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Hangzhou makes for an idyllic day or multi-night escape from Shanghai. Here are the best things to see and do in China’s magical city:
1. Rent bikes. Locals can rent bikes from a slew of racks across the city by swiping their ID cards. But if you’re just visiting Hangzhou, you can go to the rental area on Hubin Lu near Pinghai Lu, where you’ll need to leave your ID (not your passport) and a RMB300 (US $47) deposit. Cycling around the lake is easy way to take in the picturesque landscapes.
2. Visit West Lake. In addition its tea fields, West Lake is what makes Hangzhou famous. The beautiful, serene body of water was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011. You can stroll the lake’s shady banks, cycle all the way around or take a ride in a traditional wooden boat.
3. Pick tea. Hangzhou is home to loads of longjing (green) tea fields. After touring the fields and hearing about the harvesting process, you can pick your own tea.
4. See a show. Zhang Yimou, best known for directing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, is also the brains behind a dazzling nightly performance that takes place on West Lake called “Impression West Lake.” No need to buy tickets in advance — you can purchase them right before the show starts.
5. Visit China Academy of Art. China’s first comprehensive art school is a stone’s throw from West Lake. Its galleries and leafy campus are open to the public, and there’s a quaint coffee shop with outdoor seating to take a break.