Is China on your bucket list? You may have Shanghai and Beijing at the top, but catch a high-speed train to Hangzhou to discover some authentic experiences like West Lake and the legendary tea village. Here are Roo’s five essentials for getting there:
Trip of Two Lifetimes — China will now issue a 10-year visa to most U.S. passport holders (must have more than one year validity on passport when applying). There’s no additional charge but be sure to check the appropriate box on the application. www.china-embassy.org
Getting There — Delta Air Lines launched non-stop service from Los Angeles to Shanghai (in addition to Detroit and Seattle). Those traveling from New York City can now also redeem SkyMiles on China Eastern for an east coast direct flight. www.delta.com
A Room for All Seasons — For international five-star luxury, The Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake offers serene respite with most rooms overlooking meticulously groomed gardens. Make a grand entrance and arrive by a traditional Chinese wooden rowboat (additional fee). www.fourseasons.com/hangzhou
Must Eat — Hangzhou’s signature dishes include Shusao Chuangzhen (West Lake carp in sweet and sour sauce), and Beggar’s Chicken, a stuffed chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and sealed in clay. Try both at Hupanju Teahouse, which also offers stunning views. 1 Shengtang Scenic Area Xihu District. Tel: 571-8702-0701.
The Inside Scoop — CYTS Tours, one of China’s largest inbound travel companies, can help facilitate personalized experiences in the historical Mei Jia Wu Tea Village, Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society, Xixi National Wetland Park, and more. www.cytstours.com