, restaurants and thousands of hot and cold baths.
He later wrote of his travels China, calling Hangzhou “the greatest city which may be found in the world.” Today in the city stands a statue in monument to this early European traveler, over the years millions upon millions more visitors have basked in its glory.
One of its most popular times is the Golden Week holiday period, beginning on the first day of October, China’s National Day and extending for seven days. This year Hangzhou welcomed 19 million visitors from across China, a six per cent increase from the previous year.
Increased tourist numbers are helped by the growing prosperity of China’s population, that prosperity also gives tourists many more options. The fact that Hangzhou is increasingly popular is a testament to the variety and beauty of attractions on offer.
LAKESIDE PANORAMA, MARCO POLO STATUE IN HANGZHOU AND CHINESE GIRLS CELEBRATE THE FESTIVAL IN TRADITIONAL DRESS (Images by Dan Ma & David Veksler)
Less than one hour from Shanghai by bullet train, history, culture and nature make Hangzhou a unique travel destination. The city’s centre boasts an ultramodern skyline and is perhaps best known abroad as the home city of global e-commerce giant Alibaba. It’s also home to three UNESCO world heritage sites, namely the West Lake, the Grand Canal and the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City.
The city enjoys scores of culturally and historically important sites, many of which can be dated back to the Neolithic period. Among them, the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City is recognized as an evidence of the Chinese civilization’s history of over five thousand years.
The world’s longest man-made waterway, China’s Grand Canal was started in the 5th-century BC. Not all of it is navigable today, but one can experience this engineering marvel in Hangzhou.
Today, Hangzhou is one of China’s most exciting destinations, a heady blend of nature, wonderfully preserved temples, pagodas and pavilions, and all within reach of the comforts of a modern metropolis. Even for the foreign business traveler, not taking time out from work to experience the wonders of Hangzhou, would be a wasted opportunity.