Although today such grand claims to greatness may be contested by other worthy contenders, Hangzhou truly is a beautiful corner of the world. Stunningly set by the West Lake with its weeping willows, Hangzhou is a favourite subject in many watercolour paintings by Chinese artists - its temples, bridges and causeways make for some incredibly serene, inspiring landscapes.
Hangzhou is very foreigner-friendly, with an ever-growing community of expats calling the city home. The east bank of the West Lake is crowded with eateries and bars frequented by locals and visitors alike; the west side is known as a quieter area where one can explore some of Hangzhou's unspoiled nature. Hangzhou is also known for its rather vibrant music scene - lots of local clubs regularly host live music shows, and music festival season comes twice a year - in spring and autumn.