Culture + Style

Winding Your Way Through Hangzhou, China’s Roads Less Traveled

As one of China’s seven ancient capitals, Hangzhou offers visitors an interesting slice of traditional Chinese culture. Venture beyond the city’s iconic West Lake for new and surprising views of a city that has much waiting to be discovered.

Synthetic Running and Bicycle Track

Need an outdoors fix? Exercise your muscles and soothe your mind on this 4-mile running track made from environmentally friendly materials. The pleasant stretch along Hangzhou’s Qiantang River is set off from the road by grass banks. In autumn around 100 lush trees form a calming backdrop, but the views are even better in spring when they erupt with dazzling sakura blossoms.

Address: Wentao Road, Binjiang District

Zhongshuge Bookstore

Hangzhou, China
Bibliophiles, rejoice! (Photo: Getty Images)

Booklovers, rejoice! Bookstores take on a great scale in China and none more so than Zhongshuge, with its colliding stacked shelves and mirrored ceilings. Here, good-looking tomes on design, lifestyle and culture are displayed around reading nooks and the occasional performance space, while a coffee shop completes the impressive ambiance.

Bibliophiles will want to set aside at least an hour to spend here, perusing all manner of books. Go on weekdays if you can to avoid the crowds.

Address: 205, 4th Building, Star Avenue Phase 2, Binjiang District

Xianghu Lake

Hangzhou, China
Take a moment to find your inner peace at the lake. (Photo: Getty Images)

Anyone who has been to Hangzhou has most likely strolled around its number-one tourist attraction, West Lake, but there’s another body of water here that’s just as pretty. Xianghu Lake boasts expansive freshwater views disturbed only by a few picturesque bridges and soaring green mountains.

A designated “scenic” area around the site houses the ancient Xiasun folk village and the gleaming-roofed Kuahuqiao Relics Museum, with artifacts from the Kuahuqiao people who gave rise the area’s Zhejiang civilization. Items on display include the world’s first canoe, which is estimated to be at least 8,000 years old.

Address: Xianghu Lake, Xiaoshan District