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Zhouzhuang is the oldest and most popular of several water towns that specialize in romantic day tours in the Yangzi River Delta. Situated within 40 miles of Suzhou and Shanghai, Zhouzhuang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides an intensely idyllic image of Old Cathay, complete with traditional residences, intertwined waterways, and 14 arched stone bridges. For nearly 900 years this water village was a major shipping point for rice, silk, and ceramics from the Delta to Shanghai and Suzhou. The chief remains of this legacy lie along the banks of the Shide and Yongan streams that majestically intertwine at Double Bridge (Shuang Qiao). The ...

Zhouzhuang is the oldest and most popular of several water towns that specialize in romantic day tours in the Yangzi River Delta. Situated within 40 miles of Suzhou and Shanghai, Zhouzhuang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides an intensely idyllic image of Old Cathay, complete with traditional residences, intertwined waterways, and 14 arched stone bridges. For nearly 900 years this water village was a major shipping point for rice, silk, and ceramics from the Delta to Shanghai and Suzhou. The chief remains of this legacy lie along the banks of the Shide and Yongan streams that majestically intertwine at Double Bridge (Shuang Qiao). The two bridges resemble an ancient key-and lock, the east-west bridge with a round arch and the north-south bridge with a square arch. South of Double Bridge is Zhang's Residence, a Ming Dynasty trader's mansion with six courtyards and 70 rooms and boat access in the back. Downstream, at Fu'an Bridge, a single-arch crossing point built in 1355, stands Shen's Residence, a Qing Dynasty complex with seven courtyards, 100 rooms, and elegant furnishings, including ancient musical instruments. Fu'an Bridge includes towers containing tea rooms, cafes, and shops. Zhouzhuang houses over a thousand of its fishing and handicraft artifacts in a small museum. Quanfu Pagoda, built in 1987, hides the city water tower, topped by an observation platform. The town's major shrine is Chengxu Temple, a thousand-year-old Song Dynasty Taoist complex near South Lake, where wooden sailboats can be hired. Nightfall is an excellent time to enjoy a boat trip down the town's lighted riverway and experience some Middle Kingdom magic.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Zhouzhuang, known as Zhenfang Lane in ancient times, is located southeast of the city of Suzhou and to the southwest of Kunshan
  • Language: Mandarin and English
  • Currency: Yuan
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Weekends and Chinese holidays are crowded year around. Summers are very humid, making early spring and late fall ideal times to visit.