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Few words are needed to describe just how picturesque Hangzhou is, and out of all the towns and cities I’ve been to in Eastern China, Hangzhou struck me as the prettiest and most romantic. Visiting in the midst of winter made for a more dramatic landscape and even in the absence of blooming fields and magnolia trees, it was surely no less beautiful in December.

I took a slow walk along the West Lake, strolling past sleepy willow trees covered in light frost to see the lake glow and come to life at sunset. The lake, formed gradually from a gulf, marks the end of the Yangtze river down south, where the canals, waterways and lush land give way to the hilly interiors of the Zhejiang province. A view almost too beautiful to take in, take your time here and you’ll be sure to fall in love with Hangzhou too.