The cities and regions around the Hangzhou Gulf have abundant tourism opportunities. Eat fresh seafood in the Zhoushan Archipelago, pick juicy waxberries in Cixi and Yuyao city and visit ancient towns in Jiaxing and Cixi.
Visiting all the sites in one shot used to be difficult. When the Hangzhou Bay Bridge opens to traffic next month, the situation will change. It will only take two hours to go from Jiaxing to Cixi, Zhejiang Province, two cities located at the north and south sides of the gulf. There is no need to take a detour through other cities to cross from the gulf’s north to its south side
Hangzhou Bay Bridge
Hangzhou Bay Bridge crosses the Hangzhou Bay to connect Jiaxing and Cixi. The 36-kilometer long sea bridge is the world’s longest, and is the second longest bridge in the world after the Lake Pontchartrain auseway in the US.
The bridge helps shorten the distance between Ningbo city, Zhejiang, and Shanghai city by 120 kilometers. It releases the traffic pressure on Huhangyong Expressway, which is the only highway connecting Shanghai and Zhejiang Province.
South end: Cixi
Cixi has existed since Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BCE). Porcelain, reclaimed land and an immigrant history are its three main features.
The waxberry gardens in Cixi are a nice sight in early June. You can pick juicy waxberries and tour scenic spots. Every June, Cixi holds a waxberry festival. Dashan waxberry garden, Qiaotou biological waxberry garden and the other six waxberry gardens usually participate.
The Yue kiln remains is one of the birthplaces of Chinese porcelain. It was also the center of porcelain production in the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties. There is a group of protective kiln remains that covers 30 square kilometers.
Among these remains, 11 are from the Eastern Han (25-220) and Three Kingdoms (208-280) periods; nine are from the Dongjin (317-420) and Nanchao (420-589) dynasties; 173 are from the Tang and Song dynasties. The Yue kiln is the most famous porcelain kiln site from ancient times, and Shanglin Lake is its birthplace. In ancient times, Yue porcelain was not only for Chinese officials and normal residents, but was also exported to foreign countries.
Today, you can visit the kiln remains in the Shanglin Lake area and see the birthplace of Chinese porcelain.
North end: Jiaxing
Jiaxing is the north end of the Hangzhou Bay Bridge. To its south is South Lake, one of the three famous lakes of Zhejiang Province. To the southwest is Xinan Lake. People call the two lakes the Mandarin Duck Lakes.
South Lake is famous because it was the site of the First Representative Conference of China’s Communist Party. There is a revolution museum along the lake side to record the history.The South Lake region has several spots worth visiting, lake islands, gardens on the lakeshore, an ecological oasis and ancient streets.
The Qiantangjiang River tidal waves in Haining, Jiaxing city, are some of the most spectacular in the world. Every month, you can see the waves come in, in Haining. The best place for viewing the tide is at Haitang Town. Before the tide arrives, the river is quiet and smooth. The tide moves from the east to the west quickly with a huge sound like thousands of galloping horses.
Around: Zhoushan Archipelago
The Zhoushan Archipelago, with its 1,390 islands, is China’s largest island group. It combines oceanic culture and Buddhism. There are more than 1,000 Buddhist temples, montains, beaches and fisheries on the 23 main islands.
Putuo Mountain is one of the four most famous mountains for Buddhism in China. It has three big temples and 88 nunneries with 4,000 monks and nuns.
Zhujiajian Island is famous for its sand. Its nine beaches stretch for 5 kilometers. The sands are exquisite and the beaches are flat and wide. It is a nice place to make sand sculptures.
Peach Flower Island is well known in China for its place in Legend of Condor Heroes (She Diao Yingxiong Zhuan), a wuxia novel by Jin Yong.
Every year, the local tourism department organizes the Zhoushan seafood festival in June. Tourists and locals can sample a diverse array of seafood.
Yuyao is at the south side of the bridge, near Cixi city. It is famous for its waxberries. The waxberry is known for its lovely color, taste and nutritional value. The Yuyao waxberry always ranks first place in the Zhejiang waxberry competition, which has earned it a reputation as China’s “Waxberry City".Linshan Town in Yuyao is famous for grapes. It is also a tide viewing spot on the south bank of Hangzhou bay. The grapes mature in a 667-hectare farm that is open to visitors.
Danshanchishui is located on Shilin Village in the mountainside of Yuyao’s Simingingshan Mountain. It is a scenic zone with natural landscapes and Taoist culture. However, it is most famous for its persimmon. The Persimmon trees bear very soft and sweet fruit in late autumn. Mouhanhu Lake in the west of the city is a source of big, fresh and tasty crabs every autumn. Crab festivals are held every year.
Almost every major city in the south has trains to Cixi, Jiaxing and Yuyao. It is easy to travel between the three cities by train or bus.
Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo have buses to the Zhoushan Archipelago. Beijing and Shanghai have direct flights. Ships are available among the islands.
(Beijing Today April 22, 2008)