Hangzhou, a source of inspiration for numerous poets, writers, and artists over the centuries, is considered by many to be China’s most beautiful city. It’s also an ideal base for day trips into the surrounding region beyond West Lake. Here are some of the best day tours from Hangzhou.
Xixi National Wetland Park — 6 miles (10 km) west
Just outside Hangzhou sits Xixi National Wetland Park, an urban wetland known for its tranquility and pristine natural landscapes. A short boat shuttle takes you to the park, with the opportunity to spot birds swimming in the lake along the way. Within the park, a small museum recounts the history and culture of fishermen and farmers who once lived in the scenic area, and there are several restaurants that deliver their seafood-centric meals right to the boat docks.
Shaoxing Water Town — 40 miles (65 km) southeast
A day tour from Hangzhou to Shaoxing, one of China’s ancient water villages, starts with an exploration of the town on a traditional Chinese gondola, called a wupeng. Next up is a visit to the serene Shen Garden and the meticulously landscaped Orchid Pavilion.
Wuzhen Water Town — 50 miles (80 km) northeast
Wuzhen, one of several must-see ancient water towns found south of the Yangtze River, dates back more than 2,000 years. Pedestrian pathways line meandering canals crossed by old stone bridges, earning the town the nickname “Venice of China.” On a full-day tour, visit a local rice wine workshop from the Song Dynasty, learn how indigo is produced in a dye shop, tour the Hundred-Bed Museum, watch a shadow puppet show, and cruise along the atmospheric canals.