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Xitang Water Town – A Dreamlike Wonderland near Suzhou

Located at the junction of Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province and Shanghai, Xitang is an ancient and quiet water town, completely different from the hustle and bustle of nearby Shanghai.

Xitang Water Town

  • Transport: From Suzhou, take a bus from the South Bus Station, before walking about an hour to the scenic area.
  • History: over 1,000 years
  • Visiting time: 2 days
  • Suitable for: all people
  • English signs: not many
  • Features: beautiful scenery, abundant natural and cultural resources

Why We Recommend Xitang

Cobbled streets wind through the town, old buildings stand along the waterside, plain bridges cross the canals, and rowing boats linger on the river.

In the early morning, there is fresh air and light fog; in the evening, the setting sun casts a rosy glow on the old tiled roofs, and the reflection of glistening lights flickers on the water. All of this makes Xitang like an ink wash painting with dramatic scenery.

Explore the Highlights

Bridge

1. Bridges

In Xitang, waterways are interwoven and divide the town into 8 areas, connected by 104 bridges. With a history of nearly 600 years, the bridges in different styles reflect the characteristics of many bridges south of the Yangtze River.

Besides, beautiful legends about the well-preserved bridges still circulate among locals. The masterly craftsmanship with which they were made provides a feast for the eyes. Exquisite bridges are scattered above the waterways, like flaring clusters of diamonds on the neck of the old town.

Covered Corridor

2. Covered Corridor

The most unique feature of Xitang, distinguishing it from other water towns, is its covered corridor. This is a tile-roofed footpath built along the waterside, more than 1,000 meters long, providing shelter for people from the scorching sunlight or rain.

The corridor’s elegance, vintage and carved decorative patterns create the illusion of living in times past. Long benches are situated on the waterside of the corridor, facilitating a leisurely rest.

3. Lanes

There are many ancient lanes in Xitang, long and short, wide and narrow, connecting streets, waterways, and houses. Each lane has its own name.

Of all the 122 lanes paved with stone slates, Shipi is the most famous and best preserved, 68 meters long. It is about 1 meter wide at its widest and only 80 centimeters at its narrowest, with space for only one person to pass at a time.

4. Mission Impossible III and Xitang

In the movie Mission Impossible III, there is a scene in which Tom Cruise runs on the roofs of the buildings in an oriental ancient town. That scene was filmed in Xitang.

The film crew spent three days in Xitang, from November 24th to 26th, 2005, so if you are a fan of the film, it might be interesting when visiting Xitang to see where it was shot.

5. Food

Braised Pigs’ Feet

  • Braised Pigs’ Feet

This is a famous dish popular with locals. Because of its positive associations – having babies earlier, reunions and good luck – it is usually served on important occasions, such as weddings, moving house, and family reunions. Made with fresh pigs’ feet and dozens of condiments, through boiling, steaming and braising, the meat is soft and tender.

  • Shepherd's Purse Baoyuan

This is a dish similar to dumplings, made with thin sheets of bean curd, pork and the weed/vegetable shepherd's purse. Chopped pork and shepherd's purse is wrapped in thin sheets of bean curd, and steamed. The dish is fresh and soft, tasting even more delicious with local rice vinegar.

  • Boiled Edamame and Water Caltrop

First soak shelled edamame and water caltrop in hot water for some time, then boil them together. The dish not only looks good, but is also succulent and tender.

  • Eight Treasure Pastry

Made with sticky rice, white sugar and eight kinds of herb (from which it got its name), this is a famous pastry from the region south of the Yangtze River. Gray in color, it tastes sweet and crisp, and is good for the spleen and stomach.

6. Shopping

Xitang has a long history of producing yellow wine. There are more than 20 varieties, and it is renowned for its wildness, unique taste and high quality. It is therefore worth buying and can make a good gift.

How to Get to Xitang

Xitang

Take the high speed train from Hongqiao Railway Station to Jiashan South Railway Station, and change to bus K222 for the scenic area. Or take bus K702 to Jiashan Passenger Transport Center, change to bus K215 or K216 and get off at Xitang Bus Station. Then walk about 5 minutes to the scenic area.

Take a bus from the South Bus Station, before walking about an hour to the scenic area.

Take a bus from Transport Central Station to Jiashan, before taking bus K215 or K216. Get off at Xitang Bus Station and walk about 5 minutes to reach the scenic area.

  • From Nanjing:

Take the bullet train from Nanjing South Railway Station to Jiashan, before taking bus K215 or K216. Get off at Xitang Bus Station and then walk about 5 minutes to reach the scenic area.

Getting Around Xitang

Xitang Boat Tour

Xitang does not have motorized traffic, for motor vehicles are prohibited. The only available transport is by boat or on foot.

With China Travel: This will solve your problems, like not knowing Chinese, finding the bus or train station, going to a wrong station or town, and waiting. Our English-speaking guide and experienced driver will make your trip easy and fun, and serve your party only.

We pick you up at the place you tell us (hotel, cruise terminal, airport or train station) and guide you in Xitang, and then transfer you to the place you want to go: 1-Day Xitang Ancient Water Town Tour from Shanghai

Best Time to Visit

Xitang has different highlights in different seasons. April and May when the flowers – especially azaleas – are blossoming, are the most romantic months. And July is the best month for tasting crab. Most rain falls between September and November. Besides, there are far fewer tourists in December and January, so those two months are ideal for those who like to travel in relative peace. 

  • Admission Fee: CNY 100

Accommodation

Hotel with water town’s characteristics

There are two kinds of accommodation. On weekdays the price ranges from CNY 100 to CNY 300, but at weekends or on holidays the price will be higher.

1. Starred Hotels

There are many starred hotels in Xitang. Compared with those in big cities, their rooms are simpler, reflecting the water town’s characteristics. The most popular is Xitang Holiday Inn (three-star), near the Water Town entrance.

2. Waterfront Hostels

These hostels are built on the waterfront, so the beautiful scenery outside the windows is their distinctive feature, despite their plainness otherwise. They are cheaper than starred hotels.