Just came back from Hangzhou. Maybe it's recency bias or something... but I really think Hangzhou is UNDERRATED as a family vacation place.
It's feels much less crowded than Shanghai and you'd be surprised, there is a lot of mannerism emphasis there. This "be gracious" sign below was found at a centralised rubbish area near my B&B at Long Jing.
I chose to compare Hangzhou to Hokkaido simply because both start with "H"... haha... and also Hokkaido is undoubtedly a popular (though costly) family holiday destination.
Difference in experience between Hangzhou and Hokkaido
Of course, Hokkaido is a huge island with cities like Sapporo and Hakodate ... while Hangzhou's just one city. Temperature and city development seems similar but other than that, it's different... I get it.
Most actually do the Hangzhou + Shanghai + Suzhou combination for a china tour.
But if you're also with a young kid, it's not easy to travel between cities. There's a lot of "adaption tantrum" and "fatigue tantrum" to deal with from the little one.
Hangzhou and Hokkaido give very different experiences in culture.
Hangzhou xihu (杭州西湖) is very attractive. Think it's a unesco site or something also and it's the place Jack Ma self-learnt his english by being street smart (story I told my boy).
Also Hangzhou Hema Xiansheng (盒马鲜生), the Alibaba-owned online-to-offline supermarket is an unparalleled shopping and dining experience. There's mobile payment and fishing-of-your-own seafood.
On the other hand, Japanese culture is always admirable and Hokkaido has very nice winter offers. There's the added benefit of feeling safer in Japan (at least IMO).
In addition, Mt. Moiwa in Sapporo has a top three new BEST night city view of Japan.
Ok, back to the point, here's three points why it's much cheaper to travel to Hangzhou.
1) Direct flight tickets are MUCH cheaper to Hangzhou!
I flew to Hokkaido via Shanghai (China Eastern Airline) a few years back. It was about $700/pax then.
From rough checks, there is only one direct flight to Sapporo which may be SQ. That will be more than $1,000/pax.
You can fly to Hangzhou with a direct flight with Scoot. One timing only but it's still direct! No one wants to fly 10hours with a young kid....
Price for return is ONLY around $400/pax.
Family trips are getting expensive now. With my boy at 5yo, plane tickets are x3 (instead of x2)
That works out to be savings of at least $900 for a family of 3.
If you've more kids, you've done your $1,000 savings already.
2) Hotels and food is cheaper
With my boy now too big for a baby cot, an extra hotel bed need to be purchased!
For Hangzhou, other than the Hangzhou xihu (杭州西湖) zone, hotel prices are less than $200/night quite easily for a comfortable and big room with an extra bed in.
As far as I know, hotel prices any where in Japan is always expensive. And the rooms are always so small.
My gut feeling is the total hotel cost would be at least $200 less for 4 or 5 nights stay in Hangzhou than in Hokkaido.
As for food, restaurant prices are not expensive vs Japanese standards or SG standards.
AND getting recommendations in Chinese is easy. If you're new to china travelling, check out 大众点评.
Chinese internet companies are crazy innovative and this one app can really help you in all your dining queries.
Would be sharing with you in the post above on policy wordings from AVIVA Travel insurance, Liberty Tourcare Plus, Tm XPlora and AXA Travel.
3) Commuting around Hangzhou with Didi Chuxing is cheap
We rented a car from Sapporo and drove a loop around Hokkaido. The car rental cost was pretty expensive per day.
In Hangzhou (and possibly many major cities in China), Didi Chuxing 滴滴 can help you get to places cheaply.
From airport to hotel, it's about SGD20 but between places in Hangzhou, it was a few dollars in SGD only.
If you are keen to find out more on chinese payments like Alipay Tour Pass, watch video below.
Recommendations for 5D4N trip to Hangzhou
Actually, it's more a 4d4n because the direct flight by Scoot from SG reaches Hangzhou at 11pm only.
We deviated quite far from our original Hangzhou itinerary but I'd leave recommendation points here instead.
The Zhejiang Science and Technology museum is really interesting for young kids. The science and space information is more than what you can find in Singapore. It also has dinosaur stuff. Deserves a day there!
Long Jin Tea Plantation is beautiful and worth half a day there too. I'd be doing a video to share on "Millionaire Kids' Facebook group.
For lodging, choose Sofitel Hangzhou westlake if you want location. It's walking distance to Hangzhou xihu (杭州西湖) and there is a Hema Xiansheng (盒马鲜生) nearby.
Alternatively, choose The East Hotel Hangzhou if you want great value for money. This hotel is undoubtedly our favourite of the trip. The room had "SUPER WINGS" decoration for my boy!
Hope the itinerary sharing helped and if you have questions to ask, do contact me.
Choose Hangzhou over Hokkaido and save $1,000 on your next family trip!
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