Author: Dustin Van Sloten

Hangzhou is a city with glorious history and culture. Hangzhou goes by may names: the tea capital of China, the City of Water, City of Silk, and last but not least the City of Love. by many. On July 4, the Jinhua Homestay Program participants had the great opportunity to visit Hangzhou and were given a tour of many of the top attractions of the city.

The Former Residence of Hu Xueyan

This 10.8-acre residence of wealth buisness man Hu Xueyan (胡雪岩) was completed in 1875. This residence contains traditional Chinese architecture with a western architectural style. It is considered the most luxurious residence of the merchants in the end of the Chinese Qing Dynasty. Anyone who visits Hangzhou must make this a must-stop location.

West Lake

Pagoda as seen from West Lake. Source: Riccardo Giorgini

West Lake is a freshwater lake surrounded by mountains on three sides. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake. The views of this lake were breathtaking. You can see mountain views, views of the city, and views of many people in boats enjoying the day.

It was very relaxing to take our boat cruise on the lake and learn about the history of the lake from our very knowledgeable tour guide. While you are on the lake, make sure to sit back and take it all in, because there is so much beauty right in front of you.

Hefang Street

Hefang Street. Source: Dustin Van Sloten

Hefang Street is quite an experience. This street contains numerous retail vendors, local artists, and huge local cuisine scene. It is very charming and eclectic. It seemed like it went on forever. The energy in this place was simply amazing. From vendors wanting to sell their homemade products/souvenirs to the local eateries wanting you to enjoy their food, this place had a little bit of everything.

Hangzhou Light Show

Buildings in Hangzhou’s New Financial District. Source: Dustin Van Sloten

When the tour guides said we were going to a light show, what I had imagined was nothing compared to what actually took place. I have never seen anything like it. All the buildings lit up to form a synchronous digital light show. I was amazed by the digital effects and the sheer amount of lights.

It was July 4. In my country, the United States, we would have been celebrating with a fireworks display lighting up the sky.  I was pleasantly surprised and did not at all miss the fireworks back in my home country. China again impressed me with their technological savviness and forward thinking. They even paid tribute to the United States by displaying a brief fireworks light show on the buildings.

Buildings illuminated with different countrys’ flags.

With the comforts of modernity combined with a relaxed life, you’ll understand why it’s called The City of Love.


My origins are from Hong Kong, a city known for the densest population in the world. Visiting Hangzhou I was surprised to see shift in culture. Although it looked like a big city, people followed  a slower pace of life. Greenery was woven throughout glass buildings. I can definitely understand why the tour guide described Hangzhou to be the best place to live in China!
– Vicki Hung, Canada

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