Category Archives: Hangzhou

11 Days Free and Easy China Tour – Day 3 Tangkou Huangshan Jiulong Waterfall Park

Huachen Hotel to West Bus Station

This would be an exciting day as we prepared to move out of Hangzhou to Tangkou in Huangshan. We checked out at 6.30 am. The process was pretty quick. The staff from Huachen International Hotel were very efficient. They called two taxis for us to go to West Bus Station.

We could have checked out earlier and then crossed over a traffic junction to take bus 49 to West Bus Station.  Bus fare would cost only CNY 2 each. But with luggage to lug along and spending time to wait for the bus with an hour travelling time, we decided to take taxis to West Bus Station rather than incurring more stress so early in the morning. As we had already purchased our bus tickets for the 8 am ride so all we had to do was to show up on time.

The two taxis came shortly one after the other. We boarded the taxis and were on our way to West Bus Station. The taxis travelled along the perimeter road of Westlake. Road traffics were pretty light so early in the morning. We arrived around 7.20 am after about 40 minutes of taxi ride. We alighted near the main entrance not far from the McDonalds. So we conveniently went in to get breakfast. We bought some food to bring for the bus ride too. We also bought some rice dumplings on the second floor restaurant to bring along for the bus ride.

Bus from Hangzhou to Tangkou in Huangshan

Next we went through security to get our bags scanned and then entered the hall to wait for the departing bus for Tangkou. Not long after, we were allowed to board the bus near to 8 am. Surprisingly, the bus was so empty. Only our family with another couple as well as another woman made up all the passengers for the bus ride. The bus driver was a friendly chap. He told us we would be changing bus shortly because there were so few passengers during this off peak season. Continue reading 11 Days Free and Easy China Tour – Day 3 Tangkou Huangshan Jiulong Waterfall Park

11 Days Free and Easy China Tour – Day 2 Hangzhou Westlake

Breakfast at Huachen International Hotel

After just a few hours sleep, we got up to head for breakfast. There was much to do this day, especially to purchase all our high speed train tickets for the train rides for this China tour. Breakfast was held at the restaurant on the 19th floor. The views of the surrounding area of downtown Hangzhou was awesome. Westlake could be seen in the distance but the morning was a little hazy and the lake views were somewhat hindered.

Christmas decorations were visible at the restaurant this time of the year. The restaurant was a warm welcome for us to start our day here. Buffet breakfast spread was huge with both Chinese and Western items. After the sumptuous breakfast, we returned to our rooms to get ready to begin our day in Hangzhou.

Heading to Hangzhou Railway Station

Once we got ourselves ready to prepare for quite a bit of walking, we left Huachen International Hotel. We turned left and walked along Ping Hai Road towards Westlake. The area was pretty busy this morning. We didn’t have to walk very far towards the lake when we spotted the entrance into Longxiangqiao MRT Station. So we descended into the station and bought our train tickets to head to Chengzhan MRT Station where Hangzhou Railway Station is located. Continue reading 11 Days Free and Easy China Tour – Day 2 Hangzhou Westlake

11 Days 10 Nights Free and Easy Hangzhou to Guangzhou China Tour

Last year, we did a 11 Days 10 Nights China tour from Hangzhou to Guangzhou over Christmas. This was a DIY tour covering cities in Hangzhou, Xiamen and Guangzhou. Along the way, we also covered Huangshan and Wuyishan.

Our children came along with us happily because this was a free and easy trip. They won’t join us if we took a tour package because they didn’t like to follow their tour regime having to wake up very early and reach hotels very late at night. More annoying would be the sales talk during the tour which they consider a waste of their time.

We started planning in May to secure air tickets from Scoots flying into Hangzhou and then departing from Guangzhou costing only slightly more than $300 per person. The flight timings may not be very ideal but for just over $300 flying in and departing from a different city, it was a deal. Our flight schedules are as follows:

Singapore to Hangzhou 1650 to 2145
Guangzhou to Singapore 0345 to 0815

Next was to work out our itinerary which places to visit beginning with Hangzhou ending in Guangzhou. We decided this would be part of a nature tour with shopping towards the end at Guangzhou. We even booked a hot spring spa resort to stay in Xiamen.

In addition, we would travel mostly by high speed trains between cities. From Hangzhou to Huangshan, we found it more convenient to travel by long distance bus to the foot of Huangshan to a small town Tangkou. Transportation cost for trains and long distance buses was under $150 per person. The website to check high speed train schedules in China is here.

China Train Guide

Of course we also booked hotels early from to lock in good hotel rates. Total hotel cost was under $450 per person for the ten nights staying from three to five stars hotel.

So here is our itinerary for the tour. Continue reading 11 Days 10 Nights Free and Easy Hangzhou to Guangzhou China Tour


Day 5 – Hangzhou to Jiaxing

It was the usual early breakfast again in order to beat the crowd so we could brush up and rest a little before leaving the hotel. After a few days, the buffet breakfast became more or less about the same in these local 5-star hotels. There was nothing special to report about the breakfast other than the poor translation for some of the dishes into English that turned into some offensive joke.

So after using the toilet and rested a little more, it was time to head to the lobby to get ready to start the day tour in Hangzhou. This hotel has a mini convenience store at the corner of the lobby which is quite handy. The location of this hotel was not so ideal but since we arrived late at night, there was no point venturing out on a cold winter night to explore.

Outside the hotel was a huge carpark with several tour buses parked there. This hotel is more suitable for tour groups for convenience of parking tour buses as parking charges in Hangzhou are insanely expensive. When the luggage from our group had been loaded up the bus, we set off for our first destination, the famous Westlake in Hangzhou.

We didn’t notice any local guide coming on board with us this morning. Jackie mentioned that the local guide had called to report that he was unwell so we won’t have a local guide this morning. It wasn’t a problem at all as Jackie could act as our local guide being a local of this city.

It was a little misty early this morning as we travelled towards Westlake which wasn’t very far away. Due to the heavy traffic, it took us about 25 minutes to arrive. Our driver Mr. Zhang was driving into Westlake and was looking for a suitable place for us to alight. While driving in the vicinity of Westlake, he took a wrong turn into a no entry side road. We were surprised as the no entry sign was clearly seen. Perhaps he had missed it which didn’t surprise us as he had been reckless at times during these past few days.

There was a lot of shouting from people on the road pointing at him as there were also road works on this side road. He didn’t go very far up this road and he stopped the bus quickly. We were told to alight quickly as well. By now, many people on the road were staring at him and people were talking about him getting into trouble for this traffic offence. An officer was walking up to him while we were walking away from the bus.

We were already inside Westlake so we crossed the road and walked towards the entrance while our driver reversed the bus slowly and then drove off along the road. Having been to Westlake for several tours, this was the first time we encountered such trouble. Anyway, we soon forgot about our driver and we moved on to enjoy the beautiful park in Westlake which was getting crowded so early barely 9 am in the morning.

The park by the lake was indeed beautiful, so serene and calm exuding an air of peace and joy. This was no doubt a happy place to be and not a sad face to be found. The ground at the entrance was decorated with pretty flowers and the park was very well kept. The lake was peaceful with the occasional boat man steering and rowing their small fishing boat on the lake with the unmistakable Lei Feng Pagoda on the lake. The willows along the lake provided graceful adornment to this famous Westlake of Hangzhou City.

We walked along the lake and took pictures and enjoy the sight as we strolled along. Jackie went to the ticket booth to secure tickets for our boat rides on the lake. There were shops at the park by the lake selling souvenirs and such and visitors were taking pictures excitedly waiting for their boat rides. Although this was a winter morning, the temperature wasn’t too low and made for a pleasant stroll in the park. Continue reading 8 DAYS 7 NIGHTS JIANGNAN TOUR – SHANGHAI, SUZHOU, WUXI, NANJING, HANGZHOU AND JIAXING – DAY 5


Day 4 – Nanjing to Hangzhou

This was another usual morning where we went to the restaurant to be among the first to get our breakfast fixed. Buffet spread was ready when we arrived and we got our food which was pretty much about the same standards with the previous few hotels we had stayed the past few days. The restaurant was nice and the food was pretty alright with mostly Chinese dishes plus some western items. With breakfast done, we went back to our room.

From our room windows, we could see high rise buildings and the giant ferries wheel at the amusement park. The sun was rising and it looked like a promising day. We brushed up and got ourselves comfortable to get ready to head out for our tour activities. Our bags were already left outside the room for the porters while we rested a little more in our room.

After a while, we returned our room keys to front desk and chatted with other tour members waiting at the lobby. We also went out of the hotel for a quick look and the weather looked pretty good for our morning tour of Nanjing. The surrounding was quiet early this morning except noisy tour groups were loitering at the lobby waiting to leave the hotel.

It was a hive of activities at the hotel with porters busy counting luggage and loading them up buses. Eventually, we boarded our bus and were soon on our way to tour Nanjing. The local guide Jimmy wasn’t at the hotel to join us this morning. He was waiting for us at the first destination at the Yangtze River Bridge.

It was a good day with the sun shinning brightly so it was not so cold this winter morning. Whenever we visited Nanjing during winter in the past, this city had been freezing cold. So we were rather glad we had good weather this time.

We left the hotel around 8 am. Our driver seemed to know the way around as we pulled away from this shopping district to rendezvous with Jimmy at the Yangtze River Bridge. We were in good time to begin our day. Just 15 minutes into the journey, we were caught in a horrible traffic jam near an underpass. It was so confusing and everyone was speculating whether there was a terrible accident down the road. Our driver was getting impatient and started cursing. Continue reading 8 DAYS 7 NIGHTS JIANGNAN TOUR – SHANGHAI, SUZHOU, WUXI, NANJING, HANGZHOU AND JIAXING – DAY 4