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Hangzhou

Though Zhejiang may be one of China's smallest provinces, it is filled with some of the most stunning scenery in the country and the famed city of Hangzhou. Hangzhou downtown is similar to many Chinese cities: large apartment blocks and other high rise buildings, but escape to the West Lake, where most of the hotels lie, and you are transported to the kind of China you dream about. Even the drive from the airport to the lake is stunning with tree lined boulevards and flowers blooming everywhere. Hangzhou's West Lake has been praised by poets for centuries, and the tranquil pavilions and gardens that surround its banks are equally charming. The local Silk and Dragon Well (longjiang) tea from Hangzhou have long been sought after by merchants from around the world. Hangzhou is located on the Grand Canal, which was one of the great engineering feats of Imperial China, a 2,250 km (1,400 mile) waterway linking Beijing and Zhejiang's Hangzhou, as well as some of the most beautiful and prosperous cities that sprung up along its course. It was considered to be the finest city on earth by Marco Polo with classical gardens and exquisite architecture that still hold the essence of China's Imperial Past. Take part in a tea ceremony, practice Tai Chi with a master on the lake side or take a peaceful gondola glide on the lake with a boat of musicians serenading you in your wake. You will leave Hangzhou at peace with yourself and ready to book your return trip!

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