Zhejiang China – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Zhejiang is one of the richest and most developed provinces in China. It’s endowed with stunning natural landscapes as well as deep cultural roots.
Where to go in Zhejiang
There are a number of top-tier cities to visit in the province. These are usually foreigner-friendly, and there’s lots to do. As a general rule the standards of English decrease with the city’s size. Here are some of the cities that we recommend you visit:
The capital of the province, Hangzhou is also a tourist hot-spot. Conveniently located (45 minutes from Shanghai), all tourist attractions are very well developed.
It offers both natural and cultural attractions quite often in the same place. The famous West Lake is its biggest attraction, and there are a host of cultural attractions to visit around the lake, like Lingyin Temple (in China’s top ten temples).
For something a little further from the city, there are beautiful green tea fields producing arguably China’s best leaves- Longjing Tea Village is a must!
Ningbo is one of China’s oldest cities, dating all the way back to 4800 BC. Owing to it’s long history, it’s cultural roots are deep. It’s a big port city on China’s East coast rivalling Shanghai-expect lots of fresh tasty seafood!
Be sure to visit some of the city’s cultural sights-Tiantong Temple is just beneath Taibai Mountain and we highly recommend a visit.
Hangzhou Bay is a great place to pick up some seafood, and while you’re there you should definitely climb Mount Putuo for an enriching cultural experience.
For natural landscapes, take a day trip to see Dongqian Lake.
Wenzhou is definitely less popular as a tourist destination but it makes up for it by being host to stunning natural landscapes.
Not only is it nestled between serene, rolling green hills but you can also come here for a seaside holiday! It’s one of the few places in China where you can see blue water and white sand beaches.
Go to the peaceful Nanji Islands for swimming and beautiful green hills. The Wenzhou Amusement Park is a great place to take the kids.
When to Go to Zhejiang
With hot summers and cold winters, the best time to go is either in Spring (March-April) and Autumn (September-October) with Spring being the rainy season. Rain can be heavy, so pack appropriately. Be aware that areas of the province may be affected by typhoons especially in August.
Where to stay in Zhejiang
Zhejiang offers competitive rates with regards to accommodation, although slightly higher than the rest of the country depending on which city you choose to stay in. In Hangzhou, the trendy West Lake area has loads of places to stay, but usually at a price. That being said, backpacker accommodations are widely available so it’s also possible to stay on a budget (around 50 RMB).
Great hotel deals are there for the taking, so be patient and look around.
Over Chinese holidays like Chinese New Year (February) most of the country will travel to be with their families. Hotels get incredibly busy over these times, so it’s best to avoid visiting over these periods.
Where and what to Eat in Zhejiang
Zhejiang cuisine is unique to the rest of the country. Think seafood and mellow flavours. Their focus is on freshly prepared ingredients, and some of the best places to eat are right on the street.
There are 3 distinct styles: Hangzhou style is the most elegant and is often stir fried. Shaoxing is where they eat a lot of freshwater fish. Ningbo is the seafood hub. You can choose between affordable corner restaurants (noodles for 10 RMB) or high-end Chinese cuisine (200 RMB per person).
In the likely event the staff at the restaurant don’t speak English, look out for restaurants with picture menus!
Bigger cities will have western style eateries to satisfy their foreign guests.
How to get around Zhejiang?
There’s no doubt that the most convenient way to travel is by high-speed train. China’s train network is extensive, and there are trains to even the smallest most remote towns. Not only is it affordable, it’s lightning fast! Use it to avoid the hassle of going through an airport. A train from Hangzhou to Beijing will be around 500 RMB and last less than 6 hours
Like the train network, aeroplanes take off and land from medium and large sized cities. They’re affordable, but unlike trains they are prone to delays.
Buses will travel to and from tiny villages to massive first-tier cities. In the event there’s no airport or train station, use China’s cheap, safe (albeit slow) coaches. Pay around 30 RMB for a two-hour trip.
How to get to and from Zhejiang
If you’re travelling less than 4 hours, trains are the most convenient. China’s rail network connects all provinces seamlessly. Hangzhou East Station is one of the biggest in the province- from Shanghai to Hangzhou is only 45 minutes and costs 74 RMB. Although it is possible, with longer trips it’s better to take a plane. Beijing to Wenzhou by train costs over 600 RMB, and takes over 8 hours long.
Trains run regularly starting from around 6am until 10 pm. For any province surrounding adjacent to Zhejiang, we highly recommend hopping on a bullet train. They’re fast, comfortable and super convenient because taxis line up outside train stations at any time of day.
Planes are the best option if you’re travelling far. Many international flights to Zhejiang connect via Hong Kong. From Hong Kong to Hangzhou takes just over two hours from around 600 RMB. Another connection hub is through Beijing airport- to get to Hangzhou Xiaoshan is just over 2 hours. Please note that planes in China are regularly delayed so make sure you have enough time in between your connections.
Different areas in China have different local airlines: China southern Airlines, East China Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Shanghai Air etc. For the best prices, pick a local air line but don’t expect Western food and English-speaking staff.
By bus or taxi
China has an extensive road network that links all cities and towns together with world-class highways. Not as fast as train or plane, but more comfortable, buses travel all around the country. Remember – the roads can be very busy (especially near big cities). If you’re travelling more than 200 km, don’t take a taxi because they’re expensive and their driving may terrify you!
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself on a cruise ship, there are a number of ports on Zhejiang’s East coast. It’s possible to take a cruise leaving from Shanghai to port cities like Ningbo and the beautiful Zhoushan coastal area.
Is Zhejiang a safe place to visit?
Zhejiang is incredibly safe and there are no issues with crime. Marked taxi drivers do drive recklessly, so we suggest downloading the DiDi app- it’s basically China’s Uber and the drivers are more reliable. AVOID unmarked taxis and three-wheeled motorcycles. There are occasional typhoons in August, but they’re rarely life-threatening.