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We are planning a China tour We wanted to stay in Hangzhou ( West Lake ) for two nights and then take the train to Shanghai. However, since we will haves lot of luggage, it may be easier to stay longer in Shanghai and taking a day trip to hangzhou. Does that sound more reasonable?

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    One of the attraction at Hangzhou is the Impression show on the lake and the performance is only at night. If you are already planning on staying in Shanghai after Hangzhou then I would spend at least 1 night there. Taxi are plentiful and can take all your luggage to and from the train station.

    I was there in August and found the traffic around the lake almost unbearable. Hope it's better when you go!

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    Our favorite thing about hangzhou was the fabulous Impressions show. You must stay at least one night. Be sure to stay at a hotel near the lake as taxis are almost impossible to find after the show. We walked about 40 minutes back to our hotel which was on the other side of the lake.

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    I have done Hangzhou as both a day trip from Shanghai and also a dedicated trip and stay for a weekend. Both have their advantages. I personally think Hangzhou deserves more than a day, so would vote for a several day stay if you want work it out.

    The bullet train takes about an hour to get to Hangzhou from Shanghai and there are many trains a day, so it does make it feasible for a day trip. The train is a hoot and an adventure in itself. Drawbacks to a daytrip IMO are as follows:

    1. If you plan to take a taxi from the train station to the lake area, you could have a long wait, esp. on a weekend. This can eat into a day. You can take a bus to the lake, so consider that. While English is limited, the buses use Arabic numbers so you should be able to find your bus with little trouble. You will know when you get to the lake.

    2. The lake is at its best, IMO, very early in the morning when it is not crowded. Sunrise is very peaceful. Otherwise, the lake can be really, really, really packed with bus tours. Again, more so on weekends. (I know from your other posts that your trip may be during the National Day week in October 2013 when Hangzhou would be almost insanely crowded. You would need to book the train ahead of time.) This makes a multi-day stay better as you can time your visits to the lake at non-Peak times. (Late afternoon can also be good when most bus trips are gone as well.)

    3. The tea country just immediately to the west of West Lake is really lovely and offers some great walks, tea houses, etc. Most day trippers would not have time for this.

    4. If you go for the day, bear in mind when the sunset will be. Depending on the time of year you are there, this may make for a shorter day than you would want.

    You can hire bikes at various places and ride around the lake and another areas. This is fun and a good way to see the lake. (Some areas are closed even to bike traffic, but you can get to most areas.)

    The world’s largest or second largest tidal bore can be seen just outside town, I have not had time for this yet. If this sort of thing interests you, against this is another reason to stay longer.

    I agree that with lots of luggage, struggling onto and off the train may not be ideal. Not sure where you are coming from. If you can fly into Hangzhou from wherever you will be , then this eliminates luggage issues on one end. Then you only have to deal with it for one train trip, which is doable.

    Perhaps the best thing to do would be to go to Shanghai and leave major luggage but then take small suitcases and go down to Hangzhou for the 2 nights as planned.

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