Home Asia Visiting Zhouzhuang: A Water Town near Shanghai

Visiting Zhouzhuang: A Water Town near Shanghai

by Kat
A bridge over a canal in Zhouzhuang, China near Shanghai

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.

Canals in Zhouzhuang

Zhouzhuang Pagoda

A gate leading to Zhouzhuang Water Village

Houses in Zhouzhuang Water Town

People strolling happily through the streets of Zhouzhuang Water Town

Zhouzhuang Water Town Street

Zhouzhuang Water Town in China

Zhouzhuang Water Town near Shanghai

Zhouzhuang Admission Fee

There is a 100 RMB admission fee.

How to Get to Zhouzhuang Water Town from Shanghai

It takes about 1.5 hours by bus to get there from Shanghai. For more details about the bus schedule, click here.

When to Visit Zhouzhuang

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.

Fu’an Bridge

Fu’an Bridge

What to Do in Zhouzhuang Water Town

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.

A boat rower rows a boat down a canal in Zhouzhuang, China

A boat rower rows a boat down a canal in Zhouzhuang, China

A boat rower rows a boat down a canal in Zhouzhuang, China

Canals in Zhouzhuang

A boat rower rows a boat down a canal in Zhouzhuang, China

A boat rower rows a boat down a canal in Zhouzhuang, China

Visit Chengxu Temple
Chengxu temple in Zhouzhuang.

Many koi fish in the water at Zhouzhuang

So many koi fish!

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.

Traditional Flute Player in Zhouzhuang

Pieces from a traditional Chinese chess set in Zhouzhuang

Pieces from a traditional Chinese chess set.

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.
A woman poses in traditional dress in Zhouzhuang

What to Eat in Zhouzhuang Water Town

Food items on a menu in a Zhouzhuang restaurant

Some interesting menu items at a restaurant.

 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.

Suzhou-style Noodles

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!

Delicious Suzhou-style noodles

A restaurant in Zhouzhuang that serves noodles

The restaurant where I ate the noodles.

Fish and Shellfish

Many fish and shellfish are available in markets, including white clams and freshwater whitebait.
A fish market in Zhouzhuang Water Town

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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”.

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Barbara from Barbaralicious April 30, 2017 - 12:42 am

I just read about Zhouzhuang last month or so. I’m sure that I would love it and when I see your photos and read your post, I immediately wanna board a plane a fly to Shanghai!

Thank you 🙂

Kat May 6, 2017 - 5:11 pm

You will love it! I hope you get to visit someday. 🙂

Vibeke April 30, 2017 - 12:53 am

Wow this looks amazing ! I havent heard about it. It kinda reminds me of Venice or the Netherlands but in Asia 😀 It seems so interesting and those Koi fishes are so cool . I hope I get to check this out one day 😀

Kat May 6, 2017 - 5:03 pm

It’s definitely an Asian Venice. 🙂 I love the koi fish as well!

Migrating Minna April 30, 2017 - 6:57 am

If not heard of it before but it looks so cool. The noodles sound delicious even to a pescetarian!

Kat May 6, 2017 - 5:04 pm

They were the best Chinese noodles I’ve ever had! 😀

Kelly April 30, 2017 - 10:46 am

Oh man. I can see why it is called the Venice of the East. I wish I got to visit while I was in China but sadly I did not. I just love how there is so much to explore in China. I would love to check out the opera here. Sounds like a lot of fun!!!

Kat May 6, 2017 - 5:05 pm

Yes, China is a huge country with so much to see and do. 🙂 I want to explore it more. I didn’t watch the opera so that’s on my list for next time!

Christina April 30, 2017 - 1:25 pm

Oh wow I had no idea this place existed! My parents are from China and I’ve only ever visited once (to Guangzhou and Hong Kong). I’ve been meaning to go back and this definitely looks like a neat day trip to do from Shanghai 🙂 lol at “rural chickens” being on the menu like that though… like… why?! haha 🙂

Kat May 6, 2017 - 5:11 pm

Yes, definitely visit a water town if you have the chance! 🙂 It’s such a fun experience.

I just had to take a photo of that menu! I found it so funny. Imagine ordering chicken for your meal and being given a live one!!

Kaylene April 30, 2017 - 8:55 pm

Wow, what a cute town! I’d love to take a boat ride down the canal. Whenever I visit Shanghai, I’ll have to put this on my list!

Kat May 6, 2017 - 5:12 pm

The boat ride was a lot of fun!

Anita May 1, 2017 - 10:16 am

That initial photo really drew me in, I loved the little bridge. I’ve always been in awe with China’s architecture, it’s so different from the Americas…I love it. I didn’t know that this little place existed and that it drew such large tourist crowds. Maybe one day I will get to visit.

Kat May 6, 2017 - 5:13 pm

I’m glad you like the photo! I love the bridges in the town as well. China’s architecture is so special!

David McClane May 12, 2017 - 1:41 am

I had never heard of this place before seeing this post – It looks absolutely beautiful! I’ve never been to China but if i go, this will definitely be on my list – even just to have some of those noodles!

Chloe May 13, 2017 - 6:46 am

This place looks so quaint and peaceful, I would love to visit here! Your photos are stunning. Will have to keep this in mind for future travels to china!

Jane August 8, 2017 - 6:05 am

Such great photos! I visited Zhouzhuang years ago so it’s lovely to take a walk down memory lane with your post. I had no idea the boat rowers also sing though, will keep that in mind for next time 🙂

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