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Wuzhen Water Town: One of the Most Beautiful China Watertowns

Wuzhen Water Town (乌镇 in Chinese) is in northern Zhejiang Province, China. It is a charming ancient town with a history of 1300 years. Wuzhen is famously one of the top six ancient towns in South China. It has been listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

Wuzhen Water Town sits amongst three of China’s most well-known cities, Suzhou, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. It is about 87 miles (140 kilometers) away from Shanghai and 50 miles (80 kilometers) away from Suzhou and Hangzhou. Make sure you pay a visit during your trip to these cities.

The water town is divided into four sections by the crisscross waterways, Dongzha (east section), Xizha, (west section), Nanzha (south section), and Beizha (north section). Among them, Dongzha and Xizha are the most developed, hence the most popular among tourists.

Since ancient times, Wuzhen Water Town has always been known as a fertile land with abundant rice, fish, and silk. It preserves its ancient Jiangnan architecture with black bricks and white walls. Walking along the banks, you’ll feel like you’re walking inside a Chinese ink wash painting. Every so often, you’ll see stone bridges, small boats with black awnings above the water.

Fast Facts about Wuzhen Water Town

  • Location: Wuzhen, Tongxiang, Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, China
  • Hours: Dongzha 7:00 – 17:00, Xizha 9:00 – 22:00
  • Ticket price: Dongzha CNY 110, Xizha CNY 150, CNY 190 for a combined ticket
  • Visit time: 1-2 days
  • Best time of the year: March to May or September to November
  • Suited to: history lovers, photographers, couples, families

 

Haznghou Wuzhen Water Town Night View
Night View of Wuzhen Water Town

What to See and Do in Wuzhen Water Town

Dongzha or the East Scenic Zone

Dongzha in Wuzhen Water Town is the perfect place to learn about traditional Jiangnan culture during your Shanghai tour. There are lots of museums, exhibitions, and folk performances. For navigation, you’ll find a map of the scenic zone at the entrance.

The Ancient Bed Museum is the first museum to collect and showcase ancient beds in China. You’ll notice a drastic difference from the furniture you might be familiar with. The Folk Custom Museum introduces local traditions like birthday celebrations and wedding ceremonies. There are also the Blue Calico Museum and Yu Liuliang Coin Museum.

Walking around the scenic area, you’ll have the chance to witness traditional crafts like woodcarving, bamboo weaving, and indigo dyeing. Lively folk performances at different locations are held throughout the day, including shadow plays, Huagu Opera, and boat martial arts.

Xizha or the West Scenic Zone

Xizha in Wuzhen Water Town is famous for its bridge-in-bridge scene. The unique sight is created by the intersecting Tongji Bridge and Renji Bridge. This architectural spectacle is a specialty of Jiangnan water towns in China.

The Foot-Binding Museum displays over 500 pairs of shoes. It gives insights into the foot binding history in the region. Another interesting spot to visit is the sauce and pickle workshop. Observe traditional local techniques and taste a range of sauces and pickles. The Temple of General Wu is also in Xizha. It is dedicated to the general who died during war.

Boat rides along the waterways

One of the best ways to explore Wuzhen Water Town is to take a boat ride along the waterways. There are a number of boat types to choose from, such as black-awning boats, gondolas, and rowboats. Take your time journeying past the ancient architectures, stone bridges, wooden houses, shops, and workshops lining the riverbanks.

Taking a boat ride at night will definitely be a highlight of your Shanghai or Hangzhou tour. If you’re spending a night in the water town, there are hotels both inside and outside the scenic zones. Sitting in a boat, you’ll see string lights glimmering on the ancient roofs, being reflected in the water. There are also plenty of bars and shops to explore at night.

Local delicacies

Along the riverbanks, there are plenty of shops and stalls run by locals selling traditional dishes like deep-fried stinky tofu served with chili sauce, braised pork cooked with soy sauce, sugar, wine, and spices. Try Wuzhen rice wine, a traditional alcoholic beverage made from glutinous rice.

 

West Scenic Area of Wuzhen Water Town
West Scenic Area of Wuzhen Water Town

Best Time to Visit Wuzhen Water Town

The best time to travel to Wuzhen Water Town from Shanghai or Hangzhou is either during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November). Zhejiang weather is very pleasant during these seasons with occasional mist and drizzle in spring and clear skies and cool breeze in autumn.

You might also be in luck for cultural events in Wuzhen like the Wuzhen Theatre Festival, Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition, and Wuzhen Dialogue.

It’s important to note that summers can get quite hot and crowded in Wuzhen Water Town. The narrow lanes can get packed with tourists during July, August, China public holidays, and weekends.

How to Get to Wuzhen Water Town

Travel to Wuzhen Water Town from Shanghai

Catch a high-speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Tongxiang Railway Station (around 40 minutes). Then take bus N0. K282 to Wuzhen Bus Station (around 50 minutes). Or you can board a direct bus service from Shanghai South Bus Station or Shanghai Long-Distance Bus Station. It takes about 2 hours to reach Wuzhen Bus Station.

Travel to Wuzhen Water Town from Hangzhou

Take a high-speed train from Hangzhou East Railway Station to Tongxiang Railway Station (about 20 minutes). And then transfer for bus No. K282 to Wuzhen Bus Station (around 50 minutes). Another option is to board a direct bus from Hangzhou North Bus Station or Hangzhou Jiubao Passenger Transport Center. The bus ride takes about 1 hour to Wuzhen Bus Station.

Travel to Wuzhen Water Town from Suzhou

Take a high-speed train from Suzhou Railway Station to Tongxiang Railway Station (around 30 minutes). And then transfer to bus No. K282, which will take you to Wuzhen Bus Station in about 50 minutes. Or you can take a direct bus service from Suzhou North Bus Station or Suzhou South Bus Station. It takes around 2 hours to Wuzhen Bus Station.

Attractions nearby Wuzhen Water Town

  • Wucun is an ancient village adjacent to Wuzhen which preserves its authentic rural lifestyle and culture. You’ll see ancient houses, farms, temples, and ponds.
  • Muxin Art Museum is dedicated to the renowned Chinese writer and artist, Muxin, who was born in Wuzhen. Located inside Xizha, this museum exhibits his paintings, calligraphy, manuscripts, and personal belongings.
  • Feng Zikai Memorial honors the celebrated Chinese painter, writer, and educator who lived in Tongxiang. You can see his artworks, books, letters, and photographs.
  • Nanxun Water Town located in Zhejiang Province, is another water town nearby Shanghai. It is usually less crowded or commercialized than Wuzhen Water Town, with elegant gardens, mansions, bridges, and canals.

Recommended Tours to Wuzhen Water Town

 

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