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“One Day Private Tour to Hangzhou from Shanghai via High Speed Train”

Ranked #12 of 27 Tours in Hangzhou
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Hilversum, The Netherlands
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“One Day Private Tour to Hangzhou from Shanghai via High Speed Train”
Reviewed November 6, 2012

We booked the “One Day Private Tour to Hangzhou from Shanghai via High Speed Train” with China Private Travel and had a wonderful time.

We were picked up from our hotel in Shanghai and taken to our train by a most helpful guide (and driver). After a very smooth and fast ride to Hangzhou (the High Speed Train is in and of itself a worthwhile attraction!), we were met by our local guide for the day, Danny. He was a great guide who spoke English very well and not only explained the local history in an entertaining way but also gave us a general insight into life in modern China. This all made for a great day in which we visited the following places: West Lake by boat with its surrounding green mountains, pavilions and towers; Lingyin Temple, a working temple; the Dragon Well Tea Village where we had a mini tea tasting of Longjing green tea, amongst other teas; Qing Dynasty Hefang Street, a pedestrian street with snack stalls, teahouses and Chinese traditional medicine stores.

Hangzhou is an absolutely lovely city, which despite it’s very modern buildings, still has many places exuding serenity and harmony (for example, the middle of West Lake) and the charm of old China. We just wish we could have stayed for more than one day. If possible, don’t miss it!

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
30 Thank RenJoan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Marietta, Georgia
Level 6 Contributor
82 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“Hangzhou by bullet train from Shanghai - 12 hour day tour”
Reviewed September 2, 2011

On arrival day we took a tour to the ancient city of Hangzhou (previously known As Hangchow) that we booked by internet from home through the China Travel Service in Beijing. The city was visited by Marco Polo who commented that it was the most beautiful city in the world.

We were met a the pier by a driver who took us the Hongquio Railway Station where we boarded the bullet train to Hangzhou. It took 45 minutes for the 115 mile journey reaching a speed of 344 km/h (206 mph) going and 355 km/h (213 mph) on return. The train comprised about 10 cars that were fully packed. The train was very comfortable. It rides on an elevated roadway for much of its 120 mile route. The ride is extremely smooth, you don't notice the speed except for when another bullet train passes going the other direction.

Australian friends Rob and Jeanie Dunkley of NSW who we met on the River Kwai tour also went on this excursion. Our guide Jack met us at the train station and we were packed into a small van. Jack was a very nice young man who was obviously very enthusiastic about his city of Hangzhou. Jack is a tea farmer and took pride in his calloused and stained hands. He does these tours as a sideline.

Hangzhou is a very beautiful city with many gardens, tree lined streets, parks, etc. The downtown area is very clean and more laid-back and relaxing than hectic bustling Shanghai or Hong Kong. The drivers are very aggressive here, using horns to warn fellow drivers as well as pedestrians that they are coming through. The drivers often pass by going into the left (incoming) traffic lane forcing incoming cars to swerve to their right to avoid a collision. Surprisingly we did not see one damaged car in the whole city!

We stopped at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, an old Catholic Church that was first built over 400 years ago. It has been opened and closed many times over history by Chinese emperors and lastly during the Cultural Revolution where it was converted to a prison. It has been restored to active church status though the Catholic Church there operates, by government decree, independent of Rome. Jack had never been in a church before so he had to research the history to tell us about its history. He had the watchman open the church for us.

We next visited the Lingyin Temple, believed to the be the oldest Buddhist temple in the area. This is a huge complex with gardens, trees, caves, and hills. There are several halls with statues of Buddha and various attendants, most of which were made of camphor root. Some of these statues are very tall and very wide. It is amazing to think that are made of a single tree root. Legend has it that it was founded by monks who flew from India. Some images are definitely Indian whilst others are clearly Chinese. Images of Buddha are carved in caves and on stone sides of the hills. Photography was not permitted inside the halls but I got a couple that I took from outside that show the size and artistry of the Buddhas inside. There were worshipers inside who kneel on cushions and kowtow and pray before the Buddhas.

Some of the images were partially destroyed by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Red Guards were students who under government authorization who destroyed much of China's historical heritage. The government wanted to wipe out the old ways thinking that religion was merely superstition and all vestiges of it needed to be eradicated from Chinese life (it reminds me of the ACLU trying to destroy Christianity in the USA). Jack commented that I looked like a happy Buddha (there are happy and furious Buddha depictions). He told me that I should give up beer and drink green tea to become slim like him.

Then we went to Meijiawu, a small village near Hangzhou. to see how green tea is grown and processed but first stopped at at a farmer's house for lunch. All of the farmers' houses fronting the road serve food as quasi restaurants. We first sat outside until it started to rain. Inside there were only two large round tables. we used one and the employees had lunch at the other. The lunch was good. It started with a chicken soup which was actually a whole chicken in a pot of broth. After that they served an omelet dish of egg and a green vegetable which my wife said was great. The next dish was a pig's foot for each of us (very fatty on the outside but inside the meat was tasty and succulent). Next dish was a fish from West Lake that my wife and the others said was superb (I passed as I do with most fish). Rob and I had beers with our lunch and all of us had green tea which is produced locally.

Next we walked through some very narrow streets passing many farmers' homes. Finally we arrived at the gate of one which was Jack's home. We went inside and were greeted by his mother and father. His father spends the day swishing the dry tea leaves in a heated metal bowl which is a process in preparing tea for sale. Jack and his father built the house themselves and it was very luxurious and modern. His wife came out to see us. They have one son who was at school. Chinese laws limit families to a single child. My wife asked what happens if a wife gets pregnant again. Jack said they take her to a hospital, which we guess means abortion. He said the government is relaxing this on some people. They can petition the government as Jack has and try to get permission to have a second child (Jack says they were granted permission)).

After a tour of the house we all went out to a terraced patio where Jack prepared tea for us. The leaves are put into a glass and scalding water is poured into the glass. He said that you can use the leaves 3 or 4 times. Most Chinese then eat the leaves for their medicinal value. Jack said you always serve friends a half glass of tea as a full glass means that it is time for them to leave!

He showed us three grades of tea, the best being the small leaves and retrogressing down the quality scale as the size of the leaves get larger. Their province is the top producer of quality tea with one type called Emperor's Tea as it was the favorite of one of the former emperors. He said that other provinces produce inferior grades. On the hillside behind them were rows upon rows of tea bushes. Women are hired to pick the tea by hand here (other provinces use mechanized methods). His father also provides meals for the pickers and he carries the food to them on the hillsides where they work. I asked if the farmers owned the land. Jack replied that the government owns all the land, people are granted use of plots to build houses and grow tea based on the number of people in the family.

Top grade tea grown here sells for RMB1500 per half kilo (about US$200 a pound). We learned a lot about tea at this visit to his home and certainly enjoyed this stop to see how they live.

After that we went to West Lake and were scheduled for a cruise on the lake but the weather changed again to rain so the cruise was cancelled. We walked around the lake area joining multitudes of Chinese. Jack pointed out a restaurant that is number 1 in the province, in fact Premier Chou en Lai had taken President Richard Nixon here for lunch on Nixon's initial China visit.

While the ladies visited a WC, I was approached by a young Chinese lady indicating whether it was OK for her to take a picture of me. Of course I consented. Then she stood next to me for the picture and Rob said he would join too. I wish I had asked her friend to take a photo with our camera as my wife doesn't believe this actually happened. I explained that she must have admired my Buddha-like physique!

We caught the 19:00 bullet train back to Shanghai, arriving about an hour later (this train was not express, there was one stop). We caught a taxi back to the ship arriving about 20:30 at the terminal. We were bushed so we had sandwiches delivered to our cabin and then retired early to get up early to take in Shanghai the next day.

The Hangzhou visit was well worth the cost (US$155 per person) including transportation to the train station, the bullet train tickets, the van driver and guide, and the lunch. We would recommend China Travel Service tour to Hangzhou as a "must" when visiting Shanghai. Our agent was Alex Lee.

Visited April 2011
Helpful?
46 Thank Phil F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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