Spring is a great time to bicycle around Hangzhou’s green hills as flowers bloom along roads and the tea harvest approaches. Such low-carbon sightseeing is increasingly popular as the government encourages citizens to ride more in order to ease traffic congestion in downtown areas. Shanghai Daily recommends a few routes for a spring outing.
Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard — Lingyin Temple
This route connects Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard in the northeast and Lingyin Temple in the city’s southwest. Lush vegetation along the route gives riders a chance to inhale some fresher air.
Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard is considered the city’s prime lotus viewing place during the summer. This classical garden with pavilion, wooden bridges and winding elevated planks is colorful in the spring with plum and magnolia blossoms now in season.
Lingyin temple features a large number of grottoes and religious rock carvings. As one of the country’s most noted temples, it is often crowded with worshippers year around.
On the way to Lingyin Temple, cyclists pass Jiu Li Yun Song, one of the 18 sights of ancient Hangzhou. According to historical documents it was the earliest wooded area created by people. Planting trees and other plants date back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Pine trees line the bicycle path here.
This route is considered the best bicycle path in Hangzhou and is popular among tourists since it includes two famous causeways on West Lake.
This 5.4-kilometer trip crosses Bai Causeway, then passes Solitary Hill and Louwailou Restaurant before reaching the southern end of Su causeway.
The route starts from Broken Bridge, where Madam White Snake (a snake sorceress who appears as a woman) meets Xu Xian, a mortal who she falls in love with) and borrows an umbrella from him according to the legend of “Madame White Snake.”
Bai Causeway was piled by the sediment dredged from West Lake during the Tang Dynasty under the direction of Hangzhou mayor Bai Juyi, also a renowned poet. Su Causeway was built by Su Shi, who was also a great poet, calligrapher, statesman and mayor of Hangzhou during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Today, the two causeways are covered with pavilions, bonsais, flowers and vegetation. Lakeside views make for a nice leisurely ride.
Solitary Hill, also called Gushan, is a natural islet on West Lake featuring picturesque views and abundant historical relics. It connects Bai Causeway and Xiling Bridge.
Many famous people have lived on Solitude Hill and some are also buried there. Qiu Jin, Su Manshu and Chen Qimei, three revolutionary activists in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), were interred there. Locals erected statues to commemorate the martyrs.
The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal was created between the 5th century BC and the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618) and at 2,253 kilometers is the longest in the world. Last year, UNESCO added it to its World Heritage list.
The Hangzhou government has spent years developing the historic Grand Canal area into a new block featuring restored old buildings and stores where people can experience folk culture and get a sense of the past.
One bike route starts from Hangzhou Bay Hotel and continues to Xiangji Temple and Xiaohezhi Street before ending at Zijing Homeland. This route gives a glimpse of how the city has changed over the centuries as it includes 500-year-old Gongcheng Bridge and numerous old neighborhoods.
Distance: 9.6 kilometers
Route: Liuhe Pagoda-Zhijiang Road-Hangzhou Grand Theater
Qiantang River is famous for its spectacular tides in lunar August. As the mother river of Hangzhou, it originates from the border of Anhui and Jiangxi provinces and passes through Hangzhou before flowing into Hangzhou Bay.
Qianjiang New Town is nestled along the Qiantang River and the route passes through the town. Highlights include Liuhe Pagoda, which was built in AD 970, and the Qiantang River No. 1 Bridge built in the 1930s. Riders will also pass the crescent-shaped Hangzhou Grand Theater.
Yangmeiling Village — Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies
Distance: 11.6 kilometers
Route: Yangmeiling Village—Yangmeiling Road—Jiuxi Road—Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies
Yangmeiling is hidden among the lush vegetation and hills in the southwest of West Lake. Unlike other villages in the area, Yangmeiling is tranquil and peaceful with fewer visitors and vehicles. Homes in Yangmeiling are typical of Zhejiang folk houses, characterized by white walls, brick roofs, carved windows and wooden handrails.
Cyclists pass through the village along the only road, Qianlong Road, named after Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Since the road is narrow and paved with coarse stone slabs, bikers will need to be more careful than usual.
Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies is considered by many as one of West Lake’s most beautiful attractions. It is a rural landscape of fields, folk houses, streams and pavilions.
Bikers could bicycle toward Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies by way of Longjing Village, which is renowned for Longjing tea and family-run guesthouses. As the tea harvest approaches, riders can stop for Longjing tea if they feel thirsty.