Hong Kong, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou: Seek ancient history, culinary delights and natural beauty in China

West Lake in Hangzhou.


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Pandas, dumplings, shopping, temples, more shopping. What do you think of when you imagine traveling to China? How about intriguing history, majestic natural beauty, and some of the best damn food around? Well, it’s true. The world’s most populous country has everything you could want in a holiday, and so much more. That’s China for you, always overachieving!

Another amazing thing about China is the huge variety of cuisines, languages, and cultures. Each city and region offer something entirely new and different. We’ve set our sights on three places filled with hidden gems: Hong Kong, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou. Each of these bustling cities opens up a world of unique experiences. Best of all, you can Scoot there for as low as IDR1,100,440. Read on and discover three cities in China that will soon top your bucket list.

Hong Kong

The view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak.

This former British colony is now a buzzing hub of activity and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Each block is jam packed with people, businesses, hidden culinary delights, and history waiting to be discovered. No wonder Hong Kong is attracting Instagram’s new breed of influencer, the urban explorer, in droves.

Explore the city for yourself, starting with the markets. Cat Street Market has been around since colonial times, when it sold stolen goods. Now it’s the place to buy vintage items and exotic souvenirs. Tung Choi Street market, better known as Ladies’ Street, has all your modern fashion needs covered. Even if you’re not into lady stuff, it’s a great place to soak up the local vibes.

Victoria Peak, the highest point on the island is also the most visited, but don’t let that stop you. Once you’ve made the trek you’ll understand why it’s a must-see. At 552m, the lookout point provides a stunning view of the iconic skyline. Don’t worry though, the trek is actually a gravity-defying tram ride, and the nature walks are easy and fun.

Other ideas for Hong Kong: a delectable yum cha lunch, cruising the Fragrant Harbour on a traditional Chinese junk, hitting Hong Kong’s lesser known beaches (yes, there are beaches!), and checking out some swanky bars. At night Hong Kong comes alive with a whirlwind of activity. “LKF” aka Lan Kwai Fong is a hot spot for drinking, clubbing, dining, and general debauchery.

There’s never a bad time to experience Hong Kong, except maybe during typhoon season in September. But even with the rains, there’s so many dining options, interesting museums and cool bars to discover that we’re up for Hong Kong any time of the year.

Guangzhou

The Guangzhou Opera House

Just two hours train from Hong Kong is the modern mega-city of Guangzhou. It was once a major terminus of the Silk Road, and it’s still a massive hub for trade. But there’s another side to this city and it’s full of peaceful old neighborhoods and nature escapes.

Guangzhou is a city of fascinating traditions and contradictions. Go from the modern Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid to streets that feel like they’re from a different era. Enning Road is an old tree-lined avenue located in the area of Guangzhou known as “Xiguan”, which means the Western Gate of Old Guangzhou City. Traditional Cantonese architecture in Xiguan dates back to the Qing Dynasty and early Republic Era, when the the buildings were occupied by upper class residents.

We could spend days exploring the old alleys and admiring the architecture of colonial-era shophouses. Nearby Nanhua West Street is a 200 year old lane lined with arcades and shophouses, while Wenming Road has some of the city’s finest snacks.

One of Guangzhou’s most interesting historical sights is the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, discovered in 1983 during construction of a new shopping mall. (Shopping and history in one!) The accidental discovery of the tomb, including the King in a burial suit made of thousands of jade tiles, is one of the most important discoveries in South China.

Leave the streets of Guangzhou behind and immerse yourself in nearby nature at Bai Yun Mountain. This mountain range of 30 forested peaks was a famous scenic destination throughout history. Take a cable car up to the peak and look out over the city below. Bet those ancient tourists would have appreciated a ride to the top!

You can have fun traveling to Guangzhou every month of the year, but most people avoid the typhoon season from July-September. Plan your trip during the dry months of October-December for the best weather or head to Guangzhou for the Dragon Boat Festival in April/May and enjoy the spring breeze.

Hangzhou

Leifeng Pagoda in West Lake, Hangzhou.

Further north, near Shanghai, is the city of Hangzhou. If you’re someone who appreciates the slow life, or if you’re in need of a peaceful escape, look no further. This province is renowned for its natural beauty, which has inspired Chinese poets and artists over the centuries. It’s still not a big tourist destination, though, and its population of 8 million means it’s one of China’s smaller (!) cities.

The city’s best known attraction is West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk or bike along the shore of this freshwater lake in the evening, or explore the many temples, pagodas, gardens and man-made islands. The serene landscape of West Lake has influenced garden design in China, Japan and Korea throughout the centuries.

Explore the beauty of Lingyin Temple in the scenic area near West Lake. The name translates to Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, and what a retreat it is. Lose yourself in the flora and fauna surrounding the ancient pagodas where monks still live and chant peacefully today.

When it comes to food, Hangzhou doesn’t disappoint, but it might surprise. Don’t expect the typical dumplings and noodles here. Hangzhou has a unique cuisine, including specialities like dongpo rou, big chunks of pork belly braised in a wine sauce, and cuyu, whole fish glazed in a sweet vinegar sauce.

Longjing, a tea local to Hangzhou, is the most famous green tea in the entire country, if not the world. The tea leaves are pan roasted by hand, giving it a delicate, balanced flavor. There’s a famous festival to celebrate the famous green tea every spring.

Most people travel to Hangzhou in June-November when the weather is warm and there’s little chance of rain. Dec-Feb is also a great time to enjoy the city; the weather is cool and crisp, and there might even be some snow.

Inspired to witness the beauty of China in person? Check these three cities off your bucket list and Scoot from Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya or Palembang to Hong Kong, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou for as little as IDR1,100,440. Click here to reserve your seats on the the Best Low Cost Airline (Asia/Pacific), as rated by AirlineRating.com four years in a row.

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