Zhouzhuang Water Town is a town near Shanghai, China that is famous for its canals and bridges. It is often called “the Venice of the East”. Since Zhouzhuang is surrounded by many lakes and rivers, it used to be a distribution center for silks, food, ceramics and art. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction, especially as a day trip from Shanghai.
There is a 100 RMB admission fee.
How to Get There
It takes about 1.5 hours by bus to get there from Shanghai. For more details about the bus schedule, click here.
When to Go
Avoid visiting on weekends or public holidays as the village will be very crowded with tourists from all over China. I went during March and the village did have some tourists, but not a huge amount.
What to Do in Zhouzhuang
Take a boat ride on the canal
I highly recommend taking a boat ride. You can relax and enjoy the views while sitting in a traditional boat. The cost is around 100-150 RMB for a boat which holds 1-6 people. Tip the boat rower about 20 RMB and they will sing traditional songs for you! The boat ride lasts about 20 minutes. Since boat rides are available until 8pm, you can also take a ride in the evening for a different perspective. Sometimes there are beautiful lanterns on the boats.
Visit Chengxu Temple
Visit Shen House
Built in 1742, this was the home of a wealthy local man. It has over 100 rooms. There is a section where cultural artifacts like traditional instruments are on display.
Visit Zhang House
This is a former residence built in the Ming Dynasty. It has a peaceful courtyard and pond.
Watch Kunqu Opera Performance
A traditional Chinese opera. It is held every day from April to October between 10:30-11:30 and 14:00-16:00. There is also a night show from19:00-21:00 on Friday & Saturday. If you miss it, you can view the beautiful costumes in a glass case outside the theatre.
Watch Zhouzhuang in Four Seasons Show
An acrobatics and dance show is held every night from April to November.
Have a Photoshoot
There are photography shops in the town where you can dress up in traditional Chinese outfits and pose for photos.
What to Eat
Wansan Pork Shank
These are pork thighs or upper legs flavoured with special herbs and spices. This is Zhouzhuang’s most famous dish and is named after Shen Wansan, the richest man in the area during the late Yuan and early Ming Dynasty.
This type of noodle, called longxu mian (dragon-beard noodles), is long and thin. The soup is made of pig bone and chicken meat. I had a bowl of these noodles at a little restaurant on the pedestrian street just outside the water town, and they were the most delicious Chinese noodles I’ve ever had!
Fish and Shellfish
Many fish and shellfish are available in markets, including white clams and freshwater whitebait.