THE G20 Hangzhou Summit brought world leaders from 20 major economies to the city and provided a unique opportunity to showcase Hangzhou’s culture, customs and cuisines. Many heads of state also traveled with their spouses who took in the area’s sights and attractions.
The First Lady of Canada, Sophie Trudeau visited China National Silk Museum and China National Tea Museum, wandered along Wulin Fashion Road, Hefang Street and Hangzhou Tower, dined at Wei Zhuang Restaurant, and also biked along Su Causeway. She also visited Lingyin Temple and Fish Viewing at the Flower Pond — the latter being one of the most popular West Lake scenic points.
Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan visited Orioles Singing in the Willows, another prominent West Lake viewing spot, had lunch at Guiyu Restaurant, and saw the Grand Canal. She also visited the silk museum, tea museum and Lingyin Temple. Her tour also included stops at Hu Qingyu Chinese Pharmacy as well as Hu Xueyan’s Former Residence on Hefang Street.
The route for the First Lady of Argentina, Juliana Awada, also included the China National Silk Museum, Lingyin Temple and Hefang Street. Additionally, she went to the China National Tea Museum’s Longjing Museum and biked around West Lake.
Of course, one doesn’t have to be a visiting dignitary to experience these charming attractions. Today, Shanghai Daily takes a closer look at some of the first-lady-friendly sights that deserve a spot on your own itinerary.
In total seven first ladies toured Lingyin Temple, one of China’s largest and most famous Buddhist temples.
Hangzhou is often described as “Southeast Buddhist Country” because its temples have particularly devout followers and Lingyin is one of the region’s best gems.
There has been a temple in the area as far back as the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 317-420), when a visiting Indian monk was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery and the surrounding mountains.
The nearby hills and peaks contain numerous pagodas and Buddhist grottoes. The most famous is Feilai Peak, located in front of the main temple.
The peak is made of craggy limestone that, according to legend, originated in India but was magically transported to Hangzhou overnight in a demonstration of the power of Buddhism.
Lingyin provides worshippers with simple, mild vegetarian food made with local vegetables and noodles.
Address: 1 Linyin Rd
Transport: Buses No. 7, 807, 837 to Lingyin Stop
Admission: 45 yuan (US$6.7) for entrance at Feilai Peak, 30 yuan for entrance at Lingyin Temple
China National Silk Museum
At the foot of Yuhuang Hill and beside West Lake sits China’s first national silk museum. Covering an area of 3,000 square meters, it’s also the largest museum of its kind in the world.
The permanent exhibition explains the origins and development of silk, its many varieties, the creation of the Silk Road and the importance of silk in ancient Chinese society.
The Looms Hall and the Achievements Hall show the development of ancient looms and the incredible achievements of the country and their links with silk after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. The museum is like a history book, bringing visitors to ancient China and the fantastic world of silk.
From this Sunday, it will host part of the Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, exhibiting 200-plus ancient Chinese costumes and cheongsam produced in the 20th century, as well as 400 antique European garments, including a dress made in the late-17th century.
Address: 73 Yuhuangshan Rd
Transport: Bus No. 12, 31, 42, 87 to Silk Museum Stop
China National Tea Museum
Situated amidst lush tea hills and cherry blossom trees, it is as refined as the famous local commodity it celebrates.
Hangzhou is the home of Longjing tea, known around the country for its high quality and delicate taste, and the museum was built to showcase the city’s long and abundant tea culture.
It is divided into three parts — an exhibition hall, a reception hall and a teahouse; all constructed in traditional Chinese style architecture. The first hall is devoted to the origin of tea, its historic development and the tea-making process. It also illustrates folklore and tea-related wares that highlight the city’s centuries-old history of tea cultivation. In addition, visitors can participate in an authentic tea ceremony.
Address: 88 Longjing Rd
Transport: Bus No. 27, 87 to Shuangfeng Stop
Hefang Street is the epitome of old Hangzhou with its traditional crafts and shops all vying for attention. The best way to get a deep understanding of the history of the city is by looking around Hefang Street.
The dense colorful cluster of shops and stalls offer a range of local delicacies, antiques, calligraphy, painting and even traditional herbal medicines.
With more than 100 merchants and sellers of Hangzhou specialties, the street keeps itself busy with visitors from home and abroad wandering through, none seemingly in a hurry to leave.
There are showcases of clothing in unique designs, musical instruments, puppet shows, jewelry, Chinese lamps and ornamental knots and lots of yummy local food.
Transport: Bus No. 42, 51, 102 to Yongjinmen Stop, Bus No. 8, 13, 59, 66 to Drum Tower Stop