What You Need To Know
Hangzhou, formerly romanized as Hangchow, is the capital and most populous city of Zhejiang Province in east China. It sits at the head of Hangzhou Bay, which separates Shanghai and Ningbo. Hangzhou grew to prominence as the southern terminus of the Grand Canal and has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities in China for much of the last millennium, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery. The city’s West Lake is its best-known attraction. Hangzhou is classified as a sub-provincial city and forms the core of the Hangzhou metropolitan area, the fourth-largest in China. During the 2010 Chinese census, the metropolitan area held 21.102 million people over an area of 34,585 km2(13,353 sq mi). Hangzhou prefecture had a registered population of 9,018,000 in 2015. In September 2015, Hangzhou was awarded the 2022 Asian Games. It will be the third Chinese city to play host to the Asian Games after Beijing 1990 and Guangzhou 2010. Hangzhou, an emerging technology hub and home to the e-commerce giant Alibaba, also hosted the eleventh G-20 summit in 2016.
Area: 16,847 km²
Population: Estimate 9.188 million
Hangzhou Currency Exchange. Chinese Yuan (also known as Renminbi, rmb for short) is the official and legal currency in circulation. Use of foreign currencies is generally not allowed.
- “Paradise above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below.” (simplified Chinese: 上有天堂, 下有苏杭; traditional Chinese: 上有天堂, 下有蘇杭)
This phrase has a similar meaning to the English phrases “Heaven on Earth”. Marco Polo in his accounts described Suzhou as “the city of the earth” while Hangzhou is “the city of heaven”. The city presented itself as “Paradise on Earth” during the G20 summit held in the city in 2016.
Another popular saying about Hangzhou is:
- “Be born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou, die in Liuzhou.” (simplified Chinese: 生在苏州, 活在杭州, 吃在广州, 死在柳州; traditional Chinese: 生在蘇州, 活在杭州, 吃在廣州, 死在柳州)
The meaning here lies in the fact that Suzhou was renowned for its beautiful and highly civilized and educated citizens, Hangzhou for its scenery, Guangzhou for its food, and Liuzhou (of Guangxi) for its wooden coffins which supposedly halted the decay of the body (likely made from the camphor tree).
Hangzhou’s economy has rapidly developed since its opening up in 1992. It is an industrial city with many diverse sectors such as light industry, agriculture, and textiles. It is considered an important manufacturing base and logistics hub for coastal China. The 2001 GDP of Hangzhou was RMB ¥156.8 billion, which ranked second among all of the provincial capitals after Guangzhou. The city has more than tripled its GDP since then, increasing from RMB ¥156.8 billion in 2001 to RMB ¥1.105 trillion in 2016 and GDP per capita increasing from US$3,025 to US$18,282. The city has developed many new industries, including medicine, information technology, heavy equipment, automotive components, household electrical appliances, electronics, telecommunication, fine chemicals, chemical fibre and food processing.
Healthcare in China consists of both public and private medical institutions and insurance programs. About 95% of the population has at least basic health insurance coverage. Despite this, public health insurance generally only covers about half of medical costs, with the proportion lower for serious or chronic illnesses. Under the “Healthy China 2020” initiative, China is currently undertaking an effort to cut healthcare costs, and the government requires that insurance will cover 70%of costs by 2017. The Chinese government is working on providing affordable basic healthcare to all residents by 2020. China has also become a major market for health-related multinational companies. Companies such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, and Merck entered the Chinese market and have experienced explosive growth. China has also become a growing hub for health care research and development. The above applies to Mainland China. Taiwan and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau maintain their own separate universal healthcare systems.
The native residents of Hangzhou, like those of Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu, speak Hangzhou dialect, which is a Wu dialect. However, Wu Chinese varies throughout the area where it is spoken, hence, Hangzhou’s dialect differs from regions in southern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu. As the official language defined by China’s central government, Mandarin is the dominant spoken language.
Hangzhou is served by the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, which provides direct service to many international destinations such as Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Netherlands, Qatar, and the United States. Regional routes reach Hong Kong and Macau. It has an extensive domestic route network within the PRC and is consistently ranked top 10 in passenger traffic among Chinese airports. Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport has two terminals, Terminal A and Terminal B. The smaller Terminal A serves all international and regional flights while the larger Terminal B solely handles domestic traffic. The airport is located just outside the city in the Xiaoshan District with direct bus service linking the airport with Downtown Hangzhou. The ambitious expansion project will see the addition of a second runway and a third terminal which will dramatically increase capacity of the fast-growing airport that serves as a secondary hub of Air China. A new elevated airport express highway is under construction on top of the existing highway between the airport and downtown Hangzhou. The second phase of Hangzhou Metro Line 1 has a planned extension to the airport. Hangzhou sits on the intersecting point of some of the busiest rail corridors in China. The city’s main station is Hangzhou East Railway Station (colloquially “East Station” 东站). It is one of the biggest rail traffic hubs in China, consisting of 15 platforms that house the High Speed CRH service to Shanghai, Nanjing, Changsha, Ningbo, and beyond. The subway station beneath the rail complex building is a stop along the Hangzhou Metro Line 1 and Line 4. There are frequent departures for Shanghai with approximately 20-minute headways from 6:00 to 21:00. Non-stop CRH high-speed service between Hangzhou and Shanghai takes 50 minutes and leaves every hour (excluding a few early morning/late night departures) from both directions. Other CRH high-speed trains that stop at one or more stations along the route complete the trip in 59 to 75 minutes. Most other major cities in China can also be reached by direct train service from Hangzhou. The Hangzhou Railway Station (colloquially the “City Station” Chinese: 城站) was closed for renovation in mid 2013 but has recently opened again. Direct trains link Hangzhou with more than 50 main cities, including 12 daily services to Beijing and more than 100 daily services to Shanghai; they reach as far as Ürümqi. The China Railway High-Speed service inaugurated on October 26, 2010. The service is operated by the CRH 380A(L), CRH 380B(L) and CRH380CL train sets which travel at a maximum speed of 350 km/h (220 mph), shortening the duration of the 202 km (126 mi) trip to only 45 minutes. Central (to the east of the city centre, taking the place of the former east station), north, south, and west long-distance bus stations offer frequent coach service to nearby cities/towns within Zhejiang province, as well as surrounding provinces. Hangzhou has an efficient public transportation network, consisting of a modern fleet of regular diesel bus, trolley bus, hybrid diesel-electric bus and taxi. The first subway line entered into service in late 2012. Hangzhou is known for its extensive Bus Rapid Transit network expanding from downtown to many suburban areas through dedicated bus lanes on some of the busiest streets in the city. Bicycles and electric scooters are very popular, and major streets have dedicated bike lanes throughout the city. Hangzhou has an extensive free public bike rental system, the Hangzhou Public Bicycle system. Taxis are also popular in the city, with the newest line of Hyundai Sonatas and Volkswagen Passats, and tight regulations. In early 2011, 30 electric taxis were deployed in Hangzhou; 15 were Zotye Langyues and the other 15 were Haima Freemas. In April, however, one Zoyte Langyue caught fire, and all of the electric taxis were taken off the roads later that day. The city still intends to have a fleet of 200 electric taxis by the end of 2011. In 2014, a large number of new electric taxis produced by Xihu-BYD (Xihu (westlake) is a local company which is famous for television it produced in the past) were deployed. The Hangzhou Metro began construction in March 2006, and the first line opened on November 24, 2012. Line 1 connects downtown Hangzhou with suburban areas of the city from Xianghu to Wenze Road and Linping. By June 2015, the southeast part of Line 2 (starts in Xiaoshan District, ends to the south of the city centre) and a short part of Line 4 (fewer than 10 stations, connecting Line 1 & Line 2) were completed. The system is expected to have 10 lines upon completion; most lines are still under construction. The extensions of Line 2 (Xihu District) and Line 4 (east of Bingjiang) are expected to be finished in 2016.
Hangzhou is renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty. It is known as one of the most beautiful cities in China, also ranking as one of the most scenic cities. Although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, it still retains its historical and cultural heritage. Today, tourism remains an important factor for Hangzhou’s economy. One of Hangzhou’s most popular sights is West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The West Lake Cultural Landscape covers an area of 3,323 ha (8,210 acres) and includes some of Hangzhou’s most notable historic and scenic places. Adjacent to the lake is a scenic area which includes historical pagodas, cultural sites, as well as the natural beauty of the lake and hills, including Phoenix Mountain. There are two causeways across the lake.
Hangzhou’s climate is humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa) with four distinctive seasons, characterised by long, very hot, humid summers and chilly, cloudy and drier winters (with occasional snow). The mean annual temperature is 17.0 °C (62.6 °F), with monthly daily averages ranging from 4.6 °C (40.3 °F) in January to 28.9 °C (84.0 °F) in July. The city receives an average annual rainfall of 1,438.0 mm (56.6 in) and is affected by the plum rains of the Asian monsoon in June. In late summer (August to September), Hangzhou suffers typhoon storms, but typhoons seldom strike it directly. Generally they make landfall along the southern coast of Zhejiang, and affect the area with strong winds and stormy rains. Extremes since 1951 have ranged from −9.6 °C (15 °F) on 6 February 1969 up to 41.6 °C (107 °F) on 9 August 2013; unofficial readings have reached −10.5 °C (13 °F), set on 29 December 1912 and 24 January 1916, up to 42.1 °C (108 °F), set on 10 August 1930. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 30% in March to 51% in August, the city receives 1,709.4 hours of sunshine annually.