China's Ancient Water Towns 101
Known as the "Venice of The East", Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou are surrounded by rivers, lakes and canals. Therefore, you'll find many ancient water towns around the cities. We divide them into several categories, check this out!
The most famous water towns
Located near Suzhou (1 hour drive), Zhouzhuang is the most famous and crowded water town. Compared to other water towns, Zhouzhuang is bigger and offer a lot more to see.
If you are looking for an art deco and classic Chinese water town photography, Tongli is your answer. Preserving more than 1,000 years of history, Tongli is one of the most recommended water towns, or should we say, the most beautiful water town. At night, you can feel the different atmosphere of Tongli when the lanterns are lit up. It is located 35 minutes drive away from Suzhou.
Another infamous water town boasting more than 6,000 years of history, Wuzhen is Shanghai people's favorite weekend getaway. As it's located relatively far from Shanghai and Suzhou (1 hour bullet train ride), travelers usually spend 1 night to enjoy the night scenery at Wuzhen.
Tom Cruise was there to shoot Mission Impossible!
Xitang is located quite a distance from Shanghai and Suzhou. It's less crowded compared to other water towns and it has its own unique points that invite traveler to come.
Foodie (and public transport) friendly
Shanghai just finished its Metro Line 16 construction and it takes you straight to Zhujiajiao Water Town (1 hour ride). Zhujiajiao has several beautiful boutique hotels , so you can plan a 2 days getaway there. Warm tips: embrace the crowd.
Even nearer, it takes only 30-40 minutes metro rides from Shanghai city center. Qibao water town is surrounded by several shopping malls and located near Shanghai's Korean Town. Compared to other water towns, Qibao is the smallest water town. Warm tips: embrace the crowd
Less known but pretty!
Influenced by its history, Nanxun is a pretty ancient Chinese water town with a bit of Western twist. Located 1 hour drive from Suzhou, if you are looking for a hidden gem, Nanxun will be your answer!
Last but not least, Mudu water town is a unique place to visit. Compared to other water towns that boast about their long lanes and canals, Mudu boasts about its beautiful gardens. You don't need to pay for the entrance fee and it only needs 40 minutes drive away from Suzhou downtown.