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Top 10 Water Towns in China

China's water towns are mainly dotted in regions south of the Yangtze River around Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou. These towns were built along rivers hundreds of years ago. Picturesque views differing from modern cities offer you a glimpse of the old traditions and well-designed ancient buildings. Here are the best 10 water towns in China and each one has its own characteristics to offer you a leisure getaway.   

Map of Top 10 China Water Towns
Map of Top 10 China Water Towns




 

1  

Zhouzhuang: No.1 Water Town in China

Zhouzhuang Water Town
Location: Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province
Distance from: Shanghai 70 km (44 mi); Suzhou 40 km (25 mi); Hangzhou 150 km (93 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Touristy
Visiting Time: 1 - 2 days

How to Tour: As one of the top water towns in China, Zhouzhuang is full of waterways and well-preserved ancient residences. The Shen House and Zhang House are the typical old buildings you cannot miss. It won’t take a long time to stroll around the whole town, but taking a boat can give you a different travel experience. Besides the attractions like Milou Tower, Chengxu Taoist Temple, you can drop by aircrafts stores along the street. In addition, a paper-themed restaurant called Carton King is very interesting.   

 Recommended Tour:  5 Days Shanghai Tour to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang from $689
2 

Wuzhen: the Most Cultural Water Town

Wuzhen Water Town
Location: Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province
Distance from: Shanghai 130 km (81 mi); Suzhou 80 km (50 mi); Hangzhou 80 km (50 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Touristy
Visiting Time: 1 - 2 days

How to Tour: Wuzhen is one of the most beautiful water towns in China with two parts: Dongzha and Xizha. It is also known for being the hometown of a famous Chinese writer Maodun. In the day time, meander along the narrow lanes in Xizha to visit Zhaoming Academy, Matchmaker's Temple and the Old Post office. At night, taking a rowing boat to enjoy gorgeous night views of Xizha is one of the best activities to do. Staying overnight in Xizha and then going sightseeing in Dongzha the next day is a good option. In Dongzha, the Shadow Play Theater, Hong Yuan Tai Dye House, Ancient Bed Museum and Maodun’s Former Residence are worth a visit.

 Recommended Tour:  4 Days Hangzhou Tour with Wuzhen from $479
3 

Xitang: A Dream Ancient Town

Xitang Water Town
Location: Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province
Distance from: Shanghai 85 km (53 mi); Suzhou 70 km (44 mi); Hangzhou 130 km (81 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Less-touristy
Visiting Time: 1 - 2 days

How to Tour: Xitang is one of the top water towns in China and features narrow lanes, ancient bridges and covered corridors. The 1,300-meter (0.8 mi) long covered corridor makes it out of the other water towns. In the day time, you can stroll along the West Street where situated some ancient buildings like Zhongfu Hall and Wenzun Hall. At night, have a drink at Tangdong Street, which is full of nice bars.
4 

Tongli: Venice of the East

Tongli Water Town
Location: Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province
Distance from: Shanghai 90 km (56 mi); Suzhou 25 km (16 mi); Hangzhou 140 km (87 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Less-touristy
Visiting Time: 1 - 2 days

How to Tour: Among Suzhou water towns, Tongli may not be the most famous one, but it is undoubtedly the most anticipated water town. The dense water ways divide the town into seven parts so that it has been called "the Venice of the East". The highlight of the town is the Retreat and Reflection Garden with an intricate layout. Besides that, Jiayin Hall and Congben Hall, Three Bridges including Taiping Bridge, Changqing Bridge and Jili Bridge are must-visit sights.

 Recommended Tour:   Suzhou 2 Days Trip with Tongli Water Town from $269
5 

Luzhi: An Unforgettable Water Town

Luzhi Ancient Town
Location: Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province
Distance from: Shanghai 70 km (43 mi); Suzhou 30 km (19 mi); Hangzhou 170 km (106 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Comfortable
Visiting Time: 3 - 4 hours

How to Tour: Luzhi has a history of about 2, 500 years and features 41 old stone bridges. Besides various bridges, walking along its main street Shangtang Street, you can visit old residences like Xiao's Mansion and Shen's House. In the southeast of the town, lies the Jiangnan Culture Park where you can not only appreciate some historic relics but also explore local customs in the Women's Costume Museum. Another must-visit place is Baosheng Temple, which keeps 9 vivid Arhat statues made in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907).
6 

Nanxun: Once the Richest Water Town

Nanxun Water Town
Location: Huzhou City, Jiangsu Province
Distance from: Shanghai 120 km (75 mi); Suzhou 65 km (40 mi); Hangzhou 90 km (56 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Less-touristy
Visiting Time: 1 - 2 days

How to Tour: Served as a silk producing base for royal families, Nanxun Water towns used to be the richest town in the south Yangtze River delta area. Nowadays, most sights of the town are private houses and gardens of the rich businessmen in history. The old buildings of the town have both Chinese and Western elements. The tranquil environment and elegant houses make it one of the most beautiful water towns in China. Also, you may have a chance to witness a traditional Chinese wedding on the water, which is very impressive.

 Recommended Tour:  3 Days Hangzhou Tour with Nanxun Water Town from $379
7 

Mudu: the Treasury of Wu Culture

Mudu Ancient Town
Location: Suzhou City, Jiangsu province
Distance from: Shanghai 110 km (68 mi); Suzhou 15 km (9 mi); Hangzhou 170 km (106 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Comfortable
Visiting Time: 3 - 4 hours

How to Tour: Mudu is an ancient water town where you can have an exploration of the Wu culture, which refers to the ancient civilization in southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang regions. The main attractions of the town include Yan’s Garden, Old Pine Garden, Hongyin Shanfang Garden and Bangyan Mansion. There are about twenty imperial edicts from the emperors in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) placing in Hongyin Shanfang Garden. If you want to buy souvenirs, the local crafts such as silk, two-sided embroidery, red wood and stone carvings are recommended.
8 

Zhujiajiao: Ancient Town in Modern Shanghai

Zhujiajiao Water Town
Location: Qingpu District, southwest of Shanghai City
Distance from: Shanghai 50 km (31 mi); Suzhou 75 km (47 mi); Hangzhou 160 km (99 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Touristy
Visiting Time: 3 - 4 hours

How to Tour: When planning Shanghai water town tours, Zhujiajiao is the first choice since it is not far from the Shanghai downtown area and can be easily accessed by Metro Line 17. Enter from the south entrance; you can see the Zhuxi Garden and a small art museum which records the local history. After that, stroll along the main street of the town, North Street which is lined with snacks shops. Some ancient bridges just cross over the nearby water canals. On Caohe Street, several attractions including Yuanjin Temple, Post Office in Qing Dynasty, and Kezhi Garden are worth visiting.

 Recommended Tour:  Shanghai Day Trip to Zhujiajiao from $119
9 

Guangfu: Hometown of “Sea of Fragrant Snow”

Guangfu Ancient Town
Location: Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province
Distance from: Shanghai 120 km (75 mi); Suzhou 27 km (17 mi); Hangzhou 180 km (112 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Non-touristy
Visiting Time: 2 - 3 hours

How to Tour: The most famous site of the town is Bronze Guanyin Temple named after a bronze Buddhist statue from the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). Besides that, the most alluring scenery is the “Sea of Fragrant Snow” near the town, which refers to a lot of white plum blossoms blooming all over the mountains in February and March.
10 

Anchang: Experience Shaoxing Customs

Anchang Old Town
Location: Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province
Distance from: Shanghai 200 km (124 mi); Suzhou 170 km (106 mi); Hangzhou 40 km (25 mi)
Rating:
Crowds: Non-touristy
Visiting Time: 2 - 3 hours

How to Tour: Anchang water town is one of the best water towns with primitive beauty and you can still witness some traditional customs today. The sausage and soybean sauce are special local products hanging on nearly every house of the town. In addition to the ancient bridges and old buildings, you can visit the sights such as the Suikang Private Bank, Stone Sculpture Museum, China Bank Site, Town’s God Temple and Anchang Huaxingbu. Another highlight here is the black-awning boat drifting on the waterways, which is driven by both hands and feet.

 Furthur Reading:
Top 8 Suzhou Water Towns 
8 Best Water Towns near Shanghai
- Last modified on May. 06, 2020 -
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