Hangzhou has long been a famous tourist attraction. The widely expressed Chinese proverb, "in heaven there is paradise and on earth there are Hangzhou and Suzhou" combined with the words of Marco Polo who described this place as, "the most beautiful and magnificent city in the world" have helped to make Hangzhou one of the biggest tourist attractions in the entire country.
The "West Lake" provides the idyllic image of Hangzhou that most people leave with. This huge circular fresh water lake, covering 3km from north to south and 3kms from east to west, is surrounded by hills on three sides and the city on the fourth. Two picture- postcard causeways cross the lake and three islands float in the middle. There are numerous historical relics and sights scattered about the Lake, including the famous Buddhist temple, Lingyin Temple. You can see many of Hangzhou's sights in a couple of days. However, this is a nice place to relax and do some good walking and eating so if possible, plan to spend at least a few days here.
In terms of beauty, Hangzhou is picturesque all year round. In spring and summer, the trees turn green and the air is sweet. In winter, the snow falls on the lake creating a picture- postcard atmosphere about the city and in autumn, the temperature is pleasant and balmy and the sky a delightful color of amber.