The Water Towns

The Water Towns

Not far from its bustling centre, Shanghai’s suburbs are dotted with tranquil water towns. Set along the canals that were once used to carry good all over imperial China, they offer an idyllic and tranquil break from the commotion of the city. Whilst there are many water towns to choose from, we would particularly recommend; Zhujiajiao, Wuzhen and Tongli. 

Zhujiajiao is just 30 kilometres from the centre. Built during the Ming Dynasty, a visit to the town is little a step back in time, full as it is with old world charm, red lanterns and drifting wooden boats. Wuzhen is a much smaller water town, dating back to the Tang Dynasty. As a gateway to the Grand Canal, which stretches from Hangzhou to Beijing, Wuzhen was a vital part of the canal network. Tongli, just 18 kilometres south of the city of Suzhou, has existed since the 9th century and is considered one of the most beautiful and authentic of them all. The canalside atmosphere is particularly infectious and there are plenty of sights, including the Retreat and Reflection Garden, Loxing Zhou Lake and the Pearl Tower. 

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Six Facts About The Water Towns

Zhujiajiao has 36 old bridges crossing its waterways whilst Tongli has 40!

Wuzhen was the home of Mao Dun, one of China’s literary greats

Tongli is often used as a set to shoot historical scenes in Chinese films

Wuzhen has a number of fascinating museums, including the Foot-binding Museum and the Hundred Beds Museum (displays of Qing and Ming dynasty beds)

Tongli is surrounded by five lakes – fishermen here still fish using the ancient technique of cormorant fishing

Zhujiajiao is known for its cuisine, which features traditional ingredients such as green soy beans, zarou and lotus root

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