5 best biking routes in Hangzhou
Bicycle culture may be slowly disappearing from larger Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, but travelers in scenic Hangzhou can easily avoid the hellishness of increasing car traffic and get a taste of traditional Chinese cycling culture.
Here are five scenic, peaceful routes to get started on.
1. Broken Bridge and Su Di Causeway 断桥与苏堤
Start: Sha Nian Gong bike station, at Huancheng Xi Lu and Beishan Lu 少年宫公共自行车租赁服务点, 环城西路和北山路路口
End: Su Di Nan Kou bike station on Nanshan Lu, south end of Su Causeway 苏堤南口公共自行车 租赁服务点, 苏堤南边
Distance: 5.4 kilometers
Starting with Hangzhou's iconic, lake-traversing causeway, this route travels across the famed Broken Bridge, onto Gushan Island, where you can visit numerous museums, nature trails and the renowned Louwailou restaurant, which specializes in Hangzhou cuisine.
Next, ride toward the much longer and more serene Su Di Causeway, whose entire tree-lined length runs across West Lake.
This area offers a multitude of rewarding photo ops while traversing stone arch bridges.
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2. Hidden West Lake 神秘西湖
Start: Huagang Xi Men bike station, across from Huagang Restaurant 花港西门公共自行车租赁服务点, 花港饭店对面
End: Huanglong Lu Shuguang Lu Kou bike station, at Huanglong Lu and Shuguang Lu 黄龙路曙光路口公共自行车租赁服务点, 黄龙路曙光路路口
Distance: 9.7 kilometers
From the south end of Yanggong Di, you could easily bike straight up this winding lakeside causeway and enjoy plenty of idyllic scenery beside the road.
But to truly capture the mystic appeal of West Lake's quietest and most forested corners, head west off the main road and get lost amongst hidden paths, imperial tombs and temples and manicured gardens fit for an empress.
After emerging back into clamorous civilization at Yanggong Di's north end, continue north onto Shuguang Lu, taking note of the many cafés, bars and top-notch restaurants you'd like to sample.
Find the bike stall near Yellow Dragon Stadium and backtrack on foot to explore the range of Thai, French, Spanish, Mexican and Jiangnan restaurants on Baishaquan Alley.
3. Quyuan Fenghe to Temple of Soul's Retreat 曲院风荷到灵隐寺
Start: Quyuan Fenghe bike station, near corner of Beishan Lu and Yanggong Di 曲院风荷公共自行车租赁服务点, 靠北山路和杨公堤
End: Temple of Soul's Retreat (Lingyin Si) bike station 灵隐站公共自行车租赁服务点
Distance: 3.6 kilometers
From West Lake's northwest corner, ride west down Lingyin Lu toward Lingyin Si, one of Hangzhou's (and China's) largest Buddhist temples, but not before taking a detour to lush Hangzhou Botanical Park (杭州植物园).
Continuing west down Lingyin Lu provides a minor uphill challenge. The effort is a small price to pay for reaching what is arguably the most beautiful and well-maintained Buddhist temple in China, replete with an imposing 20-meter, gold-plated Siddhartha Guatama Buddha.
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Temple of Soul's Retreat (Lingyin Temple), 1 Lingyin Lu and Fayun Nong 灵隐寺, 灵隐路法云弄1号, +86 571 8796 8665, www.lingyinsi.org; Admission: RMB 30
4. The Grand Canal 京杭大运河
Start: Qiutao Bei Lu bike station, at Qiutao Bei Lu and the Grand Canal 秋涛北路公共自行车租赁服务点, 秋涛北路和京杭大运河交口
End: Dengyun Lu bike station, at Dengyun Lu and Xinchang Lu 登云路公共自行车租赁服务点, 登云路和新昌路路口
Distance: Approximately 11.5 kilometers
The longest bike route on this list is perhaps the trickiest one, as it has no direct road or path.
However, to experience the grandeur of the 2,000-year-old Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, recently renovated to prim elegance, one could do worse than taking a half-day or so to wheel down the canal-side footpaths and admire the waterside gardens and elderly tai chi practitioners.
The footpaths are occasionally interrupted by thoroughfares and tributary canals, but it's easy enough to find your way around these and back to the route hugging the water.
Do this and you’ll pass history museums, gleaming high-rises, dazzling modern architecture, water taxis, river barges from way up north and neon nighttime glory.
At the northern reach of the journey, look for an excellent, hidden-away café called MeToo Café, just after passing Daguan Lu. The cafe has a cozy, remodeled factory atmosphere, decent Western fare, board games and free Wi-Fi.
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MeToo Café, corner of Jinhua Lu and Jinhong Lu, across from Ouxiang Taiwan Bread House 蜜桃咖啡金华路锦鸿路路口, 欧香台湾面包坊对面, +86 0571 8801 9967, www.metoocafe.com
5. Six Harmonies Pagoda to Qianjiang New City 六和塔到钱江新城
Start: Liuhe Ta bike station, at Liuhe Pagoda, near corner of Zhijiang Lu and Qiantang Jiang Da Qiao (Qiantang Bridge) “六和塔”公共自行车租赁服务点,靠之江路和钱塘江大桥
End: Jiefang Dong Lu bike station, at Jiefang Lu and Zhijiang Lu “解放东路”公共自行车租赁服务点
Distance: 9.6 kilometers
You'll have to bus or cab to the Six Harmonies Pagoda (Liuhe Ta) to get to the start of this route.
After checking out Hangzhou's oldest pagoda (dating to 970 AD), follow this rewarding route alongside the Qiantang River. The path crosses three huge, river-spanning bridges providing glimpses into Hangzhou's planned modernist, waterside future.
Upon arriving in Qianjiang New City, step into the world of “Blade Runner,” an area of ultra-sleek architecture including large China Construction Bank towers and the 22nd-century, half moon-style Hangzhou Grand Theatre.
A good cocktail break is yours in the lounge of the iconic golden orb that is the InterContinental Hangzhou.
Bike this route around the river's high tide surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival and watch as hundreds of hapless onlookers get swept away by the largest river tidal bore in the world.
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- First stop for would-be cyclists is the Longxiang Bus Terminal at Yan'an Lu and Xueshi Lu (龙翔汽车站, 延 安路学士路路口).
- Here, visitors can open a bike-rental account.
- From the front entrance, walk toward the rear of the terminal, past the Everbright Bank, to a series of service windows.
- You'll need an RMB 200 deposit to open a bike rental account, all of which is refundable after the account is closed.
- Next, head back to the bike-rental station at the bus terminal entrance. Ask the attendant to help you choose a bike and off you go.
- More rental details are available at Hangzhou's official public bike company's website (Chinese only).
- Click here for a map (Chinese language only) of public bike stations.