Sixteen scenic spots across Zhejiang Province have been upgraded into four-A destinations, and two places were added as new provincial resorts, the Zhejiang Tourism Bureau has announced.
The number of As indicates the level of fame, infrastructure and other positives. Five As are the tourist destination equivalent of a five-star hotel.
Shanghai Daily takes a look at the new list and discovers the range has broadened to include theme parks and agricultural tourist spots.
March is a good time for a self-drive tour, offering a glimpse into rural life, a breath of fresh air and many other activities.
Fotang Town 佛堂镇
The town is in Yiwu City, noteworthy for trade in small commodities and its vibrant market. Fotang means "Buddha's mansion" in Chinese. Throughout dynasties, the town was the mecca for Buddhists thanks to its temples.
The Shuanglin Temple witnessed its glory days in ancient times. Dating back 1,500 years, the temple was famous across the country for its scale and majesty. Its heyday was in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), when it had more than 1,200 rooms for nearly 2,000 monks.
Its magnificence and status lured monks from Japan. But the temple went through a period of change and turbulence and was utterly ruined in the 1960s. Only three pagodas on the nearby hilltop were preserved.
In the 1990s, the local government restored it to its original design. The ancient foundations, tiles and centuries-old pines were preserved.
Records show Fotang was a prosperous port thanks to booming trade and river transportation. The town was dotted with outlets selling local products, drawing traders from all over the country and making it one of the "four Zhejiang towns" in olden times.
Old buildings featuring up-turned eaves, engraved windows, sculptured rafters and beams have been conserved. The well-preserved folk houses are considered museums of traditional stone and wooden sculpture.