Nanxun Ancient Town

Written by Sally Guo Updated Apr. 8, 2021

Nanxun is a soulful and profound water town with a history of over 1,400 years. It is the richest town in modern Chinese history and different from other small, girly water towns: the stone roads, bridges, and waterways are wide, and houses are big. The most special feature of it is, that its architecture mixes Chinese and Western styles.

Characters of Nanxun

When you enter the town, you will feel the profound water town history and be amazed by how civilized and rich it is. There are many attractions in this big water town. 

Top Things to Do in the Town

The following 6 highlights of Nanxun are highly recommended for you to explore.

1. Take a Boat Ride along the canal to appreciate its beauty.

Taking a relaxing boat ride along the canals to get an insight into the charm of the ancient town is a fantastic experience. A boat can accommodate up to 8 people. Boating price: Little Lotus Garden to/from Guanghui Palace: CNY 160 per boat; Little Lotus Garden to/from Lounge Bridge: CNY 280 per boat. 

2. Explore the Local Houses

These are houses of locals. Many owners still live there. The houses, one or two-story tenement dwellings, built along both sides of the canal stretching some 400 meters, date back some 400 years to the end of the 16th century, i.e. near the end of the Ming Dynasty.

They are characterized by their distinctive white walls and black-tiled roofs.

There are 100 residential houses. There are serve as a living museum in the sense that the ancient houses are still inhabited, and the residents wash their clothes in the canal just as they did 1400 years ago.

3. Visit the Little Lotus Garden

It is the former private garden of Nanxun's richest man. The centerpiece of the enormous garden compound, which comprises over 7,000 square meters, is a lotus pond.

Artificial streams run here and there throughout the large garden. There winding, in places tree-lined paths. and numerous smaller buildings surrounded by lawns, shrub oases, and flower gardens.

The garden is considered the best of Nanxun's private gardens. The lotus flowers in the pond blossom pink in the summer, creating a colorful, magical effect. The walls inside the buildings are adorned with paintings, plaques, and stelae that were the work of famous calligraphers, which points to another interesting detail about Nanxun Water Town:

4. Explore the Former Residence of Zhang Shiming

The house is a mixture of traditional Chinese and Western architectural styles. The owner was a wealthy merchant who introduced many foreign luxury goods to the people of Nanxun.

The entire area of the former residence, including its complementary garden, spans some 6140 square meters. 

The residence comprises numerous rooms, including salons, halls, studies, and bedrooms. Each room is designed in a separate style, yet the whole is one of harmony, reflecting the "organic" nature of the construction philosophy.

5. Discover The Spanish-Style Red Houses

This is the former residence of one of the wealthiest people in the town.

The buildings combine both, traditional Chinese architectural styles with Western styles. Sometimes the facade is in quintessential Chinese style, with the back of the building, in Western style.

 It has arched French windows and a second-story balcony that is supported by Greek columns, creating a gallery of sorts. This feature distinguishes the private gardens of Nanxun from all of the other private gardens of southern China, which makes them of particular interest.

6. Visit the Jiaye Hall Library

It is a private library. The library's collection of books and documents numbers some 600,000.

The library building is a mixture of both Chinese and Western styles. The facade of the library reflects a Western architectural style, but its rear portion, as well as the garden proper, is reminiscent of the layout of a typical scholar garden.  Three is a lotus pond surrounded by rockeries and pavilions, the whole connected by walkways, some of which are narrow corridors.

How to Get to Nanxun

By Bus:

City Bus Station Operation Time Cost Travel Time
Shanghai Shanghai Hutai Road Bus Station every hour (5:55-17:00) CNY 50 2.5 hours
Shanghai Bus Station 7:20; 10:20 CNY 50 2.5 hours
Hongqiao Bus Station 8:00-17:00 CNY 50 1.5 hours
Hangzhou Hangzhou North Bus Station 10 buses (8:00—17:30) CNY 45 2 hours
Suzhou Suzhou South Bus Station 6:30-18:10 CNY 25 1 hour
Suzhou North Bus Station every 30 minutes (6:10-17:40) CNY 25 1 hour

With China Travel

This will solve your problems, like not knowing Chinese, finding the bus or train station, going to the wrong station or town, and waiting. Our English-speaking guide who knows Nanxun well and our experienced driver will make your trip easy and fun, and serve your party only, on your tour day.

We pick you up at the place you tell us (hotel, cruise terminal, airport, or train station) guide you to Nanxun, and then transfer you to the place you want to go: 

1-Day Nanxun Water Town Tour From Shanghai

Best Time to Visit Nanxun

The scenery of Nanxun is suitable for a visit all year round.

Always avoid Chinese public holidays like National Day and Labor Day.

You Might Like to Read

You may get confused about which water town is the best to go to if you are the first time to visit, so we list all the water towns with detailed information for your inspiration:

Also read: the Best water towns close to Hangzhou, which one to visit?

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