The Zhujiajiao Water Town is a well-preserved historic city close to Shanghai in China. In this destination guide, we’ll explain what you need to know about visiting!
The modern China is more about skyscrapers and big malls than about history and culture. There are obviously a few exceptions, including the fascinating and famous Chinese Wall or some remainings of Portuguese influences in Macau. Another one is the Zhujiajiao Water Town, which is one of many more of its kind throughout the country. Mainly we’re speaking of small villages with a distinctive traditional and cultural atmosphere located close to major metropolises. In the case of the Zhujiajiao Water Town, you can either take a car (between 30 and 120 minutes depending on traffic and location) or the metro to get here (it’s the second last stop of metro line 17).
The thing about visiting a water town in China is that those happen to be really crowded, especially on weekends. Thus, I’d recommend visitig early in the morning to avoid crowds. That’s also what I did, allowing me to get a feeling for the little town without too many other people around.
Particularly, I enjoyed the parts of town, which are a little less touristic, but still feel historic and atmospheric thanks to the combination of old buildings and the river arms.
The narrow streets are charming and so are the various different squares and small walkaways along the rivers of Zhujiajiao, a historic city with a total of 36 stone bridges, all different and one of a kind.
What’s quite interesting for tourists as well are the many shops in Zhujiajiao, you can buy everything from trashy souvenirs to local food to spices and much more.
Nevertheless, these things don’t make Zhujiajiao particularly special as you can basically get those all over China. It also takes a bit of the charm away that there are big brands like Starbucks or more modernist shopping malls located inside the historic old town.
If you’re visiting during the weekend and particularly at noon or in the afternoon, you won’t be able to take any nice picture of Fengshen Bridge, which is often considered the main attraction of Zhujiajiao.
It’s the biggest of the historic bridges in town and stretches over the main arm of the river. This allows for nice views of the historic town and its location by the river.
Particularly on the two sides of the river near Fengshen Bridge, you can spot various different historic buildings with charming decoration.
Sure, it all feels a bit fake, particularly as all of these historic buildings have been converted into shops or restaurants, but it’s still a nice view and gets you an idea of how Zhujiajiao Water Town must have looked back in the days.
As you’d expect, it’s also possible to have a boat cruise on this and other parts of the river(s) in Zhujiajiao, but those are rather short and somewhat disappointing.
Nevertheless, checking out Fengshen Bridge and the historic core of Zhujiajiao around the historic bridge is definitely a must when visiting town.
Aside from just walking around town and enjoying the atmosphere as well as walking over the Fengshen Bridge, I’d recommend checking out two other popular monuments in town.
I’m speaking of the Yuanjin Buddhist Temple, which has a unique exterior and is one of the spiritual centres of Zhujiajiao Water Town.
Another one is the Town God Temple, which is also worth having a look at.
Other than that, I’d recommend just walking around in the somewhat less touristic parts of town as those tend to be particularly charming.
Not so much are the areas, which you’ll find when leaving the historic old town…
Nevertheless, I think that walking through the narrow streets and along the little rivers in Zhujiajiao is a really nice experience.
Zhujiajiao Water Town is a nice place to escape the big city life in Shanghai with its many skyscrapers. While I really enjoyed walking through the streets and along the rivers in the morning hours, I wouldn’t recommend visiting during the day or on weekends due to the constant crowding, which is taking away the charm. So, if you want to go to Zhujiajiao, definitely schedule a visit early in the morning or in the early evening hours and you’ll be fine. I’m sure that you’ll really enjoy visiting the Water Town if you choose the right time to visit!
Do you have any questions about Zhujiajiao? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!