Hangzhou,West Lake

Hangzhou’s legendary WestLakeconjures images of sweeping willows and morning mist along the shores of China’s most famous and revered of lakes.

Heralded as one of the most romantic cities in China,Hangzhouis ripe with historic and sensual sites to enchant the amorous and curious who make their way here. Just over 200kmsouthwest of Shanghai, Hangzhou requires only a short jaunt to scratch the surface its charming pagodas, the timeless West Lake and modern amenities.

What really put Hangzhouon the proverbial map is the Grand Canal. Built during the Sui dynasty, the Grand Canal was a massive network of canals and waterways linking Hangzhouto the north. Food and goods were shipped from the agriculturally rich south to supply the comparatively desolate north, Hangzhouquickly developed into an important center of transportation and trade.

Hangzhou’s height came when the Song dynasty court was driven from its capital at Kaifengby northern invaders, and the Song court resettled in here and made it the imperial capital of the Southern Song dynasty. A population boom followed and the city flourished economically and culturally. Song influences still abound throughout the city?from the food to the language.