Though it’s home to the $100 billion e-commerce phenomenon Alibaba, many of the activities in the culture-rich city of Hangzhou are free. The Chinese have a saying, “The best things in life are free,” and fervently believe it. If you’re there for pleasure or on business this summer, here’s how to make the most of Hangzhou’s abundant charms:
- Visit one of the world’s most romantic lakes – West Lake, setting of China’s Romeo and Juliet legend and inspiration to countless poets, artists and musicians. But, if you crave a cruise on this UNESCO World Heritage site, Uber will oblige.
- See the Grand Canal, the world’s longest man-made canal – free for the viewing. Or course its waters via hydro-autobus.
- Slip into China National Silk Museum, the largest silk museum in the world. The free-admittance gem showcases Chinese silk history and culture and is appropriately set in Hangzhou, the world’s top silk producer.
- Get exercised: Learn from a Martial Arts Master the basics of Taichi, the ancient martial art known for its health benefits. Or learn by watching – for free – locals performing Taichi in the morning at public parks.
- Take a hike – on one of the historic hills surrounding West Lake. Baoshi Shan’s trail takes about 50 minutes but can stretch to a couple of hours if you’re clicking away with your iPhone or stopping to read over a cool drink purchased from the trail’s little book bar.
- Look sharp, old blade: the free China Knife, Scissors and Sword Museum, situated on a stretch of the Grand Canal, exhibits Chinese weapons and life tools from the Stone Age to modern times.
- Drink in China’s age-old tea culture. Picturesque Meijiawu Tea Plantation is one of Four Famous Habitats for Longjing Tea. The 600-year-old tea farm features 160 tea houses where visitors are privy to the intricate etiquette of the Chinese Tea Ceremony.
- Put the pedal to the metal – for the first hour public bikes are free.
- Go local: Hefang Historical Street is the place to buy souvenirs – silk, fans, chopsticks, tobacco, tea, umbrellas, scissors, or clothing; taste local delicacies like silkworm pupae on skewers, scorpions and chicken feet. Catch lively street theatre – Chinese yo-yo tricks, candy sculptors, antique puppet shows and more, all for free.
- Get connected: the entire city of Hangzhou has free WiFi – i-Hangzhou.
SOURCE Hangzhou Tourism Commission