“Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as travelling ten thousand miles.”
That’s a Chinese proverb.
I don’t know much about Chinese proverbs but they somehow always seem to make sense. It’s like when the eyes of a portrait always seem to follow you around the room – you apply the proverb to fix itself on you, and your individual situation.
You probably notice it when listening to the lyrics of a love song too.
That proverb is particularly relevant here for three reasons:
- We’re focusing on Hangzhou, a city on the east coast of mainland China
- We’re passionate about travelling to broaden the mind
- If you traveled from London to Hangzhou and back – you’d have traveled 10,000 miles (that’s true – you can look it up J)
For those who have never been to Hangzhou, you must know that it can be a tad rainy throughout the year.
But for those who tread into ugly lands, there is great beauty to be found (that’s not another proverb … I just got carried away).
The truth is, Hangzhou is a wondrous holiday destination and one that — if you know you’re way around — can bring you a whole chest of lifelong memories to treasure.
Let’s get into the list …
Deep-dive into a forgotten underwater city
At the base of Five Lion Mountain, an entire city is submerged in the waters of Qiandao Lake.
The architecture of the buildings and the inscriptions on their walls would take your breath away … if you weren’t concentrating so hard on breathing through your scuba gear.
As your head torch illuminates a pocket of the Lake’s hazy water, you will uncover the lost city of Schicheng and you’ll never forget what you see. You’ll never forget that first gasp of fresh air on the surface – when it finally sinks in what you just saw with your own eyes.
Big Blue SCUBA Diving International runs regular weekend dives and the site is reachable in about two hours from the centre of Hangzhou.
Give your soul a holiday, too
Lingyin Temple is otherwise known as “Temple of the Soul’s Retreat” … and for good reason.
This is one of those places you have on your itinerary of things to do on holiday, only to not actually look forward to it all that much. Then you get there and EVERYTHING changes.
It’s an active Buddhist temple, which means you will see monks praying here as you walk the path to the top. As you climb the steps, you’ll see carvings of Buddha in the rock and these are not just mere etchings for you to glance at as you walk – these are large, detailed and worshiped carvings that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Still, the real memory to take away from Lingyin Temple is the true feeling of sanctuary you get from just giving yourself 30 minutes to focus on absolutely nothing but the peacefulness of your environment.
It’s like a balm for the stressed mind.
Sip a Dragon Well tea and sail West Lake
Order a Dragon Well (Longjing) tea from one of the tearooms neighboring West Lake – Hangzhou’s main tourist attraction.
As the warmth from the clay pot travels through your palms and you take the first sip of your green tea, you’ll feel more at one with the surrounding area than at any other moment during your holiday.
See, Longjing tea is grown right on the banks of West Lake – so it’s almost as if you’re tasting the same beauty as your environment (again, that’s not another proverb).
The tea may seem like a small thing to get excited about but it is important.
Here’s why …
The next time you sip a green tea back home that even remotely smells of Dragon Well (you can actually order it from some UK providers) you will remember the day you cruised along the surface of Hangzhou’s West Lake.
West Lake is made up of five smaller lakes, all interconnected by calm waterways and dotted by three small manmade islands. Everywhere you look, it’s like a real-life postcard.
— Tip: If you can, travel during the colder seasons to avoid the tourism overload. The Dragon Well tea will keep you warm enough. —
What do you think?
Hopefully, this post has given you something to think about when you’re next looking at travelling to the Far East.
There are lots of unsung holidaying gems in China to uncover and Hangzhou is definitely one of them. Since December 2013, Qatar Airways has started flying people out there daily, and so it’s not just me saying it ought to be on more bucket lists.
Let me know in the comments if you have any more great locations to visit on that side of the world, I’d love to hear your stories. And if you’re thinking of flying out there, make sure you check our Qatar Airways promotional codes while you’re here.