A Weekend In Hangzhou

Big decisions about international sporting events tend to stay in the headlines for months at a time. For instance, late this summer we learned that dual Olympic bids were approved for Paris and Los Angeles, with the two cities set to host in 2024 and 2028, respectively. There is still public debate about the appropriateness of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, and certainly many will remember how often we saw articles about Rio’s preparation for the 2016 Olympics. 

What hasn’t gotten as much attention is that the wonderful city of Hangzhou, China has been awarded the honor of hosting the 2022 Asian Games. The bigger news than the location has seemingly been the decision to approve video games as events, which is certainly a break from tradition. The Olympic Council of Asia announced earlier this year that eSports will be included as an official competition for the 2022 games, and this has been the bit of news generating headlines. But while this is certainly interested for those focused on the Games, the idea of Hangzhou hosting those Games is more intriguing to travelers!

Hangzhou will be only the third city to host the Asian Games, with Beijing and Guangzhou having done so previously. And naturally, this means it will be looking to show itself off for the occasion. Preparations are already underway for the major international event that will be here before we know it, which should make now an interesting time to visit. Even if some of the changes – new public transportation, stadiums, etc. – won’t be anywhere near complete yet, it’s always fun to be in a city that’s growing at a determined and exciting pace. 

Here’s a little bit of what you can already enjoy on a weekend in Guangzhou. 

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West Lake

It’s hard to do West Lake justice via description. Basically it’s a big, beautiful lake in town, known for a garden-like atmosphere around its perimeter, as well as pleasant walking paths and bridges. Again, it may not sound like much, but West Lake is often considered to be the best attraction in Hangzhou. 

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Fei Lai Feng

This is an almost mystical mountain in Hangzhou, nearly 170 meters tall and marked by its seemingly endless array of Buddha statues and carvings. It’s located near a Buddhist temple, actually, but sort of steals the show thanks to its ancient, natural appeal. 

Midtown Brewery 

There’s plenty of natural beauty to go around in Hangzhou, but some more traditional attractions are worth mentioning also. Midtown Brewery (sure to be a popular stop during the 2022 Games) is thought by many to be the best pub in the city. It’s actually inside the Shangri-La hotel, but is not a touristy option. Local beers brewed on site are the main draw. 

Qinghefang Ancient Street

Hangzhou is a legitimately ancient city, with old settlements believed to have been established as long as 5,000 years ago or more. The Qinghefang Ancient Street is effectively the “old town” district in town, not so old as the ancient settlements, but dating back at least to the 13th century. Its age is apparent simply looking around, but it’s also a vibrant place for shopping, eating, and simply exploring the town. 

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Water Towns

China’s “water towns” are believed by some to be among the most authentic places you can visit, often preserving an older world atmosphere, and great beauty along with it. Several happen to be in close proximity to Hangzhou, which makes them favorite stops for a lot of travelers to the area. 

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