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Luzhi – A Charming Water Town Near Suzhou

O'er a small bridge,
By a stream running,
Villagers’ homes nestling.
– Ma Zhiyuan

Luzhi Water Town, one among many in the Suzhou area, featuring many well-preserved old houses and ancient bridges, alleys, and celebrities. Located 18 km east of downtown Suzhou, and about 58 km west of Shanghai, Luzhi has a wide array of rivers, bridges.

  • Transport: 1.5 hours' drive from Shanghai; 50-minute drive from Suzhou
  • Recommended visiting time: 4 hours
  • Suitable for: everyone
  • English signs: not many
  • History: about 1,500 years

Why We Recommend Luzhi

Luzhi Water Town

Famous for its charming waterways and ancient bridges, Luzhi is one of the best-preserved old towns in China, with its old canals and streets. A walk around the ancient town is said to be a walk into history frozen in time, tranquil and serene.

  • Luzhi has preserved much of its architectural heritage. The oldest edifice in present-day Luzhi, Baosheng Temple, was built in 503 AD. And some of its bridges date back to the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD).
  • You will find an ancient village here which, like a handful of other villages in China, might be called a living museum, in the sense that life is lived pretty much the same as it always has been.
  • A little busy during weekends, Luzhi compares favorably for quietness to Zhouzhuang Water Town. 

Explore the Highlights

There are 4 major highlights in Luzhi that we highly recommend you explore.

1. Baosheng Temple

Baosheng Temple

Baosheng Temple was built in 503 AD – as indicated earlier, during the Liang dynasty (502–556 AD) of the Southern Dynasties Period (420–588 AD) – making it over 1,500 years old. By the time of the Song dynasty it was called Baosheng Zen Temple.

The arhat statues in the temple are national treasures, which allegedly stem from the mid-Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). According to some, albeit not exactly confirmed, sources, the Tang dynasty sculptor Yang Huizhi created these exquisite arhats.

Other prominent features of Baosheng Temple include a Tang-dynasty stone pillar, a Northern-Song-dynasty (960-1279 AD) stone flagpole, a Ming-dynasty (1368–1644 AD) temple hall, an iron bell from the Qing dynasty (1644–1911 AD), and an ancient, 1500-year-old, 50-meter tall ginkgo tree.

The temple also houses the tomb of Lu Guimeng, or Mr. Puli, the town's earlier namesake. It is located on Fu Cheng Lu (Fu Cheng Road, aka Pucheng Road), a block or so north of Wansheng Rice Shop.

2. Wansheng Rice Shop

Wansheng Rice Shop

The Wansheng Rice Shop, on Fu Cheng Road/Pucheng Road not far from Baosheng Temple, is the former business establishment of a pair of the ancient town's rice merchants.

The shop serves both as a present-day rice-distribution center for Luzhi and as a museum where antique implements used in planting, cultivation and harvesting, as well as in threshing and winnowing the rice, are on display.

3. The Former Residence of Shen

The Former Residence of Shen Bohan is a well-preserved luxury residence in the ancient town of Luzhi. Covering an area of more than 3,500㎡, only the west part of the residence, which has been renovated, is open.

  • Shen Bohan
  • was an educator who lived in the town of Puli during the late Qing dynasty. He eventually opened the town's first elementary school, Puli Primary School. He studied at Waseda University in Japan, specializing in pedagogy. His former residence is located on Xiang Hua Long ("Fragrant Flower Lane").

4. Costume

Women's Dress in Luzhi

The traditional – but updated to modern standards – costume worn by village women almost became a uniform. The multi-piece costume, of cotton fabric, is put together in contrasting colors, with blue – usually a medium to dark blue – as the dominant color.

The women in Luzhi wear a jacket buttoned smartly down the side, with a pair of dark trousers in a contrasting blue.

An apron is worn over the trousers, tied back with ribbon-like straps which, like a tail, hang freely, extending to the back of the knees, with red and/or green tassels customarily on their tips. As for footwear, they wear a pair of softly contoured, embroidered slippers.
In general, a Luzhi woman's dress is suitable for women in water towns to engage in productive labor and has high practical value.

  • Luzhi Water Town was recognized in 2003 by the government of the PRC as one of "Ten Famous Historical Townships in China".
  • In 2004, Luzhi received a Township Preservation Award from UNESCO, and in 2008, Luzhi was specifically mentioned on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Cultural Heritage Sites (The Ancient Waterfront Towns South of the Yangtze River), together with other water towns in the area such as Nanxun, Tongli, Wuzhen, Xitang and Zhouzhuang.

How to Get to Luzhi

Corridor

Please note:though departure times are given below, it is best to check locally, or with your travel agent, to gain a more precise picture of your options.

1. Shanghai–Luzhi (2.5 hours)

  • Shuttle buses: depart daily from Shanghai Zhongshan Bus Station every hour from 7.30 am
  • Line coach: depart daily from Shanghai Yangpu Sports Center (7:30 am), Hongkou Football Court (8:00 am) and Shanghai Stadium (8:30 am)

2. Suzhou–Luzhi (1.5 hours)

  • Bus No. 518: departs daily from Suzhou Railway Station in the time slot 6.30–8.30 am

3. Tongli–Luzhi (1 hour)

There are daily long-distance buses (departure times not given) from Tongli to Luzhi, either for those wishing to overnight at Tongli and then visit Luzhi, or for those wishing to visit both towns in one day.

Best Time to Visit Luzhi

The scenery in Luzhi is suitable for a visit all year round. Beware, however, that compared with other water towns in the area such as Nanxun, Tongli, Wuzhen, Xitang and Zhouzhuang, Luzhi is a little busy at weekends.

  • Admission Fee: 78 RMB
  • Opening Times: 8:00 – 17:30

Accommodation

Street in Luzhi

There are about 40 hotels and hostels in and around Luzhi, with different standards. The star-rated hotels include Ramada Suzhou Luzhi, Starway Hotel Luzhi Ancient Town Suzhou and Vienna Hotel. Ranking slightly lower, the Qitianyangguang Hotel, Rujia Budget Hotel and Hualong Guesthouse are popular.

In addition, there are also some private dwellings and rooms for rent in Luzhi, with prices ranging from 100 to 600 RMB. They tend to be simple, but clean, and most certainly fulfill the requirement of "a place to crash out" should you decide on the spur of the moment that you would like to spend more time in Luzhi.

Most hotels in Tongli are well-equipped with modern facilities like western style toilets, wi-fi, phone and television. Some high-end hotels cost about 600 RMB per room per night.

Food in Luzhi

Puli Trotters

  • Puli Trotters and Puli Duck:

Both trotters and duck are reputed to be recipes from the hand of the poet and agrarian "Mr. Puli" himself, Lu Guimeng. It is said that he was fond of serving both Puli Trotters and Puli Duck to his closest friends.

  • Luzhi Radish: a kind of pickled radish prepared according to a recipe from the Qing dynasty.

Recommended Itinerary in Luzhi

Baosheng Temple – Ye Shengtao Memorial Hall – the Former Residence of Shen – Wansheng Rice Shop – Jiangnan Culture Garden (including two museums of historical relics and women dress in water towns) – the Former Home of Xiao – Wang Tao Memorial Hall

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