Hangzhou, China doesn’t have all the international fame as some of China’s other cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu. Yes, it’s true, Hangzhou doesn’t have a Great Wall, a unique skyline, and a Panda breeding centers like those other cities. What Hangzhou has in droves is beautiful nature found in the scenic landscape of the West Lake, the surrounding mountains, and the green tea fields.
Exploring Hangzhou with Tinggly
I decided to trade the hustle and bustle of Beijing and to head to Hangzhou to get out and explore a couple of tea villages and see these famous plantations for myself.
My guide Bonnie picked me up in the morning. She spoke perfect English which is something you don’t always find when you take day tours in China. She also thoroughly explained our schedule for the day which is crucial. After five minutes I knew I made the right choice by booking this trip on Tinggly.
West Lake – Scenic Boat Ride
Hopping in our car, we headed to our first stop which was the beautiful area known as the West Lake. This lake is massive and covers of an area of over 6K. Weaving in and out of the lake are little inlets filled with lined with lush forest, colorful flowers, and scenic walkways. Speckled around the lake are tiny islands, and on the banks is a massive pagoda that has a pure gold spire reaching high into the sky. It is easy to see why West Lake is the crowning jewel of Hangzhou. It takes you out of the big city and throws you into one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen.
I’d visited West Lake before but having a guide was a completely different experience. As we took a boat ride on the still water, she explained the history of the lake, the islands, and how one of the bridges famed because it is the setting of a legend in China.
National Tea Museum
Next, we went to the National Tea Museum. Where I learned that people in China have been drinking tea for over 4,000 years! Also, during some of the dynasty’s some of the best tea’s were reserved only for the Emperor and his family. Tea was China’s little secret, and they did not start exporting it until the 1600’s. Now, Tea is one of the biggest exports in China.
The museum was filled with information, but my most helpful resource was Bonnie who was explaining the history of Tea in China as we went. It allowed me to focus on the fine details of all the ancient tea related artifacts instead of reading all the signs.
Visiting the Tea Villages and Plantations.
Our next stop was high in the mountains lined with tea trees that only added to the stunning beauty of the landscape.
We came to a little tea house high in the mountains. We sat enjoying the scenic atmosphere and sipping on Longjing Tea.
This green tea is the tribute tea in this area of China.
Bonnie explained that these tea villages are where the locals of Hangzhou come to escape the heat and get out of the city on the weekends, but it is not something a lot of westerners. After relaxing at the tea house, we started on our way to another tea village.
This is a special village for the people of Hangzhou. It was in this tea village that Emperor Qianlong from the Qing Dynasty picked some tea leaves from these trees. He then gave them to his mother who was suffering from an illness.
After drinking the tea, her illness started to fade, and Longjing was proclaimed a tribute tea of the area. Even today Longjing tea is only grown in the mountains surrounding Hangzhou.
We spent some time walking the forested paths, enjoy the epic views, and admiring the tea trees where the emperor picked the tea all those years ago.
We had been exploring this history, landscape and drinking tea for over 4 hours and it was time to head back.
Overall, this tour was everything I hoped for. I got to see some stunning scenery and learn a little history, and take drink tea in a tea house.
This was my first trip with Tinggly but I definitely using them again. The tour was awesome; the guide was fantastic, there was no sales stop. (Other than the tea house where they sell….. tea). My guide encouraged taking or time or going slow. She even let me stop to fly my drone, twice! I never felt rushed by my guide even though my tour went an hour longer.
You can check out Tinggly here. If you ever want to get my a present, I’ll take tingly, please.