These 7 Water Villages Are Some of China’s Most Charming Ancient Towns

Tongli or "Little Venice of the Oriental." (Image: Weixin.com)
Tongli or "Little Venice of the Oriental." (Image: Weixin.com)

There is an old saying in China: “Up in heaven is paradise, down on earth is Suzhou and Hangzhou.”

These two cities are famous for their enchanting scenery with lakes, pavilions, well-designed gardens, and beautiful silk products.

Nearby are many ancient water towns, where most of the buildings are centered around lakes, rivers, canals, or ponds. Here are seven of the most well-known ones:

  1. Zhouzhuang  lies between Lake Tai and Shanghai, and was built in 1086. It is surrounded by water with traditional houses built on the waterways. Boats and decorated bridges add color to this small village.
  2. Xitang has a unique style with its narrow stone streets, and famous ceilinged corridors that attract visitors. The family hotels are also special. Silk and hand-made fans make good souvenirs.
  3. Tongli is surrounded by five lakes, including Lake Tongli which is connected by a network of canals fed from the confluence of three rivers. Most of the buildings here are situated along waterways, hence its nickname “Little Venice of the Oriental.”
  4. Luzhi lies west of Shanghai, and has a history of 2,500 years with many relics. It is one of the best preserved ancient water villages in the area, and visiting there is said to be like walking back through time.
  5. Zhujiajiao is called the “Pearl of Shanghai.” You can take a boat through this ancient town to see some of its Ming and Qing dynasty houses. If you only have a short time in Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is a great place to visit.
  6. Mudu is over 2,500 years old, and was built where a river was blocked by a large number of woods, hence its name which means “woods block.” It is the only ancient garden village in China, and there are over 30 private gardens from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
  7. Anchang was built in the Northern Song Dynasty, and has well-preserved ancient houses from the Ming and Qing dynasties. As a typical water town, it is a romantic destination for weddings and honeymoons. Anchang was the hometown of Shaoxing private consultants or solicitors in the Qing Dynasty.

Seeing is believing, so take your time to enjoy some photos of these gorgeous water towns…

(Image: Weixin.com)

A canal in Zhouzhuang. (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

One of Xitang’s narrow streets. (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

Traditional houses next to a canal in Luzhi. (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

Luzhi is pretty, and not too commercialized. (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

Zhujiajiao or the “Pearl of Shanghai.” (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

Morning mist in Mudu. (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

There are over 30 historical private gardens in Mudu. (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

A stone arch bridge in Anchang. (Image: Weixin.com)

(Image: Weixin.com)

Anchang is one of four ancient villages in the Shaoxing area. (Image: Weixin.com)

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