Everyone has heard of Shanghai, China’s most populous city and important financial, business and tourist destination. Fewer people have heard of Hangzhou, despite the fact that its beautiful pagodas, historic temples and lush gardens have been around for centuries, providing inspiration for many a Chinese poet and painter, reports the New York Times. It is one of the seven ancient capitals of China.
Recently, the growth boom that Shanghai has experienced has caused people to turn to Hangzhou as a peaceful retreat offering cultural contemplation. As the town appeared on the visitors’ destination list, so too did a number of new luxury hotels to accommodate them. Try the Shangri-la (www.shangri-la.com) overlooking West Lake, or the spectacular décor of Banyan Tree (banyantree.com) within China’s first wetland reserve.
The Aman, (www.amanresorts.com) is close to some of the area’s most spectacular ancient Buddhist temples up in the hills, and the most recent new hotel is the Four Seasons (www.fourseasons.com). Located along the lagoons, this five-star hotel has a destination spa and two swimming pools. The Banyan Tree’s design-chic sister hotel, the Angsana is set to open soon. Visit Lingyin Temple, one of the world’s most important Buddhist temples.
A new high-speed train links the city to Shanghai. Hangzhou is now less than a one-hour journey from the city centre.