In a nutshell
Wenzhou is a stunning location owing to its magnificent green hills, tropical islands and huge meandering rivers. Between the three natural scenic areas it offers, there are plenty cultural attractions to satisfy the history buffs. Flying under the radar in comparison to Hangzhou and Ningbo means that the attractions are less crowded, so the overall experience is enhanced.
Why go to Wenzhou?
If you’re looking for a different place that isn’t swarming with tourists, Wenzhou is for you. The city is home to only a small foreigner presence (you’re unlikely to see any), so what you get is a very genuine Chinese experience.
If you can’t live without Western food every day or English-speaking receptionists, it’s not the place for you.
If you want to enjoy China’s beautiful natural heritage at a slow, relaxing pace then it definitely is for you! We recommend going to Yangdang Mountain-it’s one of Wenzhou’s top tourist attractions. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful, there are also a number of cultural sights to be seen here, like Lingyan Temple. Another day trip we recommend is to Jiangxinyu Island.
It’s not all mountains and temples – Wenzhou has an awesome food scene, with freshly prepared seafood available at every corner. A visit to Wenzhou just wouldn’t be complete without tasting it’s famous “Double Taste Crabs” from the famous Wuma Meishilin restaurant. Grab a potato stick from Wenzhou’s famous “potato men”- you’ll find their stalls on the street- Nantang is the best one for street food with a view.
When to go to Wenzhou
Wenzhou has fairly cold winters, and hot summers- it’s generally a humid sub-tropical climate. The warmest month is July. We suggest visiting during spring (beginning in March) or autumn. Be advised that monsoons do occur in late spring and early summer.
Where to stay in Wenzhou
If you’re there on a budget, there are loads of affordable backpacker options, and cheap youth hostels. These usually offer free WIFI, but you’ll be in a shared room. Shared rooms will cost upwards of 50 RMB. These hostels often offer an upgrade option for a slightly higher price- you’ll get a private room and bathroom. We loved Yandangshan Youth Hostel- it’s in a marvellous setting, right next to Yandangshan Mountain.
There are also many 3-4 star hotels that are quite cheap! Many offer a similar sort of service and facilities, so try find one that’s in a good location (downtown or near a good tourist attraction). A luxury four-star hotel may only cost you around 400 RMB a night. They’ll usually offer an airport pickup, good restaurants (choose between Western or Chinese), and gyms.
The Wenzhou Shangri La is affordable, and their services are excellent! It’s also in a great location, right in the centre with great mountain and river views.
Where and what to eat in Wenzhou
Generally the best, and cheapest places to eat are the smaller corner stores. You’ll get a delicious bowl of noodles for around 10 RMB. They use local ingredients, and the dishes are expertly prepared. Look out for the restaurants health rating- it should be prominently displayed. “A” is the highest rating, “C” is the lowest, if you don’t see a rating anywhere we recommend you try next door.
There’s an emphasis on seafood in the coastal city, and there are some great local specialities. San Si Qiao Yu is a delicious fish and chicken dish that comes highly recommended.
If you’re looking for some tasty street food, walk down Nantang street. Go at night for the vibe- meat on smoky barbeques, plastic chairs and tables and some great local beer.
If Chinese food isn’t your thing, there are a variety of western style restaurants. Go to Losfick for some fine Italian cuisine.
How to get around Wenzhou
The most convenient way is by taxi. You can choose to flag down one of the marked taxis, or you can download the DiDi app (it’s like China’s Uber). The public taxis begin at 11 RMB, and you’ll pay 2.5 RMB for every kilometre after 3.5 km.
There are plenty of public taxis, so you’ll never wait for too long. Be warned that some of them can drive quite recklessly, if this is an issue rather use the DiDi drivers who are more responsible.
A cheaper option is by bus. The BRT in Wenzhou is well developed, and the lines will take you to most places. They only cost 2 RMB, no matter how far you’re going and they’ll have air conditioning.
Another option is by public bicycle- these can be found on most street corners. Look out for the orange bikes- they’re a great environmentally friendly way to get around. They’re also cheap, around 2 RMB for half an hour.
How to get to and from Wenzhou
If you’re coming in from abroad, it’s likely you’ll be on a plane. You’ll land at Wenzhou Longwan International Airport, which is about 22 km from the downtown area. The routes offered by the airport will take you to over 100 destinations.
Although labelled as an “International” airport, the flights only come in from nearby countries like Hong Kong and Bangkok. There are many domestic flights, and you’ll probably be connecting from a bigger Chinese city like Beijing or Hong Kong. From Hong Kong, a flight is just 2 hours long, and will cost you around 1000 RMB.
There are a number of airport shuttle busses running to various areas in the city, the city centre, and the train station.
If you’re already in China, we recommend taking the high-speed train. It’s fast, safe and convenient.
Wenzhou has two train stations- Wenzhou Railway station only has the “old” trains i.e. no bullet trains. They’re slow and quite uncomfortable, so we don’t suggest them. If you’re feeling adventurous, they are cheaper and from Wenzhou you can go to places like Beijing, Shanghai or Nanjing.
At Wenzhou South Station, you’ll find the bullet trains (they travel at over 300 km/h!). These trains can take you to most cities in China at an affordable price. From Wenzhou, you can go to Hangzhou in about 2 hours costing from 138 RMB for second class. Be aware that for longer trips it’s always faster to fly, so don’t try get a train to Beijing because it’ll take over 9 hours. There are 3 levels of seating: go business class for spacious luxury, and first and second for less space, although you’ll still be comfortable. If you’re really trying to save money, you can also stand.
Wenzhou has four coach stations with long-distance buses to various cities in China. You can go to nearby towns like Yueqing and Wencheng, and other cities like Xiamen, Ningbo, Shanghai and Hangzhou. Bus tickets are generally cheap- you’ll pay about 50 RMB for a two-hour trip.
Getting a taxi from another city will be very expensive, and the driver may be reluctant to leave the city limits. Choose this if you aren’t afraid to pay, or it’s too late for trains.
Is Wenzhou safe?
Yes. There is very little crime in China, and Wenzhou is well developed. If there’s an issue, find a police station (there will often be an English-speaking officer). Wenzhou has huge hospitals that will take good care of you. Avoid smaller practices- they won’t speak English and may give you traditional Chinese medicine. Your biggest threats are dodgy taxi drivers and monsoons over the rainy season.