Hangzhou, Capital of Zhejiang Province, hit the headlines in 2016 when leaders of the world gathered there for the G20 Summit. But Hangzhou has been attracting tourists from far and wide since long before 2016. In fact, the city is the most popular destination for domestic tourism, and it’s now attracting an increasing number of foreign visitors too. And it’s not hard to see why; the renowned West Lake, vast Longjing Tea Fields and mountainous surroundings are among the most beautiful scenic areas in China.
China’s “Silicon Valley”, a popular nickname for Hangzhou, was chosen to host the G20 Summit as it is fast becoming one of the nation’s most important technology and innovation hubs. Between 2001 and 2016 Hangzhou’s GDP increased from 156 billion to 1.1 trillion yuan, causing many of China’s top graduates and foreign entrepreneurs to flock to the city to work in hi-tech companies or even launch their own start-ups! Hangzhou’s young population, high standard of living and favourable work-life balance add to its appeal.
Hangzhou is the perfect destination for those interested in gaining international work experience either in one of China’s largest companies or an up-and-coming start-up. Among the most famous companies are:
Alibaba Group: Founded by Jack Ma, this tech giant is best known for owning the world’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao. The company is headquartered in Hangzhou and has multiple ‘campuses’, where employees work in modern offices with gyms, recreation areas and landscaped gardens.
Ant Financial: A subsidiary of Alibaba, this company created Alipay, a mobile payment system which has revolutionised the way people make purchases in China.
WeDoctor: A Tencent-owned healthcare technology company that is pioneering long-distance medical consultations, AI-assisted diagnostics and a range of other online medical services.
In an effort to make Hangzhou a new global business centre, the city has opened many hi-tech business and innovation parks designed to provide the perfect environment for big corporations and small start-ups to make it big. These include:
Hi Park: Located in Hangzhou’s futuristic Xiaoshan District, this technology is attracting some of the biggest names in Chinese technology, including IFLYTEK, Micro Medical Group, Actuality China and DATANEW. The zone has its own minibus network, bicycle rental and even its own primary school!
Dream Town: This exciting start-up park aims to create the Alibaba of tomorrow and has already attracted over 600 cutting-edge ventures since 2015 on top of several hundred million dollars of investment.
Hangzhou Blockchain Industrial Park: China is eager to capitalise on one of the hottest technological trends of the decade, which inspired the launch of this incubator zone alongside a $1.6 billion blockchain investment fund.
Hangzhou’s government offers generous subsidies, tax breaks and even property to individual entrepreneurs and companies to choose the city as their base. Many well-known foreign companies have set up bases in Hangzhou, including Hitachi Systems, Nokia, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Citi Group.
West Lake: A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011, this world-famous lake has been immortalized by countless poets and artists. The pagodas, temples, gardens and bridges around the lake are worthy of several days exploration.
Longjing Tea Fields: Lying just south of the West Lake, these fields are perfect for a day trip out of the city centre. Many tea growers allow customers to pick their own tea leaves and can package them into attractive tins perfect for giving as gifts. Alternatively, visitors can rest in a local tea house.
Xixi Wetlands Park: This wild park located in Western Hangzhou offers visitors a quiet respite from the bustling city. Expect to see untouched marshlands and colourful birds.
Escaping the city: Hangzhou is surrounded by tourist sites and other popular towns, including Suzhou (famed for its classical gardens), the Yellow Mountain and the water town of Wuzhen.
Shopping Malls: Hangzhou has countless newly-built malls perfect for a bit of retail therapy. Most have dozens of restaurants in addition to IMAX cinemas and even ice rinks, swimming pools and ball pits.
Hangzhou is famous for Xiaolongbao (small, steamed dumplings), dongpo rou (fatty pork in syrupy sauce) and cuyu (fish in vinegar sauce). Foodies will also be able to find all their other favourite Chinese dishes, including hotpot, Peking duck and shaokao (barbacue). As an increasingly internationalised city, Hangzhou is also home to fantastic international food, so those looking for their pizza or burger fix need not worry!
Want to know more about life in Hangzhou? Download our free city e-book to discover what it's like! Or, if you've already made up your mind, get in touch or apply today to begin your adventure in China's up and coming tech hub!