A Complete Guide to 15 Shanghai Old Towns

Shanghai boasts not only modern a cityscape but also quaint old towns. At the old towns, tourists can see the architecture mainly built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), learn local customs, know more about the history behind these and taste delicious snacks. It’s worth mentioning that several famous ancient towns, Zhouzhuang Water Town for example, are situated nearby Shanghai. Considering the convenient public transportation, they’re also counted in the following 15 Shanghai old towns for your reference.

Zhujiajiao Water Town
Location: 50 km (31 mi) southwest of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 17 to Zhujiajiao Station, 1.5 hours
Admission Fee: Free for entrance, CNY60 for 8 sites inside
Recommended Time for a Visit: 3-4 hours

Zhujiajiao Water Town enjoys beautiful lake views. It’s recommended that tourists walk along the North Street and visit the Daqing Post Office, City God Temple and the Yuanjin Temple one by one. Also shouldn’t be missed are the quaint Fangsheng Bridge, the largest arch stone bridge with five holes in Shanghai, and the beautiful Kezhi Garden. Besides, being a place full of delicacies, Zhujiajiao sells delicious dumplings, glutinous rice balls, braised pig feet and many kinds of pastries.

 Recommended Tour:  Half Day Shanghai Tour to Zhujiajiao Water Town from $109

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Nanxiang Ancient Town

Nanxiang Ancient Town
Location: 17km (11mi) northwest of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 11 to Nanxiang Station, then transfer to Jiading Bus Line 119, 129 or 115; 1-1.5 hours in total
Admission Fee: Free for entrance, CNY10 for Guyi Garden, extra fee for other sites inside
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1 day
 
People often associate it with the famous Nanxiang Steamed Buns, but this Shanghai old town has more than that. The most worth-visiting attraction here is the Guyi Garden, inside which the pavilions and corridors are decorated with begonia blossom in spring, lotus in summer and plum blossom in winter. Do not forget to roam along the Nanxiang Old Street. The stone road, lined with traditional residences with white walls and black tiles, leads you to the tranquil temples and pagodas.
Zhouzhuang Water Town
Location: Kunshan City, southeast Suzhou; 70 km (44 mi) from Shanghai
How to Get There: A direct bus from Long-Distance Bus Terminal, 1.5 hours
Admission Fee: CNY100, valid for 3 days   
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 days
 
Surrounded by water from four directions, Zhouzhuang boasts numerous waterways and stone bridges. A boat tour to fully enjoy the scenery is highly recommended. Besides, many residences here belonged to the rich and the powerful during ancient times, thus their interior decoration is worth seeing. As for dishes, gourmets must try the famous Wansan Pork Shank here. At the end of your tour, you can buy your families and friends some souvenirs like woodcuts and bamboo-plaited articles.

 Recommended Tour:  5 Days Shanghai Tour with Suzhou & Zhouzhuang from $699
Wuzhen Water Town
Location: Tongxiang City, Zhejiang Province; 160 km (100 mi) from Shanghai
How to Get There: Take a bus from South Long-Distance Bus Station, 2 hours
Admission Fee: CNY 110 for Dongzha area; CNY 150 for Xizha area; CNY 190 for a combo ticket
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 days
 
Wuzhen Water Town (in Jiaxing city) brings tourists two difference experiences at the east area (Dongzha) and the west area (Xizha). Tourists can first go to the bustling east area to watch folk performances such as Shadow Puppetry and the acrobatics on the boat. Then, you can take a shuttle bus to the west area to visit the ancient bookstore and the post office, and try stinky tofu and other pastries. What’s more, Xizha’s night view is really stunning.

 Recommended Tour:  Explore Wuzhen Water Town from Shanghai from $135
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Jinze Ancient Town  

Location: 57km (35mi) southwest of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Hushang High Speed Express Bus to Jinze Bus Station, then walk south for 500m (550yd), 1.5 hours
Admission Fee: Free
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 hours
 
Apart from the peaceful ponds and rivers, Jinze Ancient Town is known for seven old bridges built from the Song to Qing Dynasties (960-1911). These bridges are of various sizes and shapes, some made from wood and some made from stone. Even the carvings on each bridge are worth a closer look. Compared with other Shanghai old towns, Jinze Ancient Town is less commercialized, and is truly a pristine water town in Shanghai.
Qibao Ancient Town
Location: 20 km (12 mi) southwest of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 9 to Qibao Station, 0.5 hour
Admission Fee: Free for entrance; CNY5-10 for each site inside
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 hours
 
This is one of the closest old towns to Shanghai downtown. As early as the Northern Song (960-1127), a fair has been formed here and some Northern Song remains can still be found in the deep alleys. During the visit, you’ll learn how ancient people pawned goods, watched crickets fighting, made cotton clothes, and brewed liquor… The North Street feasts your eyes on paintings, calligraphy and handicrafts, and the good smell of snacks on the South Street will arouse your appetite.
Fengjing Ancient Town
Location: 75 km (47 mi) southwest of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take a bus from Meilong Bus Station and then transfer to Fengjing Bus Line1/2, 1.5-2 hours
Admission Fee: Free for entrance; CNY50 for a combo ticket of all sites inside
Recommended Time for a Visit: 3-4 hours
 
As another Shanghai old town, Fengjing embraces not only beautiful waterscapes but also artistic air, because many galleries and artists’ residences are located here. Tourists can closely appreciate farmer paintings, caricatures and Chinese watercolor paintings. If it is a holiday or in peak tourist season, traditional theatrical performances will make the atmosphere more lively. You can walk into a tea house to watch the performance with a cup of Chinese tea. Also, Fengjing Ancient Town’s top specialty, Ding’s Pork Shank, is a must.
Xinchang Ancient Town
Location: 35 km (22 mi) southeast of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 16 to Xinchang Station and then take Long-Gang/ Long-Dong Special Bus Line, 1 hour
Admission Fee: Free for entrance, extra fee for sites inside
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 hours
 
Don’t visit this Shanghai old town in a hurry because each residence, stone bridge, memorial archway and alleyway tells its history of more than 800 years. Many historical sites, such as the Zhang’s Residence and the tea house built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), also make this place full of charm. Aside from tasting local pancakes and steamed dumplings, shopping at the old grocery or having a haircut at the traditional barbershop are both novel experiences.
Tongli Town
Location: Suzhou City; 90 km (56 mi) southwest of Shanghai
How to Get There: A direct bus from Long-Distance Bus Terminal, 2 hours
Admission Fee: CNY100, valid for 2 days
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 days
 
At this town interspersed with small rivers, you can visit the exquisite Chinese gardens, celebrities’ residences and special exhibition halls during the daytime. Remember to round off your tour by trying delicious pastries and watching Pingtan performances. In the evening, when the colorful lanterns are lit up, the whole water town glimmers with red and yellow light, truly unforgettable.

 Recommended Tour:  One Day Suzhou Tour from Shanghai with Tongli Water Town from $123
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Liantang Ancient Town

Liantang Ancient Town
Location: 60 km (37 mi) southwest of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 17 to Zhujiajiao Station and then take Qing-Xiao/Qing-Song/Qing-Zheng Bus Line, 2 hours
Admission Fee: Free for entrance, CNY5 for Chenyun Residential House inside
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 hours
 
At the Liantang Ancient Town, tourists will gain a sense of peace while walking through the arcades, quays, alleyways and traditional residences. If you get tired, take a boat to slowly enjoy more than 10 stone bridges hiding in the willows. Buildings on each side also represent different styles. On the one side stand two-storey shops while plain residences stand on the other side.
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Zhaojialou Ancient Town

Location: 19km (12mi) south of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 8 to Shendu Road station, then transfer to Minhang Bus Line 10 to Zhaojialou Ancient Town Station, 1 hour
Admission Fee: Free for entrance, CNY20 for Liyuan Garden
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1-2 hours
 
Old streets, water lanes and stone bridges make Zhaojialou a typical Shanghai old town. After having a boat tour, why not try authentic Shanghai flavor on the Xingdong Street and the Pingxi Street? Among all sorts of delicacies, Zhaolou Mutton, Zhaolou Braised Pork Hock and the Zhaolou Daqu liquor are most popular. Then, you can go on visiting cotton pictures on the Chunyou Street and the handicraft stores along the Baonan Street. Also, if you want to know more stories about this ancient town, Liyuan Garden, as well as the exhibition halls inside, will make your tour worthwhile.
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Chuansha Ancient Town

Location: 22km (14mi) east of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 2 to Chuanshan Station, then transfer to Pudong Bus Line 24, 1-1.5 hours
Admission Fee: Free
Recommended Time for a Visit: 2-3 hours
 
Tired of rivers and boats? Then come to Chuansha Ancient Town to see the old city wall, traditional academy and residence and the Gothic cathedral. Unlike other Shanghai old towns which more or less attract people for catering service, Chuansha distinguishes itself with many interactive activities to promote Chinese culture. Local people show tourists how to write calligraphy, appreciate antiques, sample tea, and so on. Besides, the performances of Shanghai Opera, Yue Opera and the Pingtan are both visually and acoustically appealing.
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Gaoqiao Ancient Town

Location: 16km (10mi) northeast of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 6 to Waigaoqiao Bonded Area Station, then walk southwest for 800m (870yd); 1.5 hours
Admission Fee: Free
Recommended Time for a Visit: 3-4 hours
 
If you are curious about Shanghainese’s life during the late Qing Dynasty, this Shanghai old town should be on your travel list. Inside the Yangxian Hall, many exhibits like mosquito nets, oiled paper umbrellas, clothes, water pipes, etc. will directly show you every aspect of people’s life. You can even tell the transformation of Shanghai at that time through the Western-style furnace and the ceiling lamp. Also, remember to see the vivid Gaoqiao woollen tapestry and try the crispy Gaoqiao muffin during your visit.
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Sijing Ancient Town

Location: 23km (14mi) southwest of downtown Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Metro Line 9 to Sijing Station, then transfer to Songjiang Bus Line 46, 47, 48 or 57, 1.5 hours
Admission Fee: Free
Recommended Time for a Visit: 2-3 hours
 
Since Sijing is less crowded than many Shanghai old towns mentioned above, this place is recommended to those who crave quietness. Anfang Pagoda, Fulian Bridge and the Futianjing Temple are the three worth-seeing historical attractions here. Young people needn’t worry that this tour can be boring because a fashionable bookstore called Nan Cun Ying Xue is waiting for you. It looks no different from a residence from outside, but once you walk in, the neatly-arrayed books, handicrafts as well as the smell of coffee and tea will make you relaxed.
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Jinxi Ancient Town

Location: Kunshan City, southeast Suzhou; 55km (34mi) west of Shanghai
How to Get There: Take Huqing High Speed Express Bus to Yinggang Road Caoying Road stop, then transfer to Kunshan bus line C6 to Jinxi stop, 3 hours
Admission Fee: CNY18 for entrance
 Recommended Time for a Visit: 1 day
 
The scenery of Jinxi Ancient Town is as beautiful as a Chinese ink painting. Buddhist temples, stone bridges and the peaceful lake form a good background for you to take photos. When you walk on the old streets, many Chinese antiques, clay teapots for example, can feast your eyes. Also, tourists who like desserts can try Changlong Mooncakes and Begonia Pastries here.

 Read more:
8 Best Water Towns near Shanghai
Places of Interest in Shanghai: 12 Historical Sites to Explore
10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Shanghai
15 Free Things to Do in Shanghai
11 Most Romantic Places for a Honeymoon in Shanghai
 7 Crazy Things to Do in Shanghai for Adventurous Tourists
Shanghai Off the Beaten Path: 8 Lesser-Known Places to Visit

- Last modified on Apr. 13, 2021 -
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