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Wu Zhen Ancient Water Town

Chinese people say that unless you visit the Great Wall then you haven't been to China. For any visit south of the Yangtze River; one place not to be missed is the town of Wuzhen.

Wu Zhen, which is less than two hours from Shanghai, boasts the antiquity and charm of the popular Zhou Zhuang watertown, but remains surprisingly untouched by tourists, especially those from abroad. 
Beautifully carved beds

The ancient docks, waterside pavilions, and corridors stretch for miles creating a distinctive atmosphere that is typical of watertowns south of the Yangtze River - the perfect spot for a tranquil retreat.

Passing through the 200-year-old town gate, which was fully restored in 1999, visitors are transported back in time. From traditional rice wine to handspun cloth, wonders are awaiting the curious traveller in this peaceful borough. 

Wuzhen is a good place for a single day, . There are buses coming in and out from Shanghai stadium everyday. There are quite a number of places to see here, but the actual scenery area is quite small. A larger tourist area in the west is still under development. The river in the town is actually a canal, and water is being pumped in and out twice a week. Wuzhen is one of the six 'water towns' in Jiangnan (South-of-Yangtze-river-region), and it is one of the less developed one. The citizens in the town itself are not allowed to do any sort of business due to local government regulation (The government allowed people who are already doing business continuing their business, but if you are just living in the town, you can not change your house to a shop, or else you can imagine what will happen...). The government allowed So if you want to get a feel of what the original 'old town' looks like, you should visit this place. Here you can find some nice Chinese dish such as baishui fish and Wuzhen lamb.

Located in the centre of the six ancient towns south of Yangtze River, 17 kilometres (10.56 miles) north of the city of Tongxiang, Wuzhen displays its two-thousand-year history in its ancient stone bridges floating on mild water, its stone pathways between the mottled walls and its delicate wood carvings. Also, setting it apart from other towns, it gives a unique experience through its profound cultural background.

It is said that people have lived in Wuzhen for 7000 years and over time it has produced a galaxy of talents. Mao Dun, an outstanding modern Chinese writer, was born here and his masterpiece, 'The Lin's Shop', describes vividly the life of Wuzhen. In 1991, Wuzhen was authorized as the Provincial Ancient Town of History and Culture, so ranking first among the six ancient towns south of the Yangtze River.

Wuzhen's uniqueness lies in its layout, being 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) long and divided into six districts. These are: Traditional Workshops District, Traditional Local-Styled Dwelling Houses District, Traditional Culture District, Traditional Food and Beverage District, Traditional Shops and Stores District, and Water Township Customs and Life District. Wandering along the east-west-east circuit created by these six districts, you will enjoy the atmosphere of the traditional cultures and the original ancient features of the town that have been preserved intact.

The Former Residence of Mao Dun
Originally built in the central 19th century covering a total area of 650 square meters (7020 sq. ft), the former residence of Mao Dun, a well-known Chinese revolutionary writer, was the Mao family home for many generations and witnessed the growth of this great revolutionist and writer. Mao Dun is Chinese famous modern writer and sociologist. Originally named Shen Dehong, and with another name of Yanbing, Mao Dun has many pen names, the frequently used ones are Mao Dun, Xuan Zhu, Fang Bi, Zhi Jing, Pu Lao and Xing Tian.
  Mao Dun was born on July 4, 1896 in Tongxiang's Wuzhen Town. His father Shen Yongxi was a xiucai (one who passed the imperial examination at the county level)of the late Qing Dynasty (1616-1911). Shen Yongxi was an enlightened scholar, he was keen in reading and learning books of natural sciences, as well books which publicized progressive ideas. Chen Ai'zhu, Mao Dun's mother, was a literate woman with far-sight and strong character. Mao Dun lost his father at the age of ten and he was educated by his mother. In his works "The Road I Walked", Mao Dun wrote, "my first instructor is my mother."

Fanglu Pavilion (Pavilion of Visits to Lu)
Enjoying a well-deserved reputation as the best teahouse in Wuzhen, the pavilion obtained its name from an accidental meeting between Lu Tong, the owner, and Lu Yu, the Patron Saint of Tea in Tang Dynasty (618-907). It is said that Lu Yu once mistakenly ate some poisonous leaves and was rescued by Lu Tong, who happened to collect tea leaves at that time. In return, Lu Yun taught Lu Tong knowledge of tea and tea-making skills, which resulted in the prosperity of Lu Tong's teahouse. Suggested by one guest, Lu Tong changed the house's name to Pavilion of Visits to Lu, to memorize this respectable scholar. Located to the south of Ying Bridge and backing onto the city river, the teahouse enjoys a broad view of Guanqian Street and provides visitors with pleasant relaxation.

Bridge in Bridge
One may be amazed at the extraordinary scene of Bridge in Bridge created by two ancient bridges, one of which is Tongji Bridge crossing the river from east to west and the other is called Renji Bridge running from south to north and joining the former at one end. Either of two bridges can be seen through the arch of the other, hence the name. Having been rebuilt five times, Tongji Bridge is a 28.4-meter-long (93.1ft) and 3.5-meters-wide (11.4ft) one-curvature arch bridge, with a span of 11.8 meters (38.7ft). Renji Bridge, which has also experienced historical repairs, has a length of 22.6 meters (74.1ft), a width of 2.8 meters (9.2ft) and a span of 8.5 meters (27.9ft).

You may enjoy the demonstration in the traditional workshops district of such famous traditional crafts as the printing and dyeing of blue printed fabrics, the primitive technique of cloth shoes and tobacco-planing, and operate the machines yourself to get an idea of how the original work was carried out over 200 years ago. You may also walk amongst the picturesque moss-covered streets and walls, the houses decorated with exquisitely-carved wooden and stone doors and windows, and the leisurely and quiet life of the local people in the district of traditional local-styled dwelling houses. Sink into the atmosphere of traditional culture, have a cup of chrysanthemum tea and relax by bargaining on various kinds of handicrafts and local products. At dusk when the street lamps give off their dim lights in the thousand-year-old lanes, you will feel your every step echoing with the history of this ancient and attractive town of Wuzhen.

Accommodation is not hard to come by in Wuzhen. Wuzhen is a newly opened tourist destination. To meet the great lodging demand especially in peak season, many hotels, hotel inns has been buit in recent years. The main accommodation is in the " budget" level. In the town, there are only one star-grade hotel that is the Mid-night Hotel( add: No.3 Ziye Road, Wuzhen Town; tel: 0573-8716688). The hotel is in huge demand even in low travel season, so you'd better book in advance is you want to stay there.

Wuzhen Food
Wuzhen is a good place to well treat your mouth. Big restaurants and small street stalls offer a great variety of local flavors. In some old restaurants such as the Jiujiang lou and Shanyang Guan Restaurants visitors can try the famous local food Steamed Pork Slices with Glutinous Rice Flour Wrapped in Lotus. Travelers can also chooes to dine at one of the local's home, provided you know some Chinese. Food is simple but dining at a casual Chinese family's home may provide a quite different experience.

Best Time to Visit Wuzhen
As Wuzhen is situated in the center of the Hangjiahu Plain, it belongs to subtropical monsoon climate. It is warm and wet with a set of distinctive four seasons and abundant rainfall. The annual average temperature in Wuzhen is 16°C. The temperature in January is 3°C; the temperature in July is below 30°C. The annual precipitation is about 1200 millimeters. Many typhoons hit the region in the summer and autumn.

In my opinion, spring and autumn are the most beautiful seasons. The most beautiful moments are at dawn and at dusk. At dawn, mist will suffuse above the river, resembling a fairyland. At dusk, a vivid Wuzhen appears under the sunset.
Tips: you’d better stay in room at noon in summer in Wuzhen, because it is very hot outside.

Wuzhen Best Routes

One-day tour in Dongzha
The Fengyuan Double Bridges – Caishen Cove – One Hundred Beds Museum – Hongyuantai Dyehouse – Yuliuliang Chinese Ancient Coins Exhibition Hall – Former Residence of Maodun – the Ancient Stage in Wuzhen – Xiuzhen Temple – the Residence of Xiatongshan Academician – Fanglu Pavilion – Huiyuan Pawnshop – the site of Jiangzhe local government

Two-day Tour in Xizha 

The first day: Caomu Bense Dyehouse – Zhaoming Academy – Three- inch Golden Lotuses Exhibition Hall (women’s bound feet in feudal age) – the Old Post Office – Guandi Temple – General Wu’s Temple – Lingshui House – Maodun Memorial Hall – Maodun Graveyard – Xuchang Sauce and Pickle Garden

The second day: Stage on Water – Sanbai Wine Workshop – Northern Wetland – Yida Silk Workshop – Yingjia Bridge – Xiangshan Hall

Wuzhen provides visitors with a very convenient transport. Tour buses can be taken from Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Ningbo every day.
From Shanghai: On weekends or some major festivals, there are special-line buses departing from Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium at 8:00 am or Shanghai Stadium at 7:50, 8:45 am for Wuzhen. Shanghai Xiqu Bus Station also has some bus connections to Wuzhen and the ticket price is 30 yuan/per person. CNY 110 per person (return tickets, admission)
CNY 128 per person (return tickets, admission, tourist guide service)
From Hangzhou: There are no direct buses running between Hangzhou and Wuzhen, Visitors want to travel Wuzhen via bus journey has to make a transfer at Tongxiang. CNY 98 per person (return tickets, admission)
From Suzhou: CNY 150 per person (return tickets, admission, tourist guide service, insurance)
Nanxun-Wuzhen:Buses from Nanxun to Jiaxing all passing through Wuzhen.

Admission Fee: CNY 100 for Dongzha Scenic Area
CNY 120 for Xizha Scenic Area 
CNY 150 for Combination Ticket; 
Excluding the boat ticket:
CNY 80 (for 8 people) in Dongzha
CNY120 (day), CNY 150 (night) in Xizha for 6 people

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