The 900-year-old water town of Zhouzhuang, the oldest water township in China and one of the most famous, comprises a network of scenic canals, 14 stone bridges, and well-preserved buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The late Chinese painter Chen Yifei immortalized the village in his paintings.
The town of Zhouzhuang ranks among the most popular day-trip destinations from Shanghai. These tours typically include a Chinese-style gondola ride through the canals, a walk across the town’s famous Double Bridge, and visits to a few of the town’s historic residences. Many day trips also include a stop in nearby Suzhou to explore some of its UNESCO World Heritage–listed gardens and tour a silk-spinning factory. For those visiting independently, the town itself charges a modest admission fee, but this includes entrance to all attractions; organized boat rides cost extra.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A visit to Zhouzhuang is a must for couples, history buffs, and photographers.
- Most day trips to Zhouzhuang include hotel pickup and drop-off.
- Guided tours to Zhouzhuang from Shanghai can last anywhere from six to 10 hours, depending on the option chosen.
- How to Get There
- Zhouzhuang is located about 90 minutes by car from the urban sprawl of Shanghai and not far from Suzhou. The easiest way to get there is by joining a guided tour, but it’s also possible to catch a bus from any of Shanghai’s long-distance bus stations.
When to Get There
While the town itself is always open, its scenic spots and attractions are typically open from 8am to 4:30pm. Plan to arrive early, stay late, or spend the night to take in the atmosphere without the crowds of day-trippers. Avoid visiting on Chinese public holidays or summer weekends.
Wansan’s Pig Shank
If you have time for lunch in Zhouzhuang, consider sampling the local specialty, Wansan’s pig shank (also called Wansan’s elbow or Wansan’s hoof). A Ming dynasty dish commonly served while entertaining guests, Wansan’s pig shank is made by braising a pork hock for several hours.