Zhou Zhuang is the oldest as well the top watery town in China. Its location is between Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou. You can visit Zhou Zhuang by bus both from Shanghai or Suzhou. There is no airport in Zhou Zhuang, hence first you have to land in Hongqiao or Pudong airport of Shanghai. As the location is approximately closed to Shanghai, it’s suitable for doing day trip to Zhou Zhuang from Shanghai. Even you have sufficient time, it’s suggested for you to stay one night at Zhou Zhuang then back on the next day to have the night scenery of Zhou Zhuang
Below are options for you to take bus from both Shanghai and Suzhou :
A. From Shanghai
B. From Suzhou
I, myself take the bus from Shanghai indoor stadium mrt Exit 6. After the exit, cross the road, and you will see the bus stop. You have to go straight on the bus terminal into the building where you can purchase the ticket on the ground floor and take the bus on the first floor. During that day, there is only 1 departure schedule as well return, which depart at 9:30 AM and return at 16:00. The bus itself is convenient and have aircon inside.
Perhaps as it is weekday, hence less people will go to Zhou Zhuang compared to weekend. Departure time to there during my time takes about 2.5 hours, more 1 hour compared to the information given, which might be due to traffic especially in Shanghai, and since our bus stop first in Tongli bus station as some of the guests stop here instead of going to Zhou Zhuang. Distance between Tongli and Zhou Zhuang is approximately 30 minutes journey.
The bus stop at Fuquiqiao parking lot, where other bus stop here as well and this is also the meeting point to return back to Shanghai. We arrive there approximately 11.30 AM, hence it’s also the lunch time. There are several specialities in Zhou Zhuang like : Wenshan style roasted pork hooves, wild shrimps, white fish, barbel, steamed eels and crabs. For my lunch at that day, I was ordering oyster cooked with tofu, white fish and for sure crab as November is also crab season in Shanghai hence it’s very popular for having crabs during this time. My choice of having crab of that day is really an excellent choice as the crab having savoury egg inside the shell. For crab, it’s accompanied with the sauce with ginger taste. The white fish serve is nice, but there are a lot of fine fish bones inside hence you have to be careful when having the fish. As for the oyster served with tofu is served first and nice. As the portion is quite huge, I am not bothering to order rice and it’s quite full even without rice.
There is one entrance not far from Fuquiqiao parking lot, just accross the street and walk through small park. As the ticket already include the entrance, I just need to show my bus ticket. The same ticket you will also need when you return to Shanghai as the tickets divided into several parts for departure, return and entrance. Please note, sometimes when you visit some places inside Zhang hall of residence, they will ask for your ticket for checking.
Just a few walk from the entrance, there is Shen Wansan riverbed tomb on the left side.
Shops nearby the entrance same as many stores outside and inside the area selling the Wenshan style roasted pork hooves, but as I am still full, hence no opportunity to try this during my trip. However, it’s looks tempting.
The scenery of Zhou Zhuang, as watery town looks nice. There are others watery town nearby or inside Shanghai as well like Zhujiajiao and Tongli as well. Zhou Zhuang also being named as Venice of Oriental for its scenery compared to Italy’s watery town.
Zhou Zhuang itself can be explored by walking through the road or across bridges while enjoying the scenery.
In addition to walking, you can enjoy Zhou Zhuang by taking the boat which takes you a long the canal with affordable price of 100 RMB for one boat that can accomodate up to 7 people.
It’s a nice experience for having the boat to go a long Zhou Zhuang with different view from the river itself.
While having the trip on the boat, the boatman will ask you whether you would like to be accompanied with traditional song with some fees. Should you agree, the boatman will sing it for you.
The boat trip will end at the other end, not return to the departure point, hence it’s time for you to go on walk to continue the journey else you have to pay another ticket to go back to initial point.
From the arrival point, you can walk while seeing around the shops or should you are hungry, there are plenty of restaurants which mostly serve the same type of food. Even the menu used put in front are the same.
Zhou Zhuang area is a commercialized as lots of people coming here especially during the weekend. However you can still see some sights without additional charge for sight seeing like Chengxu Taoist temple, also known as Sanctity hall opposite Puqing bridge.
Another interesting place is also Zhang’s house, originally known as Yi Shun Tang. It was built by Xu Kui, the younger brother of Xuda, king of Zhongshan in the early 14 century in the Ming Dynasty. It was then sold to Zhang’s family in the 16th century.
In Zhou Zhuang area, there are different type of handicraft made, starting from comb, painting, drawing, weaving include bamboo weaving. Some are very unique, where the painting is put inside the glass and you can request your name to be included as well inside.
Once you are tired of walking, perhaps it’s a good idea to rest in cafe inside the watery town. Various option available, from western type, illy espresso cafe you will be able to find here, or more traditional drink place beside the walking way. When you are here, please try Grandma’s tea, a specialist tea from here. The smell of the tea is excellent, and it consist of green tea with additional flowers mix inside the tea. The price is 30 RMB which also include bean as snack. You can ask for additional hot water many times you want without additional charge. Should you not know Chinese, don’t worry as they provide also the menu in English with the price stated inside. It’s good to have cup of tea while enjoying the scenery.
It’s nearly time to go back parking area to wait for the bus which also means the last time to look around any interesting things to shop.
The bus depart exactly as the time informed before at 16.00 PM in the same place where drops us earlier and the journey going back to Shanghai indoor stadium is only 1,5 hours compared with 2,5 hours when going here in the morning with one of the reason as guests from Tongli had joined us, so no need to go back to Tongli first.