Luxury travel in one of China's most renowned city
West Lake, Hangzhou's most famous tourist attraction, looks best within the haze. The best time to visit would be in Spring or Autumn.
Although often left in Shanghai's shadow (the cities are only a short train ride away from each other), Hangzhou has much to recommend it in its own right: from lakes to tea fields and historic attractions.
Even though most of the touristy masses will be heading towards West Lake (the city's main attraction), opt out of the chaos and head down a more exclusive path to take advantage of the city on your own terms, from a private rowboat ride to local delicacies and soothing massages.
Where to stay
Banyan Tree Resort Hangzhou is built with traditional Chinese architecture, with bridges and canals scattered around the premises.
Banyan Tree Hangzhou is isolated from the traffic of nearby West Lake, making it the perfect for a quiet getaway. People go to Banyan Trees worldwide for their spas, and this one lives up to the brand reputation, so be sure to book one of their traditional Chinese massages while you're there.
Be prepared to be left speechless (in a good way of course) by the resort's spacious Siheyuan rooms, modelled after traditional Hangzhou homes, but with the added benefit of a coming equipped with huge tub, quaint patio, Chinese chess sets, relaxing incense and mouth-watering traditional snacks.
Although the resort has golf carts to take you around the site, opt to walk so you can take in the area's traditional Chinese architecture, including the bridges and canals scattered throughout the premises. The area is especially romantic in the evenings, when the lights are lit and reflecting off the canal.
Where to visit
Xixi Wetland is the only wetland park situated in a city centre in China.
If you stay at or around the Banyan Tree Hangzhou, take advantage of your location and visit the scenic Xixi National Wetland Park, the only wetland park in China. The 10-square-kilometre park is densely crisscrossed with six main waterways, and is home to various ponds and lakes.
Take advantage of all the water around you and hop in a private rowboat, which offer traditional teas during your ride. While you're there, also make sure to stop in the model fishing village and local heritage sites, including Autumn Snow Temple and Hezhu Street.
Although Xixi is a full-day's excursion on its own, it would be a shame to go to Hangzhou and not visit West Lake, the city's most famous attraction. Plan an evening stroll to hopefully avoid the tourist groups, and be thankful you already got your row boating in at Xixi, so you won't feel the need to wait online here.
Where to eat
A great place to sample their renowned Dragonwell Tea and healthy farmhouse dishes would be on the Lion Peak.
Su Dongpo, a revered poet of Song Dynasty, once wrote that there are no better banquets in the world than those comprising Hangbang cai -- or Hangzhou food. Hangzhou cuisine is more subdued compared to the strong sweet and salty flavours of the nearby Shanghai cuisine.
A great place to sample Hangzhou's renowned Dragonwell tea and Hangbang cai is on Lion Peak Mountain.
You can find all the classic dishes here including Dongpo pork, beggar's chicken, long jing fried shrimp and West Lake vinegar fish, as well as Dragonwell Tea, one of the best quality Chinese green teas.
You can easily spend a day there, munching away, sipping tea and immersing yourself in the relaxed atmosphere.
If you're looking for a place that's a bit more upscale for dinner, try Shan Wai Shan. The restaurant is known for its wide selection of traditional Hangzhou dishes and seafood sourced from the lakes in and around the city. Bonus feature: it's located in Hangzhou's Botanic Garden.
Where to shop
You might have visited JNBY's flagship store in New York Soho, but have you paid tribute to their original store in Hangzhou yet?
If you're from United States or Japan, you may be familiar with JNBY shops, but you probably didn't know that JNBY has its humble beginnings in Hangzhou. From here it has firmly established its palce in the international fashion world.
The brand is known for using neutral, muted colours as well as natural materials such as cotton, linen, and silk. Their specialty, as New York Times calls it, is "making ‘shape shifters', where one piece of garment can be worn in many different ways."
Head over to Lifestyleasia.com for full details on things to do in Hangzhou.