4:57 PM EDT, March 29, 2013
The best way to Hangzhou, China
FROM LAX, United, China Eastern Airlines and American offer nonstop service to Shanghai, and United China Airlines, Asiana, All Nippon, Korean, Air China, Cathay Pacific and Eva offer connecting service (change of plane). Restricted round-trip airfares begin at $850, including taxes and fees.
Hangzhou is about 100 miles southwest of Shanghai by bullet train from Shanghai's Hongqiao Rail Station. The comfy 40-minute ride costs about $20 round trip depending on the class. Buy tickets on China Train Tickets, http://www.chinatraintickets.net, and have them delivered to your hotel. Hotels can also arrange tickets for a fee. Buses from Shanghai take about three hours.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (international dialing code), 86 (the country code for China) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
The Shangri-La Hotel, Hangzhou, 78 Beishan Road, Hangzhou; 571-8797-7951, http://www.shangri-la.com/hangzhou/shangrila/. A top luxury hotel on West Lake and surrounded by lush hills and trails. It has an array of rooms, restaurants, health clubs and lounges. Doubles from $177 a night.
The Sofitel West Lake, 333 West Lake Ave., Hangzhou; 571-8707-5858. http://www.sofitelhangzhou.com.cn Marble baths, lake views, fine dining with double rooms starting around $157 a night.
The Sunny Hotel, 108 Jiefang Road, Hangzhou; (571) 8721-8899. About a half-mile from West Lake, the Sunny is a lower-cost option. I stayed here and had no complaints. Friendly staff, breakfast buffet with traditional Chinese fare, lounge and complimentary longjing tea. Double rooms start around $64 a night.
WHERE TO EAT
Visiting a teahouse is a must in Hangzhou but which one? I recommend the Hupanju Tea House on West Lake (23 Hubing Road, No. 1 Sheng Tang Scenic Area, Xihu District,  8702-0701). Along with outstanding views, Hupanju offers every sort of luxury tea imaginable, including the famed longjing tea. Price varies but I spent less than $20 for tea, food and two hours of loitering.
Kuiyuan Restaurant, 154 Jiefang Road, serves outstanding noodle dishes. Eel is the house specialty at this century-old restaurant. Dinner cost about $3.
TO LEARN MORE
Go to Hangzhou, http://www.gotohangzhou.com
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