Famous water towns in China
China's water towns, often referred as Venice of the East, are famous for their ancient buildings, bridges, canals, and ways of life that have not changed in centuries. They are idyllic destinations to unwind from the hustle and bustle of China's cities and can offer visitors glimpses into China's ancient past.
The water towns are perfect destinations for lovers of photography. The photo opportunities are endless, and by taking a small water taxi, visitors can take a leisurely cruise through these villages getting a different perspective on them. The gardens in the villages, although not as well known as the villages in Suzhou, are of the same style, and no less grand. Because they are not as well known, they are not as crowded either which is a definite benefit.
Why take a China water town tour?
There are two main reasons for visiting a water town. First, life in these water towns seems to have stood still and visitors can still see the unique traditional folk cultures of Southeastern China. Their vicinity to Shanghai makes the tour flexible enough to be extended. It is easy to fall in love with a place where life is still seems traditional and laid-back. If you take the time to visit these water towns, you will be surprised by what you discover.
One of the most famous water towns in China, Zhouzhuang is located in Kunshan City, 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the southeast of Suzhou City. Occupying an area of just over half a square kilometer (124 acres), over 60 percent of Zhouzhuang's buildings were built during the Ming (1368-1911) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. The village is known for its ancient traditions and customs, preserved buildings, ancient bridges, and picturesque location.
Located in the suburbs of Shanghai, Zhujiajiao occupies an area of over 47 square kilometers (18 square miles), making it China's largest water town. The town of Zhujiajiao is laid out like a traditional Chinese fan, and is surrounded by lakes and mountains making it one of the most picturesque towns in China. The majority of the buildings in Zhujiajiao date back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties and are in a remarkable state of preservation. The several large gardens that are scattered around this ancient town are breathtaking. No visit to Shanghai is complete without visiting Zhujiajiao.
Another well preserved water town is the town of Tongli. Located 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Suzhou City, Tongli has a history of more than 1,000 years. Occupying an area of over 63 square kilometers (24 square miles), Tongli is crisscrossed with canals, and dotted with traditional Chinese gardens. Each of Tongli's canals can be crossed by using one of the dozens of ancient stone bridges. Each bridge is unique in Tongli and adds to the charm of the town. Tongli is a great place to unwind, relax in one of its many teahouses and watch the water taxis float by.
Located south of the Yangtze River, 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) north of Tongxian City, Wuzhen proudly displays its two thousand years of history in its stone bridges, polished stone pathways and ancient buildings. What makes Wuzhen unique is its design. The village is 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) long and is divided into six unique districts: Traditional Workshop District, Traditional Local Dwellings District, Traditional Culture District, Traditional Food District, Customs District, and the Traditional Shopping District. By wandering these districts, you can enjoy an atmosphere in which times seems to have stood still.