Hangzhou is renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty. It is known as one of the most beautiful cities in China, also ranking as one of the most scenic cities. Although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, it still retains its historical and cultural heritage. Today, tourism remains an important factor for Hangzhou's economy. One of Hangzhou's most popular sights is West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The West Lake Cultural Landscape covers an area of 3,323 ha (8,210 acres) and includes some of Hangzhou's most notable historic and scenic places. Adjacent to the lake is a scenic area which includes historical pagodas, cultural sites, as well as the natural beauty of the lake and hills, including Phoenix Mountain. There are two causeways across the lake.
Other places of interest:
- The world's largest tidal bore races up the Qiantang River through Hangzhou reaching up to 12 m (39 ft) in height.
- The Residence of Hu Xueyan (胡雪岩故居) located on Yuanbao Street was built in 1872 by Hu Xueyan, a native of Anhui, a very successful businessman. It was restored and opened to the public in 2001.
- Xixi National Wetland Park. Established with the aim of preserving the wetland ecological system, it covers an area of about 10 km². Fish ponds and reed beds have been restored and it is home to many types of birds. It holds a temple and several historic rural houses.
- Hangzhou Botanical Garden
- Hangzhou Zoo
- Old China Street on He Fang Street (He Fang Jieor"Qing He Fang"，literally "neighbourhood along the river"), which offers various souvenirs and renowned Longjing tea.
- Jade Springs (Yu Quan)
- West Lake Cultural Square is one of the tallest buildings in the city centre (about 160m) and houses the Zhejiang Natural History Museum and Zhejiang Museum of Science and Technology.
- Qiandao Lake is a man-made lake with the largest number of islands in Chun'an County,an administrative area of Hangzhou government. These islands are different in size and shape, and have distinctive scene.
- Grand Canal
- Longjing tea fields, west of the lake, and the source of China's most famous tea.
In March 2013 The Hangzhou Tourism Commission started an online campaign via Facebook, the 'Modern Marco Polo' campaign. Over the next year nearly 26,000 participants applied from around the globe, in the hopes of becoming Hangzhou's first foreign tourism ambassador. In a press conference in Hangzhou on May 20, 2014, Liam Bateswas announced as the successful winner. The 26-year-old won a €40,000 contract and is the first foreigner ever to be appointed by China's government in such an official role.