If you’re looking for a Zen day in Hangzhou, Yoga Summit is one of the prettiest places we’ve ever practised yoga. Set at the top of Wu Hill, the centre is part of the Cheng Huang Temple and Pagoda Scenic Area, a wooded hilltop spot overlooking the city and West Lake. The sunlight-strewn Qing Dynasty-style building could be mistaken for one of the area’s many classical pagodas dotted among the trees.
Though the centre is planning on introducing day-long retreats later in the summer, for now we’d recommend a morning and afternoon class. Hatha, Iyengar and Flow yoga are all taught, with a few exotic choices – like belly dance and digestive therapy – thrown into the mix. Ninety-minute classes are available in both English and Chinese (100RMB/first class, 150RMB/second class, 200RMB thereafter with memberships available), with a schedule that changes weekly – call the centre and ask for Jasmine, who speaks English, to book. The first class is at 10am, the last class is at 6.30pm on weekdays or 4.15pm at weekends.
The view from Cheng Huang Temple
In between, there’s plenty of strolling to be done. The view from the top of Cheng Huang Temple itself (30RMB/entry) is not to be missed, but the experience is really about ambling through the tranquil forest and stumbling across deserted pagodas and groups of old folks playing cards. The Xing Gang vegetarian restaurant, close to Yoga Summit, is a good option for lunch.
For a dinner re-fuel, we love the buzzing Green Tea restaurant (83 Longjing Lu, near Meiling Lu, 0571 8788 8022. Open 11am-10pm daily), a scenic ten-minute cab ride away in Longjing village. Surrounded by water, the always-packed restaurant (be prepared to wait at peak times) feels like a trendy log cabin, and serves hearty homestyle food – think crispy-skinned (fried) baked baby potatoes (15RMB) and their trademark: toasted homemade bread topped with ice cream (28RMB).
Yoga Summit, 3 Wushan, Shangcheng district, Hangzhou (0571 8792 1011/8792 1022; www.yogasummit.com.cn). Open 10am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4.15pm Sat-Sun. 杭州市上城区吴山3号
Hour-long bullet trains to Hangzhou leave the Hongqiao Railway Station around every 30 minutes, costing 82RMB each way (first train 6.32am, last train from Hangzhou 9pm). Yoga Summit is a 12RMB cab from the station. To get a cab from Yoga Summit, simply walk for ten minutes to the bottom of Wu Hill, past the Hangzhou Museum to the tourist market at the bottom – lots are waiting there.