China's best public bike system – While the rest of the country is moving from two wheels to four, cycling culture is thriving in Hangzhou. The city has the world's biggest public bike system, offering more than 84,000 bicycles for rent.
West Lake – A stroll along the 12,000-acre West Lake in Hangzhou city center is all it takes to understand why the city is called "paradise on earth."
Mountain getaways – About 40 kilometers away from the city center, Qiandai Resort sits on Jing Mountain. The low-profile resort doesn't have a website, though it does have a WeChat account (China's version of Whatsapp/Facebook).
Zen – Surrounded by lush trees, Lingyin Temple is a pocket of calm a short ride from the city center. It's one of the country's oldest and most important Buddhist monasteries.
Longjing tea – Hangzhou is home to some of China's finest -- and priciest -- tea leaves. The village of Longjing is where tea leaves were grown for China's ancient emperor. Tea-picking season is usually around late March to April, when travelers from across the country visit the village for quality tea leaves.
Hangzhou cuisine – Unlike dishes from northern China, heavy in sauces and spices, Hangzhou cuisine -- also known as Hangbang cai -- is mild but flavorful with a focus on fresh ingredients. Longjing shrimp is Hangzhou's signature dish.
Alibaba – Nicknamed China's Silicon Valley, Hangzhou is home to Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of Alibaba Group and the second-richest man in China. Alibaba, the world's leading e-commerce group, has transformed Ma's hometown into a high-tech metropolis.
China Art Academy – Hangzhou's China Art Academy has seen some of the country's most celebrated Chinese artists pass through its halls. The head of its architecture school, Wang Shu, brought home China's first Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2012.
Fans – It's said that tea, silk and hand fans are Hangzhou's three unparalleled gifts. The most iconic fans are by Wang Xing Ji. Established in 1875, this time-honored brand has charmed tourists and locals alike with its intricately designed fans.