The crowds are back in Hangzhou's Wuliu Lane

Wu Huixin
The crowds are back on Hangzhou's famous Wuliu Lane, home to several restaurants, coffee shops and even a barbershop, suggesting good times are back again.
Wu Huixin

The teeming crowd on Wuliu Lane is proof that Hangzhou's tourism industry is back in business in the post-pandemic era.

On weekends, the lane, which is flanked by restaurants, coffee shops, and even a barbershop, is packed with people.

The wanghong (Internet celebrity) barbershop "Red Chili" was packed with people waiting for haircuts at 10am. Some of the regulars at Zhou Qiaohong's barbershop have been getting their hair cut by her for 30 years.

Zhou's business has been in operation since the early 1990s and continues to thrive due to her low prices and exceptional skills. Zhou's customer base has grown in recent years due to social media.

"Many young ladies are coming to me for a popular vintage hairstyle on social media," Zhou said. "Every weekend, business is brisk."

Previously, young people would go to trendy hair salons rather than an out-of-date barbershop. Zhou, on the other hand, has gained popularity among young clients after being introduced on social media.

The crowds are back in Hangzhou's Wuliu Lane

Zhou Qiaohong serves a customer at her traditional barbershop while others wait patiently.

In terms of the appearance of the barbershop, things haven't changed all that much over the last 30 years. When compared to chic barbershops, the shop's aesthetics are still quite basic and traditional.

Aside from Zhou's shop, the centuries-old lane is flanked by hipster-friendly coffee shops and eateries.

"I can't take a break on weekends, especially when it is sunny. I must continue to make coffee and serve people," said Jiang Pan, owner of the Shen Me Gui coffee shop.

Wuliu Lane was named after the Five Willow Imperial Palace of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Despite the fact that the royal building no longer exists, the lane has been preserved and designated as a key protected site in the city.

Wuliu translates to "five willows" in Chinese. The lane runs from Doufu No. 3 Bridge to Daoyuan Lane. Doufu is a Chinese word that means "vying with each other in wealth."

According to legend, three wealthy individuals who liked to flaunt their wealth lived along the river. Each of them constructed a stone bridge in front of their homes to show off their wealth, despite the fact that the distance between the bridges is only about 100 meters.

The crowds are back in Hangzhou's Wuliu Lane

Shen Me Gui coffee shop

The Hangzhou Railway Station was built nearby during the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The lane quickly grew in popularity as a rice and vegetable trading center.

Local authorities launched a plan to protect the lane and nearby houses a few years ago. The wood and brick structures have been preserved, while the buildings have been converted into businesses or residences.

The lane and its old buildings attract shutterbugs and wanghong due to their long history.

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