Why Hangzhou China is truly for lovers (and Valentine’s Day)

When I was growing up, my parents took me to one of these tourism fairs in Cleveland, Ohio, which introduced me to a slogan I just couldn’t understand: Virginia is for lovers. I’d been to the state of Virginia. The Blue Ridge Mountains were pretty enough, and so were the beaches. But to say that this state was for lovers? It didn’t seem right to me.

In hindsight, my hesitation could have had another explanation. That I was destined to discover and eventually settle in a city that, in my mind, truly was for lovers (and truly deserved such a slogan). Hangzhou, China!

Yes, Hangzhou really is the ideal place for people in love. And if you’ve never visited before, here are four reasons why it could be the perfect place to spend your Valentine’s Day – or, for that matter, any romantic holiday or getaway:

1. It’s the setting of one of the greatest love stories in Chinese history (The White Snake or 白蛇传)

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For John and me, visiting Leifeng Pagoda was like paying homage to one of China’s greatest love stories.

The forbidden love story of the Madame White Snake – a magical snake who turns into a lovely young woman and captures the heart of Xu Xian – is considered one of China’s most beloved folktales. And it all happened right here in beautiful Hangzhou (supposedly, at least!).

You could bring your own sweetheart here to have your own personal re-enactment of Madame White Snake.

Why not flirt at the Broken Bridge (断桥) on Bai Causeway, where the white snake and Xu Xian first fell in love? You could also buy yourselves a little tangyuan there just as Xu Xian did, the sweet and tart candied fruits on a stick that first entwined Xu Xian’s fate together with the white snake in the story.

On the opposite side of the lake, climb to the top of the reconstructed Leifeng Pagoda, where the white snake was imprisoned for loving and marrying Xu Xian. As you and your lover admire the view from the top – the glistening surface of the lake fringed by the endless emerald gardens – you can feel grateful that you’re both free to love one another in that moment.

2. The West Lake is the perfect place for lovers to stroll and relax

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Trust me, come to the West Lake and even you won’t be able to resist kissing your loved one!

Hangzhou’s West Lake has been famous for thousands of years and inspired countless works of art, poems and even replicas of the lake itself (including Kunming Lake at Beijing’s Summer Palace). It’s a breathtaking destination – and, not surprisingly, one with many perfect places for lovers to stroll and relax.

One of the easiest – and low cost – ways for couples to bask in the beauty of the West Lake is through a stroll around one of the many gardens surrounding the West Lake. My favorite romantic spots include Orioles Singing in the Willows (柳浪聞鶯) and Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer (曲院風荷) during the daytime, as well as Su Causeway itself (either early in the morning or late at night).

You can also hire boats to glide across the lake and get away from the crowds; it’s most picturesque just a little before sunset.

In the Beishan area and Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer (曲院風荷), lighting makes the gardens bloom with stunning shades of salmon pink, cerulean blue and jade green – colors as brilliant as the love in your own heart.

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Even the city lights take on a romantic glow when viewed from Su Causeway.

And of course, if the moment is just right, you might find yourself settling into one of the many benches around the lake to share a kiss, just as John and I once did years ago.

3. There’s nothing sexier than a private tea for two in a Hangzhou teahouse

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A teahouse spread fit for a king…or even just a couple of people really crazy in love!

As much as I love my soy lattes from Starbucks, that coffeehouse – or really, any coffeehouse for that matter – has nothing on some of the best Hangzhou teahouses. Picture slipping behind a sliding tatami door into the private decadence of a tea for two, from the aromatic delights of Hangzhou’s famous Dragonwell tea to an exquisite spread of all-you-can-eat snacks, hot food and even dessert. Some private rooms even allow you to sit on the floor, making the whole atmosphere that much more romantic.

Best of all, the unhurried pace of a teahouse – where the servers are simply there to serve instead of herding you in and out – means you can linger over the meal, taking your time to savor the moment together…and perhaps steal a kiss or two behind closed doors.

While there are many teahouses in Hangzhou, I highly recommend Qingteng Teahouse (青藤茶楼), especially the branch in the Wyndham Hotel which offers private rooms and unforgettably delectable set meals – the perfect combination for any pair of lovers.

4. You can enjoy flowers every season of the year

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From red roses on Valentine’s Day to bridal bouquets, flowers have long been synonymous with love and romance. But flowers are best enjoyed in the outdoors – and what better place to appreciate them than Hangzhou, where the flowers enchant us every season of the year.

In wintertime, you’ll find plum blossoms beside the West Lake, reminding us all that even in harsh conditions, the most delicate beauty can flourish and prevail.

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It’s pretty amazing that the plum blossoms come out even in the cold of winter!

You know it’s spring when sweet white peach blossoms surround the West Lake like a dusting of late-season snow in the treetops.

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Peach blossoms by the West Lake (Photo via hzxcnews.com)

Summertime welcomes the lotus blossoms in the West Lake, each as pink as a blushing bride, a jewel to behold.

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Even though the summers can be unbearably hot, knowing that the lotus blossoms will come out gives me something to look forward to.

But best of all is the osmanthus bloom, the smallest and most intoxicating of all with an aroma that might just be the closest thing to passionate young love in a fragrance.

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These flowers are tiny, but their fragrance packs quite the punch. Seriously!

Do you think Hangzhou is a romantic destination? Why or why not?

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14 thoughts on “Why Hangzhou China is truly for lovers (and Valentine’s Day)

  • February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am
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    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    When I went to China in 2005 to meet my girlfriend (now wife), we hightailed it to Hangzhou from Guangzhou, and it was awesome! We stayed around the fold in the mountainside from Xihu, and we strolled there, ate there, shopped there… And we added trips to Liying Temple and Longjing for another awesome day. Nothing like buying 龙井茶 from a tea picker in their house. The city was pretty decent, too.

    Too bad our paths didn’t cross then!

    Reply
  • February 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm
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    I have never been to Hangzhou but by the looks of it, it is a perfect destination for love and romance. The private tea setting is both cultural and romantic. And I love the fact that you included things that you enjoy for free – a walk in the park, the flowers in bloom. Sometimes being romantic and enjoying each other’s company doesn’t have to cost a thing.

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  • February 9, 2015 at 12:16 pm
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    It’s a nice location to visit over a weekend if you haven’t been there before – especially from Shanghai it’s very convenient to get there (not sure if visiting on an official holiday is a good idea though). I especially enjoyed the Liying temple and the walk to it with the small caves and Buddhas. The West Lake was nice too, probably because we went in late autumn and not too many people were around.

    However if the weather doesn’t get any better soon, it’s probably more romantic to stay home and cuddle in the warm 😉 … or maybe just head over to the top of the Jin Mao and watch the sunset while having a cocktail…

    Reply
  • February 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm
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    Dawen and I like to visit Hangzhou and since we live in Shanghai right now, we can go there more often. We’ve been there three times so far. 🙂

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  • February 9, 2015 at 12:36 pm
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    I’ll go for the 龙井茶! Just kidding! 😛 I really am now intrigued on the city now and 龙井茶 is my favorite type of tea anyway. 🙂

    When I go to China I’ll have to definitely try to go :3

    Reply
  • February 9, 2015 at 1:03 pm
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    I loved West Lake when we visited in 1986. What I particularly remember is exploring the lake in a small boat.

    I love the romantic names (like Orioles Singing in the Willows) of your favorite romantic spots. The peach blossoms are gorgeous, but the lotus blossoms are my favorites. I think it’s because I like the way they’re painted in both Chinese and Western paintings.

    Reply
  • February 11, 2015 at 6:52 am
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    Have to admit that the place looks pretty awesome. Love the scenes. Hope that someday I might be able to visit it. If not the not.

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  • February 12, 2015 at 4:15 am
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    Oh my goodness!! I love Hangzhou, and I love how you introduced just how romantic the city is! Hangzhou is one of my favorite cities, I just wish the traffic was a little better (is the new subway helping out the congestion?).

    I would love to have Valentine’s Day in a teahouse! And with a stroll around West Lake! I’m very jealous.

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  • February 13, 2015 at 1:28 am
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    Hi there. I am Frank and I am a Chinese who is living in Hong Kong. First of all, I want to say “thank you”. Thank you for your sharing and writing. To speck frankly, this blog widens my horizon with how foreign people see China also the experiences in China you had. I like your photos, they are really beautiful especially the view of the night garden. I believe that nothing is better than standing there with the person who you love. I have no idea China has such an amazing place like there. I would like to spend my time to surf your posts here. It is an interesting blog. Thank. You and Good night. 🙂

    Reply
  • December 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm
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    Beautiful place. We sadly missed the osmanthus season just by a week! But even then, the place is magical esp. when it gets all misty.

    Reply
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