Places to Visit Outside Shanghai // Hangzhou

Places to Visit Outside Shanghai // Hangzhou, One of China’s Gems

Location of Hangzhou

Located just 180km (112miles) away, Hangzhou(杭州 Hángzhōu)is one of the perfect places to visit outside Shanghai.

In fact you’d be hard pressed to find a nicer city in all of China. Hangzhou gets rave reviews from near all who are lucky enough to visit the wonderful city.

As it is only an hour on the fast train (高铁 gāotiě) and only costs around 80 CNY it is is definitely worth a visit.

Need some essential vocab for travelling before you go?

Home to West Lake (西湖 Xīhú), a World UNESCO heritage site, Hangzhou is one of China’s top tourist cities. 

In addition it is the capital of Zhejiang(浙江 Zhèjiāng)province and one of China’s 7 ancient capitals.

Have a look at Hangzhou’s best tourist and food spots so that you can see why Hangzhou is one of the best places to visit outside Shanghai.

Places to Visit Outside Shanghai: Hangzhou Tourist Spots

West Lake

Leifeng Pagoda

City God Pavilion

Lingyin Temple


West Lake

This is definitely the number one must see attraction in Hangzhou. Spanning an area of 6.5 squared kilometres and surrounded by mountains on three sides the scenery of West Lake is truly breath-taking.

West Lake

Situated all around the lake are charming gardens, parks and bridges.

The wonderful scenery make Hangzhou one of the great places to visit outside of Shanghai.

You can really escape Shanghai city living and get back to nature.

There are many areas of the West Lake worth visiting, but you must make sure to see ‘The Three Pools Mirroring the Moon’ (三潭印月 Sāntányìnyuè).

Lotus Flowers at West Lake

You’ll need to head over to Xiaoying Island (小瀛洲 xiǎoyíng zhōu) to view the three towers rising out of the water.

This view is so beautiful it is even on the 1 yuan note!

First explore the outside of West Lake by foot or by bike. After that rent a boat or buy a ticket for one of the tour boats to go out on the lake.

The tour boats even have a short guided tour in Chinese, the perfect way to practice your listening skills!

Places to Visit Outside Shanghai: Leifeng Pagoda

View to Leifeng Pagoda

Positioned on the south side of West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda (雷峰塔 Léi fēng tǎ) offers amazing views of the lake, mountains and Hangzhou city itself. Go to the top of the pagoda to take in the breathtaking scenery and see why Hangzhou is one of the top places to visit outside Shanghai.

The Pagoda was rebuilt in 2002 after years of disrepair had led it to collapse in 1924. Because of this the rebuilt pagoda now sits on the original underground palace which has been excavated. 

If you’re feeling worn out from exploring the lake, don’t worry there is even an escalator up to the pagoda!

Tale of Leifeng Pagoda
There is a famous love story attached to the Leifeng Pagoda which gives it much of its fame. The story goes that in ancient times a white snake had transformed herself into a beautiful woman called Bai Suzhen (白素贞 Báisùzhēn).

Leifeng Pagoda

When Bai Suzhen was visiting the West Lake she got caught in a rainstorm but luckily a young scholar named Xu Xian (许仙 Xǔxiān) lent her his umbrella.

The two fell in love at first sight and soon got married and had a son.

But, a monk called Fa Hai (法海 Fǎ hǎi) who had a grudge against Bai Suzhen separated the couple, imprisoning Bai Suzhen in the Leifeng Pagoda.

Twenty years later Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian’s son prayed for his mother’s release and a god took pity on him and set her free so that the family were finally reunited.

Places to Visit Outside Shanghai: City God Pavilion

City God Pavilion

Another great place for you to enjoy spectacular views of West Lake and Hangzhou is at the top of Wu Hill (吴山 wúshān). Situated on top of this hill is City of God Pavillion (城隍阁 chénghuáng gé).

The Pavillion was rebuilt in the 1990s and is comprised of 6 floors.

Enjoy a nice cup of Hangzhou’s famous Longjing tea (龙井茶 lóngjǐng chá) tea at the coffee shop on the 5th floor whilst taking in the beautiful scenery.

Places to Visit Outside Shanghai: Lingyin Temple

Buddha carving near Lingyin Temple

Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺Líng yǐn sì) is not only the largest Buddhist temple in Hangzhou but actually is one of the largest and most visited Buddhist temples in China! Visit the temple and experience some Buddhist culture.

Along with the many carved wooden Buddha statues in the temple, you can also go and explore the “Peak Flown From Afar” that is right by the temple.

Here you can find may Buddhist grottos with buddhas carved into the stone cliff face.

Places to Visit Outside Shanghai: Qinghefang

Ancient Hangzhou

Experience traditional Hangzhou culture whilst on your weekend trip from Shanghai with a stroll down Qinghefang. This street is home to some of Hangzhou’s oldest buildings so it really is unmissable.

Some buildings even date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties!

Qinghefang has always been one of the most prosperous streets in Hangzhou and there are many businesses there that have been established for centuries.

Experience a variety of shops, along with a lot of street food including of course stinky tofu, will you be brave enough to try it?

Want to know more about tofu, check out our blog here

Learn about Tofu.

Places to Visit Outside Shanghai: Hangzhou Food Spots

Hangzhou cuisine is another thing that makes Hangzhou one of our favourite places to visit outside Shanghai. Check out our three favourite places to eat below along with the must try dishes!

Grandma’s Home (外婆家 Wàipó jiā)

Zhongshan Road

Lou Wai Lou

Grandma’s Home (外婆家 Wàipó jiā)

Fried Shrimp with Longjing Tea

This food chain is dotted all over Hangzhou and there is no better place to go and enjoy some local Hang cuisine dishes.

These restaurants are very popular so be prepared to grab a number and wait!

West Lake Fish in Sweet and Sour Source (西湖醋鱼 xīhú cùyú) is the number one dish to try. Grandma’s Red Cooked Pork (外婆红烧肉 wàipó hóngshāo ròu) and Fried Shrimp with Longjing Tea(龙井虾仁 lóngjǐng xiārén) are two more traditional Hang dishes not to be missed.

Zhongshan Road

Zhongshan Food Street

Hangzhou has plenty of food streets, and Zhongshan  Road (中山路Zhōngshān lù) is definitely one you shouldn’t miss.

Local restaurants and stalls stand all along the street with plastic tables and chairs set up outside.

Use this opportunity to try a variety of food and perhaps also enjoy a casual beer or two.

Lou Wai Lou

Lou Wai Lou (楼外楼 Lóu wài lóu) is one of Hangzhou’s most famous restaurants, being around for over 150 years.

Dongpo Pork

Situated at the bottom of Gushan near the West Lake you can enjoy some delicious food and also take in the beautiful scenery.

Dishes you must try here are Beggar’s Chicken (叫化鸡 jiàohuājī) and Dongpo Pork (东坡肉 dōngpōròu).

It’s rumoured that on his visit to China in 1972 former US President Richard Nixon was a big fan of Beggar’s Chicken.

After your weekend trip from Shanghai make sure you try out some Shanghai local delicacies too like Shanghai hairy crabs or Shanghai dumplings.

Things To Do In Nanjing // Weekend Away From Shanghai Thumbnail

Things To Do In Nanjing // Weekend Away From Shanghai

We reveal eight, great things to do in Nanjing! With plenty of beautiful scenery and lots of greenery it’s an ideal location to escape the city.

Hangzhou – FAQ’s

How far is Hangzhou from Shanghai?

Not that far (in China terms at least) – 180km (112miles) away.

What is Hangzhou in Chinese characters?


What is Hangzhou most famous for?

Hangzhou boasts a wealth of amazing sights and cuisine but without any doubt, it’s most famed for West Lake (西湖 Xīhú).

What is the capital city of Zhejiang province?

The capital of 浙江 is actually Hangzhou.

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  1. Evelyn

    Appreciate the info, Hangzhou is a great place.

    1. Max Hobbs

      We love it Evelyn, glad you enjoyed it.


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  4. This place is #1 in China bar none and no one tells me otherwise

    1. LTL Team HQ

      It’d be very hard to argue Raj. Beautiful city.