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Hangzhou

The city of Hangzhou was described by Marco Polo as “the most magnificent in all the world.” It has always been prosperous, thanks to the silk trade and its proximity to the Grand Canal. These days, though, the city enjoys a reputation as the most ...

The city of Hangzhou was described by Marco Polo as “the most magnificent in all the world.” It has always been prosperous, thanks to the silk trade and its proximity to the Grand Canal. These days, though, the city enjoys a reputation as the most affluent in China, where the newly wealthy of Shanghai buy hillside properties overlooking West Lake. Hangzhou now has a population approaching 7 million (21 million in the metro area including and surrounding the city), but despite its growing size, districts bordering the lake remain pretty, tranquil and clean. It is possible to walk, jog or cycle around much of the shoreline, pausing on the willow-shaded paths to gaze out across the expanse of glassy water. Hangzhou offers a number of fascinating monuments, such as the enormous Lingyin Si Buddhist temple, founded in the fourth century, and the magnificent 12th-century Six Harmonies Pagoda. 

The best way to reach this lovely city is by bullet train, which takes approximately 45 minutes to cover the 110 miles from Shanghai. The main highway, on the other hand, is often choked with traffic, and the journey can last up to three hours. In addition, the standard of driving is abysmal. 

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