Peak season in Hangzhou runs from March to May and September to November. Weather is optimal (not too hot, not too cold), but crowds are dense and flights and accommodation will be more expensive. Hangzhou’s two rainy seasons are from late June to early July, and in August and September. Visiting during this time is still an option, but be prepared with umbrella and ponchos. The best time to visit Hangzhou if you want to save on flights, train tickets and accommodation is in December and January, where there are fewer crowds and the temperature drops.
Hangzhou has the reputation for being one of the most beautiful cities in China, and rightly so. The biggest draw card for the area is West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Hangzhou’s most popular attraction. A visit to the city wouldn’t be complete without getting out onto the lake, which can be done in a variety of ways. Cruise boats go out regularly and visit the islands in the lake with night tours and private tours available, and paddle boats are also an option. There are also many paths around the lake for walking or biking. The best time to visit is on weekdays however, as weekends can get very busy.
In addition to West Lake there are several other things to see and do in Hangzhou. Three interesting museums worth a visit include the Hangzhou Cuisine Museum where visitors can get a look at hundreds of lifelike replicas of local dishes, the National Silk Museum where you can see how silk is produced, and the National Tea Museum which offers a detailed look at how tea gets from the field into the cup. Visitors who are particularly interested in tea can go to Meijiawu Tea Plantation, about 20 minutes outside of Hangzhou. Here you can see how tea is cultivated, roasted and packaged, and of course try some tea during the visit.
Other noteworthy attractions to consider include Qinghefang Ancient Street, a pedestrian street filled with shops, teahouses, and food stalls; Linyin Temple, one of the oldest temples in Hangzhou; and Prince Bay Park. Hangzhou is also a good destination for shopping, in particular it’s a great place to pick up silks and teas, two items the city is well known for.
Hangzhou is well serviced by public transportation and getting around by bus is the easiest option. There are also convenient tourist buses that make it easy to get around the lake and to various sites and museums in and around the lake. Tourist bus circles the lake.
The best way to get into the city from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH) is via shuttle bus. Busses operate to and from the airport from a variety of stops around the city. The journey takes around an hour. Taxis are also an option but generally cost more than the bus.