We don't have an extensive subway system here in Hangzhou at the moment. Right now we only have 3 lines that mainly serve residential areas (it doesn't even go to the airport right now). However, most of the interesting sites in Hangzhou is around the West Lake area, which is very compact and very walkable.
Here's are in my opinion the best ways to get around Hangzhou for tourists, ranked from best to worst:
- Walking (best): most of the interesting things for tourists in Hangzhou are around the West Lake area. You can walk around the entire lake in 3-4 hours. Actually most tourists do walk around the lake area as there are many many attractions all around the lake it's not practical to hop on and off taxis.
- Biking: biking is very popular in Hangzhou, many streets have bike lanes. Hangzhou is bikable all year round even in the winter. There are two popular options for bike rental:
- 1. Mobike or Ofo (I recommend this): two privately run, GPS-based bike rental apps available everywhere in China. All you need to use them is to download their app, set up an account with a credit card linked. Their apps can tell you where the nearest bike is on a map, and to rent them you just have to scan the QR code. Because it's GPS enabled you can drop these bikes off anywhere. Orange bikes are Mobike and yellow ones are Ofo (I prefer Mobike because their bikes are better quality)
- Pros: extremely convenient to use with simple smartphone app, available 24 hours
- Cons: require your cellphone to have internet connection (get a SIM card) and they cost more
- 2. The cheaper, public, non-GPS bike sharing option run by the city. There are almost 3000 docks in Hangzhou and in the West Lake area you'll see the docks for these bikes every few hundred meters. These bikes are all red, and they're all in docks unlike Mobike/Ofo
- Pros: extremely cheap, first hour is free, 24-hour availability.
- Cons: you need to get a smart card, which can be a cumbersome process
- To use these bikes you just need to find one of the their manned docks by West Lake and get a smart card that costs 300RMB (200RMB deposit + 100RMB value). After you get the card, you can tap the card to unlock a bike. You will need your passport to get the smart card
- The first hour is free, and after that each hour is only a few RMB so it's very cheap.
- To return the bike you just put the bike back into the dock, then tap your smart card again until it beeps and flashes green.
- To get the 200RMB deposit back you need to find another manned dock. I'm not sure about the hours but it's basically the usual business hours
- If you can't find a manned dock, you can always get a smart card from the Transportation Card Service Center, more details on this center at the very bottom
- Taxi: Hangzhou is small enough that it won't cost you a fortune to use taxis to get around. There are taxis in all major tourist sites and transportation hubs. From the airport the taxi will cost only 100-130 RMB. Within the city most rides will cost less than 40-50RMB. Payment is by cash or smart card (see info on the smart card service center below)
- Bus: because our subway system is not very developed, buses remain the most common mode of public transportation. I use it a lot but I don't really recommend this option for tourists. The routes are confusing and there's no English app to help you find out how to get to where you need to go. If you really want to take buses I recommend getting a smart card (see info on the smart card service center below)
- Subway: the only time you might want to use the subway is to and from the train stations. The main train station is on line 1 and is very close to the West Lake/downtown area. The East Railway Station farther out and is on both line 1 and 4.
Transportation Card Service Center
- Address: 25 Ding'an Road (定安路25号)
- GPS coordinates on Google Maps: 30.244271, 120.166293
- Location: Google Maps link
- Hours: 8am to 6pm
- Service provided:
- This service center is for all things related to smart cards in Hangzhou. There are so many smart cards in Hangzhou it's a confusing mess. At least 5 types of transportation cards are used, called: A Card, B Card, C Card, D Card, T Card, and Z Card. Aside from that there's also smart identity cards like Multifunction Card, Citizen Card
- For tourists, T, Z, or D Cards are your best options. T card is for all modes of transportation (bus, subway, bike, taxi, parking, water bus), Z card is for everything except subway. D card is only for buses. They all require a 200 RMB deposit, plus 100 RMB value when you get it. You can get the 200 RMB deposit back when you return the card, minus a 25 RMB processing fee. This may have changed though, but it's not far off even if it's changed