Brief Introduction of Zhouzhuang
Reputed as the No. 1 Water Town in China, Zhouzhuang or Zhouzhuang Water Town is one of the “ten most beautiful towns in the globe” and “world charming water town”. Also, with appealing sightseeing and authentic flavor of regions south of Yangtze River in China, Zhouzhuang is given the title of “National AAAAA Tourist Attraction” and one of the “top ten tourist attractions in China favored by the European people”. Visiting Zhouzhuang Ancient Town, you can see 14 ancient particular stone bridges built in Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, multiple courtyards linking together on the winding water, more than 800 residences by the river, etc. which is exactly the look of a serene historical water town in eastern China. Besides the scenery, the special folk culture in Zhouzhuang is a real gem of culture in Wu area (one of the Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period) and the soul of this charming place.
History of Zhouzhuang
Zhouzhuang was anciently called Yao City (摇城) because it was the manor of Yao, the son of Helv (阖闾) who was the King of Wu Kingdom. In A.D. 1086, Zhou Digong (周迪功) believing in Buddhism devoted a land of more than 13 hectares to Quanfu Temple (全福寺) as a temple place, and people there named the land Zhouzhuang (Zhou Village) to thank him. And then, Zhouzhuang was continuously expanding with more and more people coming and settling down. As Shen Wansan (沈万三), who was the rich people there, started doing commercial trade with foreigners, Zhouzhuang became a trading center of food, silk and many handicrafts, the people there gradually lived very prosperous life and built Zhouzhuang into a better ancient town.
Must-visit Attractions in Zhouzhuang
Since Zhouzhuang is a historic water town of nearly 1000 years, you can visit many places here to feel its featured old flavor.
Double Bridge - Shuangqiao
The Double Bridge (双桥) actually refers to Shide Bridge (世德桥) and Yongan Bridge (永安桥) at the center of Zhouzhuang. First built during A.D. 1573 and A.D. 1619, these two bridges link together like a key in ancient China, so, the bridge is also called Key Bridge. Also, the Double Bridge is the best place to feel the ancient charm of Zhouzhuang. With the gem-like water and lush trees, you can take a boat to appreciate it and enjoy passing through under the bridge.
Moreover, the Double Bridge is well-known for the oil painting of Chen Yifei (陈逸飞) who is a famous painter. After his painting of Zhouzhuang exhibiting in the gallery of Armand Hamer the US, the American people were marveled at the idyllic land of China water town. And in 1985, the painting was chosen to be the pattern of the first-day cover of the United Nation, favored by people from all fields.
Shen’s House - Shenting
The Shen’s House (沈厅), in this residence of more than 2000 square meters, was built by the decedent of Shen Wansan in 1742. Nearly every visitor would go to Shen’s House to feel the life and history of the very wealthy person in Wu Kingdom. Going inside, you can see the wide and magnificent main hall, and raise you head, the hidden window is right there, and that was for the lady selecting her husband in ancient China. Also, you can find abundant fine decorations on the doors, windows, etc. like golden carving of animals and flowers hollow engraving of blossoms and figures, etc. Besides, the statue of Shen Wansan and a glittering treasure pot are there in al hall. It is said that the pot can bring luck of making money to people, so visitors usually throw a coin to the gold ingot to get the good amassing fortune. And you can walk or stand in the stone door of ancient Chinese coin to get more fun.
Zhang’s House - Zhangting
The Zhang’s House (张厅) was built in Qing dynasty and originally named Yishuntang (怡顺堂). It renamed Zhangting (Zhang’s House) after made over to a person whose family name was Zhang. Built within the 1800 square meters wide area and carved beams as well as painted rafters, Zhang’s House was regarded as luxurious at that moment. Moreover, it is very interesting to imagine the scene of boats passing by the door of the house in the past for the special location and featured design. In the backyard, there is a little garden with dancing bamboos and Chinese roses. You can stroll on the winding path to enjoy the scene of river, and also, you can wear the costume in Ming and Qing dynasty to play the historical role in the quiet garden and experience the daily life of ancient people in Zhouzhuang. In the ancient old-style private school, you can see very antique desks and seats, which shows the high pursuit of knowledge of the host who wanted to give advanced education to his children.
Home of Yifei
The former residence of Chen Yifei (逸飞之家) is one of the highlights in Zhouzhuang Water Town, where you can see the past living environment and introduction of the famous painter. Walking through the door, you can admire the historic simple courtyard with trees in the typical Chinese old style. However, you can see the photos, statue, clothes and historical material of this great person in the house.
Apart from the above attractions, you can go to other worth-seeing places, like Fu’an Qiao (富安桥) that stands for wealth and safety is the symbol of Zhouzhuang Ancient Town. What’s more, Shen Wansan’s Former Residence (沈万三故居) shows the copper statue, historic brief of Shen and other precious art works, etc.
Featured Sceneries in Zhouzhuang
In a Day:
Before dawn, you can hear the very pleasing chime of the bell weighing 1500 kg in Quanfu Temple at the west side of Zhouzhuang.
Jizhui Harbor is very wide and turbulent. From a distance, you can appreciate the scene of near 100 white boards competing on the water changing from calm to torrential.
Every late afternoon, all the fishing boats return with fruitful results, and you can enjoy the people sing the old fishing songs in the boat to celebrate the big harvest when the moon rising in Baixian River (白蚬江) at the west of Zhouzhuang, which is near the gate. Also, you can visit the “Fishing Singing on Xianjiang” Museum (蚬江渔唱) to see the relics and imitate scene of local fishing.
In Four Seasons:
You can appreciate different beautiful sightseeing of Zhouzhuang in all seasons.
Quanfu Temple is in Nanhu Yuan in the south of Zhouzhuang and is called the “Buddhist Land on Water”. In spring, go to Zhigui Pavilion (指归阁) in the temple to overlook the full view of green mountains and the vast river nearer. With the new red peach blossoms and verdurous willows, Zhouzhuang is really a heaven on earth.
Summer is usually the rainy season, so you can admire the mysterious view of the water town that is like a young girl who is shy and hesitates to uncover her veil.
Nanhu Garden (南湖园) in the south of Zhouzhuang has fascinating view all year round, especially in autumn. So you can go there to see the bright moon hanging high and enjoy the cool wind blowing the green lake.
Dongzhuang (东庄) of 50 min’s driving distance from the east of zhouzhuang is very charming in winter. After snowing, the whole land suddenly changes into a silver costume and a very good place to take a walk and to admire the pure wonderland.
Amazing Things to Do in Zhouzhuang
Enjoy the Kun Opera
As the “Ancestor of Chinese Operas”, Kunqu Opera (昆曲) is the oldest type of drama in China. Sit in an opera house to feel the excellent art and know about the famous story for hundreds of years. The Old Stage is in the north of the Double Bridge. There, professional actors and actress provide excellent Kunqu Opera performance with great live band, exact Chinese and English subtitles on both sides of the stage.
Show time: 10:00-11:00; 14:00-15:00 every day except for Thursday
Visit Zhouzhuang on Sculling Boat
During the day, taking a sculling boat to appreciate the antique charm of Zhouzhuang is terrific. Watching the hundred-year old houses passing by, verdant willow dancing in the wind and listening to the introduction of the ancient history and story, you may be lost in the relaxing ancient water town. Furthermore, Zhouzhuang at night is super splendid. Boarding on a boat, you can totally enjoy the sound of traditional stringed and woodwind instruments from the upper floor in Fuan Bridge and the Chinese Pipa (琵琶) sound from a residence. With the reflection of the multiple old bridges and the colorful lights, you will feel Zhouzhuang is so charming.
Boat Tour Fee:
Water Lane Tour: CNY 150 / boat in the day, CNY 180 at night (1-6 people, single tour)
Wansan Fortune Cultural Tour: CNY 280 / boat (1-6 people; round trip)
Zhouzhuang Round Tour: CNY 60 / person for a single trip, CNY 80 for a round trip
Watch “Zhouzhuang in All Seasons” Show
“Zhouzhuang in All Seasons” (四季周庄) is the first live-action performance of water town in China. The about 200 actors, actresses and local ordinary people show the traditional culture and rich folk costume of water town and tell the life and beauty of Zhouzhuang.
Show Time: April 1st - November 20th: 19:00-20:00; 19:30-20:30 in Summer (Excluding bad weather day)
Place: No. 375, Quangong Road (全功路), Zhouzhuang Town
Fee: CNY 150 / person (VIP Seat: CNY 280)
Note: the above information is for reference only, for the detailed and updated information about “Zhouzhuang in All Seasons” Show, please contact our Travel Consultant!
Recommended Route to Visit Zhouzhuang
1 day classic tour
Enter Zhouzhuang to see the Double Bridge to appreciate the view of boats and residences along the river, and then walk to Zhang’s House to see the luxurious rooms and wander in the little garden. After that, move to Shen’s House where you can know about the life and story of the very wealthy Shen’ Wansan. Then, go to see Fuan Bridge that is the symbol of Zhouzhuang. Finally, you can enjoy the charming view of Zhouzhuang Water Town by taking the boat through many stone bridges and listen to the singing of the female sculler.
2 day In-depth route
Enter Zhouzhuang to visit Zhouzhuang Museum to admire those precious relics and have a brief understanding of the development of Zhouzhuang. After that, go to see Fuan Bridge that is the symbol of Zhouzhuang. Next, visit Zhang’s House as well as Shen’s House to see the luxurious rooms know about the life and story of the very wealthy Shen’ Wansan. Then, walk to the Double Bridge to appreciate the view of boats and ancient houses along the river. And at night, enjoy the “Zhouzhuang in All Seasons” Show to know the culture of Zhouzhuang Water Town.
Take a boat (For fee) to wander along the river to appreciate the fascinating scenery of water, bridge and residences and listen to the old songs of the local sculler. Enjoy the Kun Opera and know the culture of Suzhou at the Old Stage. Then, go to Nanhu Garden to admire the pleasing view of lakes and old houses.
How to Get to Zhouzhuang
Zhouzhuang is only 45 km southwest from Suzhou city and 70 km from Shanghai. Many tourists get to Zhouzhuang from Suzhou and Shanghai because of the short distance and as both cities have long-distance buses to Zhouzhuang. For independent travellers, you can either charter a car to save your time or take a bus to get there.
From Suzhou - 45 km (1 hour by car)
There are frequent coaches starting from Suzhou Beiguangchang Bus Station (苏州北广场站) and Suzhou North Bus Station (苏州汽车客运北站) to Zhouzhuang, which need about 1.5 hours. Both bus stations are near Suzhou Railway Station and easy to get to. Also, you can take a bullet train (many shifts every day) to Kunshan first in less than 15 min and then take a taxi to get to Zhouzhuang for about 50 min (36 km). More about How to Get to Zhouzhuang from Suzhou >
From Shanghai - 70 km (75 min by car)
There are many bus stations in Shanghai running buses (about 1.5h) to Zhouzhuang, including Shanghai Tourist Distribution Center (上海旅游集散中心), Shanghai Bus Terminal (上海长途汽车总站), Shanghai South Bus Terminal (上海长途客运南站), Shanghai West Bus Terminal (上海长途客运西站), etc. Shanghai Tourist Distribution Center is most chosen because of the convenience to reach and the frequent buses. Or you can take a high speed train to Kunshan (about 20min) or Suzhou (about 30min) first and then transfer to Zhouzhuang. More about How to Get to Zhouzhuang from Shanghai >
From Hangzhou - 150 km (2 hours by car)
Many people also traveled to Zhouzhuang from Hangzhou as there used to be direct buses. But they are not available now, you can take high speed trains to Suzhou (1.5h) or Shanghai (45min) first and then transfer to Zhouzhuang.
Travel with China Discovery (Top Recommended):
If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers sightseeing, dining and transfer from us. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to Zhouzhuang with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.
Note: the above information is for reference only, for the detail time and other information of transportation to Zhouzhuang, please contact our Travel Consultant!
Accommodate at Zhouzhuang
There are a series of very comfortable and fancy hotels and hostels in and around Zhouzhuang town, from Luxurious villas, resort, four-star hotels, to economical hotels and special themed exquisite inns. You can choose your favorite one to stay and enjoy the distinct feeling of water town.
Eat at Zhouzhuang
Zhouzhuang has abundant tasteful food, like the local featured cuisines of pork, beef and fish, chicken, sea food, desserts, and famous Apo Tea (Grandmother Tea), etc. Besides, you can enjoy coffee and western food in the hotels and special western restaurants there.
Tips to Go to Zhouzhuang
1. The entrance ticket covers 14 spots including Zhang's House, Shen's House, Old Stage, Home of Yifei, Nanhu Garden, Former Residence of Shen Wansan, Former Residen of Ye Chucang, Shen Wansan Underwater Tomb, Culture Street, Chengxu Taoist Monastery, "Fishing Singing on Xianjiang” Museum, Tianfu Museum, and Zhouzhuang Museum. If you want to stay a night in Zhouzhuang, get a photo from the staff for free near the ticket office, and your ticket will be extended to be valid for three days.
2. Take rain gears and some mosquito repel especially in summer and take enough clothes because it’s a little cold in the autumn morning and night.
3. Watch out while traveling on the boat in case of falling in the water.
How to Plan Your Travel in Suzhou
How to Get to Suzhou: You can easily get to Suzhou by high speed train from Shanghai (about 0.5 hour), Hangzhou (about 1.5 hours), Nanjing (about 1 hour), Beijing (about 4.5 hours), etc.
Best Time to Visit Suzhou: April to October, especially April and May in spring and September and October in autumn
Generally, a classic Suzhou tour takes about 1~2 days. Visiting Suzhou, you can't miss elegant Suzhou gardens, like Humble Administrator's Garden, Lingering Garden, Master of the Nets Garden, etc. You can choose one or two of them for a great garden delight. Other must-be-visited sights in Suzhou City include Suzhou No.1 Silk Factory from which you can watch the process of silk making from silkworms to elegant products, Tiger Hill which is known as the first sight in Suzhou, Suzhou Museum which is designed by I. M. Pei and Suzhou's old canalside roads (like Pingjaing Road and Shantang Street), etc. If you like Jiangnan watertowns, you can visit Tongli, Zhouzhuang or Luzhi to have a wonderful time.
If you want to explore more about Jiangsu Province, you can travel to Nanjing - the old capital city of 6 ancient dynasties, Wuxi - a beautiful lakeshore city, Yangzhou - old culture center of southern China, etc. Check more about Jiangsu Tours>
☛ 5 Days Jiangsu Tour (Suzhou, Wuxi & Nanjing)
In fact, most people travel Suzhou with Shanghai - the best gateway city to Suzhou, and Hangzhou which has long been on a par with Suzhou since ancient times. Generally, it needs 2~3 days enjoying Shanghai's highlights and another 2~3 days appreciating the poetic beauty. Check more about Shanghai Suzhou Hangzhou Tours>
Get Inspired by Real Travel Stories of Our Customers
Since 2012, we have helped numerous customers visit Suzhou and surroundings. With our fully-inclusive private tour packages, all of our customers enjoyed their trips to the exquisite gardens, peaceful watertowns, informative silk factory or museum, old Suzhou streets, etc. Some of them kindly shared their precious photos and stories about their Suzhou journey, just get inspired now.
"We were lucky for being able to watch Chinese dancers at the Lingering Garden at the time of visit…" - shared by Nguyen (Check her The Pursuit of Natural Beauty with the Beloved one - 14 Days Beautiful China Exploring Tour>)
"Suzhou was the real treat at the end of the trip! Everything about Suzhou was perfect…" - shared by Elizabeth from Britain (Check her Long-lasting Memory brought by First Trip to China - 16 Days well-Organized and Wonderful First Visit to China>
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Top 3 Suzhou tours chosen by most customers to explore Suzhou in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
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