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The top water towns of China are Zhouzhuang Water Town,Luzhi Water Town and Tongli Water Town near Suzhou, and Xitang Water Town and Wuzhen Water town near Hangzhou. An ancient Chinese saying goes: In heaven there is paradise, and on earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou. These four water towns are indispensable parts of the enchanting scenery of Suzhou and Hangzhou. They are all easily accessible from the biggest metropolis of China, Shanghai. Hundreds of years of history, Chinese-ink-painting-like-scenery, traditional houses built on waterways and interesting folk customs are their comment features, while they have unique attributes distinguishing them from each other.


Zhouzhuang, a "water town" (canal town) like the neighboring water town of Tongli, lies between Lake Tai and Shanghai, about 55 kilometers southeast of Suzhou on the southern shore of Lake Baixian, through which the Baixian River runs. On Lake Baixian's eastern shore lies Shanghai West Golf Club. There are lakes on all four sides of Zhouzhang, albeit, the town is only contiguous with Lake Baixian. The entire area immediately south and east of Suzhou is dotted with lakes, large and small, and crisscrossed by rivers. Some of the towns, such as Zhouzhang, are further crisscrossed by a network of canals that connect to the rivers and lakes, earning them the moniker "water town". » Read More


Tongli is surrounded by five lakes: Jiuli, Nanxing, Pangshan, Yeze and, of course, Lake Tongli, and is crisscrossed by a network of canals that are fed by the confluence of three rivers. Fishermen of Tongli fish the lakes here using cormorants, an ancient and effective custom that has been the subject of a program on National Geographic Magazine's TV channel. Most of the buildings in Tongli are situated along the waterways, hence the city's nickname as the Little Venice of the East. » Read More


The scenery here is just like a painting, and the photos you take will all be like paintings no matter which way your camera points. It is even better if it rains. This is why Xitang was chosen as the set for Mission Impossible III. The ceilinged corridors are most famous, and family hotels are also special. Xitang people are even more beautiful than the scenery. You may meet a beauty who is just like the beauties in the paintings on a bridge or at the corner of a stone road. » Read More


As its name ("Black Town") suggests, most decorated archways in Wuzhen are black. There is an "East Village" and a "West Village" in Wuzhen. East Village is mainly for tourism. However, in order not to make it too commercialized, all the houses except for several spots beside the roads are closed. West Village is a district mainly for tourist accommodation. There are all kinds of inns and hotels here. West Village is best seen at night. It is said that the lighting here is wonderful. Among all the beautiful water towns south of the Yangtze River, Wuzhen has become especially noted for its history and culture. » Read More


Luzhi Water Town, another Suzhou area water town, is located 18 kilometers east of downtown Suzhou, just beyond the S5 Changjia Expressway in Suzhou's Wuzhong District, and about 58 kilometers west of Shanghai. Luzhi was the location of an unknown (unnamed?) village before the village became a water town (though the waterways that crisscross the town are called rivers, they are in fact dug canals). » Read More


As a typical water town in Jiangnan area, Nanxun Water Town is less touched by travelers. If you want to avoid joining in crowded people, it is a great water town to visit. Situated at the south bank of the Tai Lake in Huzhou city of Zhejiang Province, it is the only ancient town that has western and traditional Chinese houses and gardens.

Established in the 13th Century, Nanxun is famous for its natural scenery and historic relics. Xiaolian Garden (Little Lotus Villa), Former Residence of Zhangjingjiang, and Jiaye Tang Library are hot attractions in Nanxun water town. With a convenient transport, it can be easily reached from Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing. Nanxun was a rich town as a lot of rich people got together there in the ancient times.

Address: No. 38 Shiyuan Road, Nanxun Town, Huzhou
Work hours: 8:00-17:00
Ticket fee: 100 CNY
Transport: Bus 101 in Huzhou can bring travelers to Nanxun Ancient Town with a 3-hour journey.


Mudu Ancient Town has a more than a 2500 years history which is as long as the history of Suzhou City. During the Spring and Autumn Period and The Warring States, it is said that Fuchai, the king of Wu Kingdom, obliged workers to construction a grand palace in order to please Xishi, one of top 4 ancient beauties in China. The river was blocked by a large number of woods, so the town got its name Mudu which means woods block.

Traditional gardens and streets, quiet river and small bridges, and rich historical and cultural relics are the highlights of Mudu Ancient Town. There are more than 30 typical private gardens of the Ming and Qing Dynasties consisting of the Yans’ Garden, Hongyin Villa and Bangyan Mansion and Ancient Pine Garden.

Address: 10 meters southwest of Suzhou
Work hours: 08:00-16:30 (November - March) and 08:00-17:00 (April - October)
Ticket fee: 60 CNY
Transport: There are dozens of buses to reach Mudu Water Town including Tourism 4, Bus 43, 63, 312, 315, 502, 505, 511, 622, 661, 662, and 666.


Due to geography advantages, Zhujiajiao is a popular destination in Shanghai. Nearby beautiful Dingshan Lake, it is located in Qingpu district of Shanghai. With a long history, the town was listed into top 4 historical and cultural ancient towns of Shanghai in 1991. As a traditional Chinese water town, it is very easy to reach in Shanghai. So it is a hot family destination for Shanghai people at weekends.

Ancient bridges, North Street and Ke Zhi Yuan (Course Plant Garden) are popular attractions in Zhujiajiao Ancient Town. To take a boat along the ancient town is a cozy and wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of Zhujiajiao. If you want to have a short holiday in Shanghai, Zhujiajiao Ancient Town is a great place to visit.

Address: 36 Meizhou Road, Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District
Work hours: 8:30-17:00
Ticket fee: Free
Transport: Songzhu Express Bus, Huzhu Express Bus and Hushang Express Bus can reach Zhujiajiao Antient Town.


Located at 25 miles away from Suzhou, Guangfu Ancient Town is one of popular historical and cultural water towns in Jiangsu Province. On the bank of the Tai Lake, it has a more than 2500 years history. Guangfu has a beautiful mountain called Dengwei Mountain in the southern Town, so it is also called Dengwei. It is a great destination to photography ancient Chinese water town and one of the birthplaces of exquisite Suzhou embroidery.

In late winter or early spring, Dengwei Mountain is full of colorful plum blossoms. Due to the magnificent plum blossoms, it has a reputation of Xiangxuehai (Fragrant Snow Sea). Travelers can also visit Guangfu Temple, Guangfu Pagoda, and Ancient Situ Cypress.

Address: 28 miles in the western Suzhou City
Work hours: 8:00—16:30
Ticket fee: 60 CNY
Transport: Bus 43, 63 and 64 can reach the Guangfu Ancient Town.


Anchang Ancient Town is one of top 4 ancient towns in Shaoxing of Zhejiang Province. Built in the Northern Song Dynasty, Anchang has well preserved ancient houses of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. As a typical water town in Jiangnan, unforgettable weddings on the water are very popular in Anchang Ancient Town. It is a peaceful and romantic place for a wedding and honeymoon. And Anchang was the hometown of Shaoxing consultants in the Qing Dynasties.

Culture and customs of Shaoxing is well preserved in Anchang Ancient Town. Anchang has annual Layue (the 12th month of Chinese lunar calendar) Festival to show local culture and customs since 2000. There are all kinds of celebrations including Water Town Drama, Welcome Bride on the Boat, Folk wedding, Temple Fair and traditional handicraft art performance. Travelers can take part in the activities or photography the grand Layue Festival.

Address: Shaoxing County, Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province
Work hours: 8:30—17:00
Ticket fee: 50 CNY
Transport: Travelers can take Bus 118 to Anchang Grand Hotel and have a short walk to the ancient town.