Tucked between Shanghai and Suzhou, a city in southern Jiangsu province, lies Zhouzhuang water town, quiet and picturesque hamlet 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.
ZhouZhuang water town is more like a mini village packed with many oriental shops, cafes and restaurants serving nice food and Chinese tea located about two hours drive from Shanghai in Jiangsu province and it is considered one of the best Chinese water towns. This ancient town has centuries of history with many houses built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
What to see in Zhouzhuang water town
Twin Bridges (Shuang Qiao), Shide Bridge and Yong’an Bridge. Built between 1573 and 1619 during 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 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.
These are some of the buildings you can visit during your day in the village. There are also many wonderful shops where you can easily spend half a day browsing the shops and finally choose one of the numerous cafes and restaurants to relax and refresh. It is well worth the traveling time as you will have a very relaxing walk around the town taking photos and exploring the various shops selling all varieties of Chinese-made souvenirs.
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 go to Zhouzhuang Water Town from Shanghai
1. Take the metro Line 1 Red and Line 4 Purple to Shanghai Indoor Stadium, look for General Station of the Shanghai Tour Bus Center. They usually depart for Zhouzhuang water town in the morning. 150 RMB Zhouzhuang water town admission fee included, Senior Citizens, are entitled to discount for the entrance fee in Zhouzhuang
2. Take a bus from Shanghai Long-Distance General Bus Station or Shanghai Hongqiao Long-Distance Bus Station. Buses start departing from 7 am.
How to get to Zhouzhuang Water Town from Suzhou
From the Wuzhong Bus Passenger Station
Northern Bus Passenger Terminal
Suzhou North Railway Station
Note: 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.
When is the best time to visit ZhouZhuang water town
The best time to visit ZhouhZhuang is spring and fall. During Chinese holidays many local tourists from other parts of China go to Zhouzhuang which is why you want to make sure NOT to go there. During holidays such as Chinese New Year in February, the streets are jammed with tourists. Try to visit ZhouZhuang during weekdays instead of weekends.
How much time needed to visit ZhouZhuang water town
Consider at least one day for the trip because 5 to 6 hours are for the transportation from the hotel to Zhou Zhuang and back to the hotel and then at least 4 hours strolling around ZhouZhuang Water Town. It’s definitely worth it unless it’s a rainy day or a holiday as it can get pretty crowded.
ZhouZhuang Water Town opening hours
- The town is open all seasons from morning to evening.
- The scenic buildings inside are open from 8 am-4.30 pm except for Zhang House and Shen Houses as they are open all day.
ZhouZhuang Water Town admission fee
Daytime Ticket fee: 100 RMB for entry to the town and visit 15 scenic spots.
Night Ticket: 80 RMB for entry after 4 pm and seeing only two scenic spots (Shen House and Zhang House), free of charge for children below 4.6 feet (mt 1.4).
Note. If you go with the private vehicle, pay the vehicle entrance fee and tell the driver to take you to the main ticket office. Here, buy the ticket for the Village and have the driver drop you in the actual ZhouZhuang water town as it is a bit far from the vehicle entrance and ticket office.