World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > China > Hangzhou

Local time Hangzhou



Hangzhou History

As the most southerly point of the Grand Canal, the home of poetic West Lake and the recipient of the world's largest tidal bore, water runs through Hangzhou’s history.

The Grand Canal, which ran from Hangzhou to Beijing, was completed in 609 and put the city on the map.

The poet Bai Juyi (772-846 CE) was one of the first artists to mention West Lake when it was still part of the Qiantang River. As a governor of Hangzhou, he also built a dam for irrigating nearby farmland.

It wasn’t until sediment from the Wu and Baoshi Mountains cut the Qintang River off that it became a lake. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), West Lake would dry up during droughts, so the city’s governor built an underwater system to divert water into the lake.

Hangzhou became the Wuyue state capital during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era (907-960) and by the time Marco Polo arrived in the city in the late 13th century, he believed that it was “without a doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world”.

Money came in as rice and silk went out of the port in Hangzhou Bay until the inlet built up with sediment and the harbour became unusable.

In 1860, the Taiping Rebellion ravaged the city. Hangzhou was a mere blot on the 17 provinces the revolt ended up controlling, killing some 20 million people in the process.

Today, cotton, tea and silk are the main industries, while boat trips on West Lake or the Qiantang River tidal bore bring the tourists.

Did you know?
• When Polo passed through in the 13th century, the city had an estimated population of nearly 1.5 million people.
• President Nixon visited West Lake during his 1972 China trip, thawing the icy relations between the USA and China.
• West Lake was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2011.

A digital image at

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels


Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake

Pricey but amazingly beautiful, the Four Seasons Hotel features a spectacularly pleasant staff. The exclusive arrival via boat combined with the spectacular restaurant and spa offer a truly tranquil experience. The perfect place for any occasion from business to pleasure.


Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale Hangzhou

One of the best value hotels in the heart of Hangzhou city, The Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale isn’t far from the beautiful West Lake. Onsite parking, WiFi, a business centre, bar and swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor) are available.


Hangzhou International Youth Hostel

Hangzhou's best youth hostel is on the eastern lakeshore in an area dotted with bars, cafes and clubs. There's a variety of basic but well-kept rooms including singles, doubles and dorms. Staff members speak good English and there are all the usual hostel facilities such as laundry room, self-service kitchen and Wi-Fi.

Hangzhou Xihu State Guesthouse

This large resort, set in stunning gardens on the quieter west side of the lake, has historically been the lakeside retreat of China's Communist Party elite. Spread across eight buildings, there are 178 rooms, a golf course, meeting facilities, tennis courts and an indoor pool.

Crystal Orange Hotel

Trendy Hangzhou hotel housed in a cool colonial-style building with cute balconies and set back across the road from the eastern lakeshore. Very popular so book ahead.

The New Hotel (Xinxin)

Don't be fooled by the name, this place goes back almost 100 years and is housed in three attractive European-style buildings on the northern lakeshore. Standard rooms are ordinary, but there are some nice lake-view options if you pay more.