A day trip to Zhouzhuang (located less than 20 miles [32.2 kilometers] from Suzhou) is an advisable activity for anyone who travels to the region in search of canals and other related Chinese architectural marvels. The profusion of beautiful bridges, canals, temples and pavilions that are perched above the water are definitely a sight to be seen.
Known as the “Venice of China,” Zhouzhuang is the country’s oldest water town (the oldest sections date back more than 900 years), and much of the original architecture remains intact and in good shape.
Noteworthy sites in Zhouzhuang include:
- Chengxu Taoist Temple – one of the oldest structures in the area
- Hall of Shen’s Residence – built in 1742
- Fu’an Bridge – built during the Yuan Dynasty
- Quanfu Temple – built in 1987 and offers commanding views of the surrounding area
If it’s shopping you’re after, head to Zhenfeng Street: where you’ll find displays of traditional handcrafts (many of which are for sale).
One excellent way to enjoy a restive tour of the entire area is by boat (it is a water town, after all). The typical tour will set you back around $3-$5 USD.
Keep in mind that Zhouzhuang is a very popular destination and is very crowded even at the best of times. Prepare to deal with a certain amount of pedestrian congestion. It is highly advisable to avoid planning a visit during any and all public holidays. Weekends can be somewhat busier as well.