A Day Well Spent: Visiting Zhouzhuang Water Village Outside of Suzhou

A Day Well Spent: Visiting Zhouzhuang Water Village Outside of Suzhou

Located about 30 km southeast of Suzhou in the heart of the "Jiangnan" (江南) region—the  "South of the Yangtze River" area between Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang—Zhouzhuang (周庄) is the most popular of the region's so-called "water villages". These "water villages" were built on top of an intricate network of canals, and are characterized by their abundance of beautiful architecture—arched bridges, cobbled alleyways, waterside restaurants—and have long been a favorite tourist destination in China. Zhouzhuang's immense popularity stems from it being the largest and most beautiful of all of the water villages; it is classified as a National 5A scenic area and is also a UNESCO Heritage Site.

While it's close proximity to Suzhou makes it a suitable option if you're simply looking for a pleasant day trip, you're best off staying overnight at a local inn, as Zhouzhuang is at its most lovely in the early morning before the throngs of tourists arrive. Spend a large chunk of these early hours exploring the village's 3 km of canals and 14 stone bridges (many of which date all the way back to the Yuan Dynasty). An overnight stay in the village will also give you added time to experience more of the area's lovely attractions, such as Quanfu Temple (全福寺), Double Bridge (双桥), The Hall of Shen's Residence (沈厅) and Mi Building (迷楼). In fact, even though Zhouzhuang is most well known for its beautiful waterways, the entire village should be considered as a scenic area in and of itself. If you decide to visit Zhouzhuang, be sure to follow one the tours listed below to get the most out of your time here.

Tour Routes

1) Classic Attractions
Ancient Memorial Archway (古牌楼)→Zhen'gu Hall (贞固堂)→Chen Yifei's home (逸飞之家)→The double bridge (双桥)→The Ancient Platform (古戏台)→The Hall of Zhang's Residence (张厅)→The Hall of Shen's Residence (沈厅)→Quanfu Temple (全福寺)→Mi Building (迷楼)→Exhibition Hall of Xianjiang Fishery and Fisherman's Songs (蚬江渔唱)→Zhenfeng Street (贞丰民俗文化街)→Ancient Memorial Archway (古牌楼)

2) Featured Attractions A (added costs)
The Aidu Wharf (爱渡环镇水上码头)→The Nanhu Wharf (南湖码头)→Qiuyue Garden of Nan Lake (南湖秋月园)→Quanfu Temple (全福寺)→Mi building (迷楼)→Exhibition Hall of Xianjiang Fishery and Fisherman's Songs (蚬江渔唱)→Zhenfeng Street (贞丰文化街)→The former Residence of Yechucang (叶楚伧故居)→Stone road with Bamboo handrail (穿竹石栏)→Fu'an Bridge (富安桥)→The Hall of Shen's Residence (沈厅)→The Hall of Zhang's Residence (张厅)→The Double Bridge (双桥)→The Ancient Platform (古戏台)

3) Featured Attractions B (added costs)
Ancient Memorial Archway (古牌楼)→The Museum of Zhouzhuang (周庄博物馆)→Exhibition Hall of Xianjiang Fishery and Fisherman's Songs (蚬江渔唱馆)→Mi building (迷楼)→Zhenfeng Street (贞丰文化街)→The former Residence of Yechucang (叶楚伧故居)→Stone road with Bamboo handrail (穿竹石栏)→Fu'an Bridge (富安桥)→The Hall of Shen's Residence (沈厅)→The Hall of Zhang's Residence (张厅)→The Double Bridge (双桥)→The Ancient Platform (古戏台)

Local Cuisine

In addition to taking the village's architectural and cultural aura, there are a number of culinary delights to enjoy in Zhouzhuang as well. There's Shen Wansan's Foot (万三蹄)—pork feet—which is the village's signature dish, as well as Sanweiyuan (三味圆), Apo's vegetables (阿婆菜), freshwater clams (蚬江水鲜), Wansan Family's Feast (万三家宴八大碗), white silk fish (白丝鱼) Wadesu (袜底酥) and Wansan's cake (万三糕).

Recommended Restaurant: Songhelou Restaurant (松鹤楼菜馆)View In Map
Add: 55-56 Nanshi Jie, Zhouzhuang
地址:周庄镇南市街55-56号
Tel: 512 5721 1848

Staying Overnight

If you're interested in staying overnight in Zhouzhuang, it's recommended that you stay at the Zhouzhuang International Youth Hostel (周庄国际青年旅社), located near the Ancient Platform (古戏台旁).

Zhouzhuang International Youth HostelView In Map
Add: 86 Beishi Jie, Zhouzhuang (near Ancient Platform)
地址:古镇北市街86号(古戏台旁)
Tel: 512 5720 4566
Price: 35 RMB (IYH member), 45 RMB (non-member), 120 RMB (private room)

Evening Performances

If you're staying the evening (and if you're not too tired), it's definitely worth checking out a performance put on by the locals year round, showcasing the local culture and folk customs.

When: 19:00-20:00 (spring and fall); 19:30-20:30 (summer and winter)
Price: 150 RMB (standard), 280 RMB (VIP)

Address, Pricing and TransportationView In Map

Tickets to Zhouzhuang Water Village are good for three days, and can be purchased upon arrival for 100 RMB, or online for 88 RMB here. Tickets are valid from 08:00-16:00 and include free entrance to The Hall of Shen's Residence, Double Bridge, Culture Street and 13 other attractions. In addition "evening" tickets can be purchased for 80 RMB, and are valid from 16:00-21:00. No entrance ticket is required from 21:00-07:00.

Add: Zhouzhuang Water Village, Kunshan City, Suzhou (40 km from city center)
地址:苏州市昆山市周庄镇,距苏州40公里
Tel: 512 5721 1699; 400 828 2900
Price: 100 RMB (entrance), 88 RMB (online), 80 RMB (evening entrance)
Website: http://english.zhouzhuang.com/
Getting there: there is a bus to Zhouzhuang available every 30 minutes from Suzhou North Bus Station (苏州汽车北站) from 06:55-17:20. The trip takes about 1.5 hours and cost 17 RMB. There is also a bus from the Wuzhong District Bust Station (吴中区汽车站) that departs at 07:30, 09:30 and 13:00. The trip takes 2 hours and costs 15 RMB. Buses returning to Suzhou from Zhouzhuang are available every 30 minutes from 06:45-17:10. The trip takes about 1.5 hours and cost 17 RMB. 

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Keywords: Zhouzhuang Water Village water village near Suzhou Suzhou Jiangnan region day trips from Suzhou

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