In a small small town right outside of Suzhou (one of the major cities near Shanghai) lies a very renowned place called Zhouzhuang. Zhouzhuang is an ancient water town, like what Shanghai was maybe 800 years ago. It is surrounded by rivers and canals and the architecture still has not changed since ancient times. This is what makes Zhouzhuang so unique and beautiful. It is so beautiful, that when Marco Polo visited Zhouzhuang, he said it is the Venice of China. I have never been to Venice, but after being to Zhouzhuang, Venice must be very beautiful.
Zhouzhuang is kind of hidden away from the major surrounding cities, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, and Nanjing. I took a quick night layover in Suzhou from Shanghai by train, then I headed to the small city of Tongli by metro, then I went to the even smaller town of Jiangfen by bus. From there, I walked to the even smaller Zhouzhuang. What a journey! But it was worth it.
When you enter Zhouzhuang, it is like stepping back in time. Is this even China? It sure isn’t anything like the busy Shanghai life. The locals here were all very much so relaxed and hospitable and welcoming to visitors. Besides the the abundant amount of tourists, everything felt tranquil and at peace. The city is built around canals and rivers and it is connected by bridges everywhere. These bridges have a lot of meaning to them, like the Green Dragon bridge, Double Luck bridge, all have a deep meaning behind them. The main mode of transportation here is of course by boat! A slender wooden and traditional looking boat rowed by locals. They would row across the numerous waterways singing songs in an ancient language. The atmosphere and air of the city was more than just romantic, maybe just like Venice.
I explored Zhouzhuang as best as I can, following every old street and river. I was content with the village and saw the day, night, sunrise, sunset, sunshine, and rain and how it changes the beauty of Zhouzhuang, every time to a different picture.
Zhouzhuang is a hidden gem hidden in some of the most popular and biggest cities in China, it is easy to miss. But a quick escape from the busy city life would take you back in time to a place unlike any. I would really recommend Zhouzhuang to anyone visiting China. After my trip to Zhouzhuang, I am really considering visiting Venice, the Zhouzhuang of Italy.
Boats line up along these old streets and even older canals. Rowing boats is the main mode of transportation here!
The gate and pagoda right outside the border of the village of Zhouzhuang. It was a very warm welcome!
Being at Zhouzhuang, listening to the songs, watching the water flow, appreciating the atmosphere, and living every second of it, is an unforgettable experience.