Between Shanghai and Suzhou, city in southern Jiangsu province, lies Zhouzhuang, quiet and picturesque water town locals like to call the Venice of Asia. Clean and well preserved, this small Chinese town is the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of nearby Shanghai. Its beautiful views and postcard-like corners make it a popular destination for both tourists and locals.
Even though not very big, Zhouzhuang holds a wealth of fascinating landmarks to visit. This is one of the reasons why you should devote at least a full day to this interesting water village. Do you need any more reason? You get away for a day from the pollution and hectic life of bigger cities, you can relax, see a more traditional China and visit historical places.
Even though many residents understand and speak English enough to communicate with you and give you information, you might want to carry with you a handy Mandarin Chinese Phrase Book and a map.
What to see in Zhouzhuang water town
Twin Bridges (Shuang Qiao), Shide Bridge and Yong’an Bridge. Built in 1573–1619 of the Ming Dynasty, they are the most famous spots and are considered the symbol of this water village.
Chengxu Temple. This is a masterpiece of Taoist architecture and comprises of an area of almost 1,500 square meters.
Shen House. Built in 1742, this was the house of Jiangnan richest man, Shen Wansan, of the early Ming Dynasty. Cross its gates and visit the halls, tea room and Xiaotang Tower.
Zhang House. Dating back to the 15th century, the big Zhang House was built during the Zhengtong period of the Ming Dynasty by the Xu family and later bought by the Zhang family.
Fu’an Bridge. A perfect combination of the bridge and its towers, Fu’an was built in 1355 and rebuilt over time. The towers host tea houses and restaurants from where you can enjoy a lovely view of the town and its canals.
Foods to spoil yourself with
Inside the Zhouzhuang water village, you can get good food, both Chinese and Western. I recommend you try Wansan Pork Shank, the most famous local food of the area named after the richest man in the early Ming Dynasty in Jiangnan. San Wei Yuan is another local food and is commonly called soup gluten. In the area of Jiangnan, rice balls are also a delicious popular dish.
How to get to Zhouzhuang from Shanghai
It is around two hours bus ride from Shanghai to Zhouzhuang and the buses leave from different places in Shanghai. Based on where in Shanghai you are, you can decide to either take the bus from Shanghai Stadium where the Zhouzhuang buses leave in the morning and come back in the afternoon or you can decide to take the train or rent a taxi.
Please note: You need an entrance ticket for Zhouzhuang water town and the fee is 100 yuan per person for one day. Without the ticket, you can’t enter the area. There is an organized boat ride down the narrow canal for about 40 yuan per person, or 100 yuan for a boat, which can be used by one to six people. The boat ride lasts around 30 minutes.
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