Water towns have become a popular attraction in Southern China and have attracted many travelers in recent years. Towns like Zhouzhuang, Wuzhen, Tongli and Xitang are famous and welcome thousands of visitors every day, especially at weekends and holidays. Though they are beautiful, the high number of tourists, to some extent, limits the charm and tradition atmosphere. There are untouched water towns around Shanghai with beautiful scenery and fewer travelers. This guide will help get there before the crowds.
Luzhi is located 18 kilometers east of downtown Suzhou and about 58 kilometers west of Shanghai. Lu means six in the local dialect and Zhi means straight in Chinese. Therefore Luzhi refers to 6 straight rivers in the town. It features nice waterways and a variety of old bridges with some dating back to the Song Dynasty. From its nickname—the Capital of Bridges we could see ancient bridges play an important role.
It was once called Puli and was changed to Luzhi in late Qing Dynasty. The ancient bridges up to a 1000 year old make a picturesque setting. The most famous spots in Luzhi are Baoshen Temple and the Museum of Luzhi Farming Implements.
As one of Ten Chinese Famous Watertowns, Luzhi gets more attention than some other untouched water towns. On weekdays it is empty for the most part. Holidays and weekends are more crowded but you still could find your own space in early morning and late afternoon. The pace is slower than that of the busier water towns.
A ticket of 78 Yuan/person covers all attractions in Luzhi which are open from 9:00-17:00. Luzhi Old Street has stalls selling local street snacks. Most restaurants are set along both sides of the river and a little over-priced for the quality
22 Public buses at Zhongshan Bus Station depart every day from Shanghai to Luzhi. During weekends and holidays, there are tourist buses from Shanghai to Luzhi Water Town from Shanghai Yangpu Sports Center, Hongkou Football Stadium and Shanghai Stadium. The return in the afternoon and cost 120 Yuan/person for round trip including entrance fee.
2 1/2 hours
Worth visiting for the ancient bridges, you will meet some tourist groups on the street but megaphones will not always be in your ear.
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Located in Huzhou City in Zhejiang Province, Nanxun is west of Shanghai. It is divided into 3 sections. A section with old mansions, traditional alleys and the river’s meandering help you revisit the past Nanxun history and its unique culture. The center section has lotus gardens, Jieye Library and the Wen Garden is the heartl of this small town. The area east of East Avenue (Dong Dajie) is known as for its old residences, Baijian Buildings (a-hundred houses) and some other sites. It stands out from many water towns with its classical southern gardens and classical Chinese buildings. Lotus garden, Jiaye Libraries and Baijian Buildings are the representative of this.
The town shows its best in summer which is the best time for the lotus and the trees along the river. Locals sip tea and play cards beside the river giving this ancient town a special charm. During Spring Festival and Qingming Festival there are some local activities.
Nanxun does not have a large group of tourists during the week. You may see a few groups of tourists at weekends, especially in summer. It would be a good getaway diring Spring Festival to avoid crowds and enjoy local activities.
Attractions are open from 8:00-17:00. A ticket of 100 Yuan/person covers all attractions except boat rides in Nanxun. Children between 3.6 inches-4.6 inches cost 50 Yuan/person and no charge for children under 3.6 inches. Boat rides start from 100 Yuan for a boat with 8 seats. Eateries beside the river and near some attractions offer more options but are more expensive relative high price. Some cheap choices may be found in noodle restaurants.
The Main Shanghai Long Distance Bus Station from 6:50 am and Shanghai South Bus Station from 10:00 am have regular services to Nanxun at 45 Yuan/person. Shanghai Long Bus Station in Hutai Road from 5:55-17:00 has buses to Nanxun every 1 hour. Qiu Jiang Long Distance Bus Station from 6:00-19:30 has Bus to Nanxun every 20 minutes. It costs 30 Yuan/person for ordinary bus and 50 Yuan/person for air-conditioned buses. These buses go to Huzhou but stops at Nanxun so make sure your driver knows your destination.
1 1/2 to 2 hours.
The relatively short distance and fewer tourists make this small town with stunning scenery a good option for a day trip from Shanghai.
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Located in 23 km southwest of Kunshan City in Jiangsu Province and 50 km south of Shanghai, Jinxi is another new-found water town with very few people in a stunning setting. It is only 8 km away from Zhouzhuang but provides totally different leisure space. The Jinxi River meanders through the town. It enjoys a reputation of a sleeping maiden.
Jinxi is an ancient town with more than 2500 years history. It was deeply loved by Concubine Chen during the Song Dynasty and later her tomb was also placed there. The Eight Sceneries of Jinxi and the Corridor Bridge, Lotus Pool Temple and Wenchang pavilion are also highlights.
Jinxi stands because of its museums. Jinxi Town has 15 folk museums with collections of high value. They include bricks, Chinese calligraphy, antiques and red stoneware. Jinxi is the hometown of Chinese folk museums.
Though it is a newly-developed water town, Jinxi has caught the attention of many people because of the beautiful natural scenery. Avoid it on all holidays except Spring Festival. Weekdays are OK and at weekends may be a little crowded.
Attractions are open from 8:00 and close at 17:00 from April to November and 16:30 between Decembers and March. 65 Yuan covers all entrance fees. Local delicious hairy crabs are famous. A pair of hairy crabs may cost 45 Yuan to 100 Yuan.
There are several buses each day from the Long Distance Bus Station in NO 80, Gongxing Road, Shanghai. It costs 18 Yuan/person. At weekends and during holidays tourist buses leave from Hongkou Football Stadium and Shanghai Stadium.
The scenery and culture stands out above all towns. Compared with its crowded and noisy neighbor Zhouzhuang, it is much better a place to enjoy a relaxed day in comfortable surroundings.
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Fengjing Water Town is a small beautiful town built during the Yuan Dynasty. It is located in the southwest of Shanghai. It boasts waterways and 52 bridges. The oldest bridge is Zhihe Bridge from the Yuan Dynasty over 700 years ago. Heping Street, Shengchan Street, Beida Street and Youhao Street are preserved pretty well and therefore it is of the best water towns around Shanghai. Compared with other water towns has less visitors as it is not well known.
Bridges, temples, alleys and famous people are the specialties of Fengjing in the tradition of classical southern water towns. Under green trees, many lotuses dot the town. In late September, 20 couples hold their weddings in Fengjing to experience local tradition. The wedding is based strictly on ancient wedding procedures and customs.
As a new-found water town, Fengjing is empty even on holidays. Visitors will get leisurely day in tranquil surroundings to enjoy the water town and get away from noisy city and famous scenic spots.
Attractions open from 8:00-16:30 and 50 Yuan/person covers all attractions. A day indulging in Fengjing is worthwhile. There is no need to have lunch in restaurants because there are many delicious street stalls and they are cheap.
Take Metro Line 1 and get off at Jinjiang Leyuan Station. Then take Fengmei Line at Southwest Bus Station for 11 Yuan/person in 45 minutes. Transfer to Zhonghong Village by bus Fengjing 1 at a cost of 2 Yuan. There are also direct buses from Shanghai to Fenjing at Hongkong Football Stadium.
Though there are not many attractions but the town itself is charming. It has only a few visitors which offer space to see what a real water town.
|Features||Ancient bridges||Classical Chinese Buildings||Museums of Collections||Local activities|
|Crowds||A little busy at weekends and holidays||OK on weekdays||Pleasantly empty on weekdays||Relatively empty even on holidays|
|Travelers Number Index||xxx||xxx||xx||x|
|Restoration||Partly Restored||Mostly Untouched||Mostly Untouched||Untouched|
|Cost||78Yuan/person||100 Yuan/person||65 Yuan/person||50 Yuan/person|
|Travel Time||2 1/2 hours||1 1/2 to 2 hours||1 hour||1 hour|
|Verdict||Do not go on holidays. It is worth visiting for ancient bridges.||Short distance and fewer tourists than most water towns, a day trip from Shanghai would be Ok.||Avoid weekends and holidays.||Very near Shanghai and half-day would be enough|