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Shanghai Water Town FAQs

Although the water towns near Shanghai are becoming more and more popular, we believe not every tourist is familiar with them. The frequently asked questions below are selected based on our customers’ travel experience and the mails they sent us. We hope you will draw an inspiration with your tour plan after reading these questions.

1. What are the highlights in water towns?

Sculling boats-According to most our customers experience, admiring the water towns from a sculling boat is amazing. When your boat flows past ancient houses, traditional local shops and tourists on banks, you will feel like cruising in the scroll of history.

Ancient houses (local museums)-Most ancient houses in water towns were owned by rich merchants in ancient times. The deep water town culture and ancient merchants’ luxury lives are reflected by the decoration and antiques in these ancient houses. Lots of local museums were set up based on these merchants’ former residences, such as the Folk Custom Museum in Tongli, the Jili Silk Museum in Nanxun, the Ancient Bed Museum in Zhouzhuang and the Wood Caving Museum in Xitang.

Ancient bridges-Thanks to these bridges, ancient residents in water towns could go to other places on foot. Most ancient bridges offer tourists wonderful background for photo, besides, most bridges are considered to be lucky places by local people. They walk through bridges to pray for good health and safety. You may want to follow them to see if these method works to you.

2. When to travel to water towns?

Normally, it is recommended to travel to water towns during weekdays, because there are fewer tourists during weekdays. It is worth to visit water towns in any season, because there are different view and culture highlights in different seasons.

3. How to avoid meeting big tour groups in water towns if I only have time during weekends or public holidays?

First of all, we suggest you go as early as possible. Big tour groups usually arrive at around 10:00 AM. Second, we suggest you go to a bigger water town, such as Nanxun. If you meet big tour groups in Nanxun, there will be enough space for you to walk away. After these groups are gone, you can return to your planned route. Check out Nanxun Water Town Day Tour from Shanghai


4. Do water towns really look like “Oriental Venice”?

Although lots of water towns describe themselves as “Oriental Venice” in their slogan, it is not that true. The environment and tourist facilities in Chinese water towns are not as good as Venice. And the water town culture and views are completely different from Venice. Chinese people think the water towns can be Oriental Venice because there are beautiful water channels in both Venice and these water towns and boats are major mode of transport in both Venice and these water towns.

5. Is it easy to travel to water towns independently for a non-Chinese speaker?

There are English signs in most water towns, but it is still not so convenient for a foreigner. You can follow other tourists to major attractions in water towns, but it is impossible to understand the water town culture very well without a tour guide.

6. Is it expensive to travel to water towns?

You have to bargain. Even if you don’t speak Chinese, you can show a number via your gestures. Normally, they will charge you a higher price than Chinese, so they will make a concession if you hold on a little longer.

7. Is the environment in water towns good enough?

Generally speaking, the environment in water towns is better than their surrounding cities, such as Shanghai, Suzhou or Hangzhou. You may still see a clean water town even if the air is seriously polluted in cities near the water town.

8. What about the local foods in water towns?

Most Chinese people like the street foods in water towns very much, such as the stinky tofu and pig’s knuckles. However, they look dirty to some foreigners. If you also think these street foods are dirty, just eat in a restaurant, where you can taste delicious river foods. The restaurants are much cleaner than street foods.

9. Is it worth to stay in a water town for one night or two?

It is recommended to stay in a water town for at least one night, because the night view of a water town is very different from daytime, especially when the lanterns are lit up, you will forget the fact that you are living in the 21st century and your thought will fly back to hundreds of years ago.

10. Which one is the best water town?

According to our customers’ feedback, Tongli is the best water town. It is quiet during weekdays and can be included in a one-day tour package with Suzhou. Besides, it offers you an authentic water town atmosphere.