View from the Top
Famed for its breathtaking natural beauty, Fuzhou is home to pagodas, historical lanes and heavenly handicrafts.
A symbol of the culture and history of the capital city, Three Lanes and Seven Alleys showcases cultural achievements with a plethora of folk art and traditional shops.
The capital of Fujian Province, Fuzhou is also known as ‘Rong Cheng’, which means the city of Banyan, a nod to its location at the foot of mountains overlooking the sea. Perched on the Min River, the old port city is surrounded by waterfalls in the hinterlands and sandy beaches in coastal areas. Famously visited by Marco Polo in the 13th century, the city enjoys a pleasant climate year round and an abundance of evergreen trees.
For a fantastic view of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Shangri-La Hotel, Fuzhou, the first luxury hotel in the area, offers unrivalled panoramas from its beautifully appointed garden view rooms. A sight to behold in the evening, appearing like dazzling gems against the night sky, the White Pagoda (bai ta) and Black Pagoda (wu ta) are must-sees.
Situated on the western slope of Yu Mountain, the 41-metre-high White Pagoda was originally named Ding Guang Ta, meaning the Pagoda of Eternal Brightness, and features seven octagonal tiers. The formal name of the 31-metre Black Pagoda, which stands on the southern slope of the Black Mountain, was Chong Miao Bao Sheng Jian Lao Ta. This translates as ‘the Pagoda of Wisdom, Sacredness and Solidity’. Both pagodas offer a bird’s eye view of Fuzhou City and are a spectacular sight when illuminated at night.
Passage to the Past
Another key attraction is the famous ancient block, Three Lanes and Seven Alleys, which provides valuable insight into Fuzhou’s rich history. A veritable museum of Ming and Qing Dynasty buildings, each lane and alley was named according to its unique history and story. The area was home to several celebrated historical figures, including national hero Lin Zexu, a Qing official who banned opium trading in Guangzhou in 1840.
A symbol of the culture and history of the capital city, Three Lanes and Seven Alleys showcases cultural achievements with a plethora of folk art and traditional shops. These ancient houses are the best place to find local handicrafts, including lacquerware, Shoushan stone carvings and cork paintings. One of the best ways to experience the soul of Fuzhou is through the local Minju opera that can be heard throughout the area.
Aside from taking in the exquisite sights, there is ample opportunity for a bit of R&R. Fuzhou is one of the three major hot spring areas in China, and is known for its pure quality water. The local government has emphasised this unique feature with an increasing number of leisure centres around town. But for a real treat, the Health Club at Shangri-La Hotel, Fuzhou offers decadent aromatherapy massages with all the luxury amenities of Jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms.
The hotel also has a number of restaurants, but for those keen on trying local delicacies, the award-winning Summer Palace is considered one of Fuzhou’s best. With a focus on home-grown produce, the extensive menu offers both Cantonese and Min cuisines. One of the eight major Chinese cuisines, the latter is known for its delicate ingredients, vivid colours and balanced flavours.
To experience the authentic cuisine of Fuzhou in town, nothing beats the canteen-style Dadao Gourmet City food court. This bright and noisy food mecca features a host of stalls offering famous dishes, like braised clam and chicken soup, sliced whelk in wine, lychee pork, fish balls and dried pork floss. Best of all, you can watch your dish being prepared before your eyes. Complete the gastronomic adventure with a visit to one of the many teahouses in which jasmine and local wu long are the specialities. It’s a great opportunity to people watch and experience the city at its most relaxed.