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28 June, 2024

[TRAVEL] Day Trip to Zhujiajiao Ancient Town 朱家角 - "Venice of Shanghai"

Zhujiajiao | One day trip 

The highlight of our 5D4N Shanghai trip is definitely the ancient Zhujiajiao water town (朱家角水乡). Although it is not listed as one of the “top 10 water towns in China”, it is remarkably beautiful and definitely worth a visit if this is your first time visiting a water town.

Our initial plan was to tour around Hangzhou and Suzhou for the scenic view, but since we did not have much time to spare in Shanghai, we opted for the closest water town, Zhujiajiao for a nature-centric and cultural-rich experience.

What to expect in Zhujiajiao:
Established since 1,700 years ago, Zhujiajiao was a trading port to ferry the goods in little boats and barges along the canals. According to the locals, Zhujiajiao was once labelled to be part of Hangzhou before the city reorganisation in which the area then becomes part of Shanghai.

Today, it is the most well-preserved ancient water town in the south of the Yangtze River in Shanghai. With the numerous rivers lining Zhujiajiao, there are still many ancient buildings lining the riverbanks until today.

It is good to spend half a day here exploring the shops and restaurants, as most of the shops close by 4pm.

Getting here from the city:
It is an hour train ride from the city. Take the train on Line 2 to the terminal station, East Xujing then switch to Line 17 to Zhujiajiao.

Going by car (49km on the road) does not really save us a lot of travelling time given the traffic condition, hence we relied on the public transportation instead.

Entering into the water town:
There are multiple ways to enter the water town:
❤ 1. By river cruise (RMB 40 one way)
❤ 2. Hop on a trishaw which is located at the opposite side of the station (RMB 20 one way)
❤ 3. By cab (easiest and fastest but less scenic - also around RMB 40 one way)
❤ 4. Walk for approximately 1+ km

We opted for the trishaw in which the rider was a friendly old man. But be mindful that the rider might push for his day tour service (RMB 100 for one full day) where he would chauffeur you wherever you want to go in the water town and recommend some photo spots throughout the tour as well. We wanted to have a more relaxing stroll on our own, hence we turned down the offer.

Bought some ultra sweet strawberries from the roadside vendor before hopping onto the trishaw. Sweet!

大清邮局 Qing Dynasty Post Office
Operating hours: 09:00 – 17:00 daily

Our first stop was the renowned Qing Dynasty Post Office (大清邮局) tucked along one of the many narrow alleys in the water town. It is the only ancient post office that still stands boldly in the East China, so well-preserved since the Qing Dynasty era until today. Interestingly, the interior has now transformed into an art & craft shop cum café.

Look at the postbox! I managed to send a postcard home at only RMB 5!

阿婆茶楼 Ah Ma Tea House
Operating hours: 09:00 – 17:00 daily

Our lunch / tea destination was a very beautiful tea house by the river, overseeing the picturesque water town scenery. However, it is usually a full house, hence prior reservation is highly recommended. 

During our weekday visit, we were lucky as the crowd was so thin, and we managed to secure a table at the al fresco area which was floating on the river and overlooking the magnificent City God Temple amidst the breezy wind. 

The cooling and relaxing ambiance made it a perfect setting to sip on the traditional selections of Chinese tea set which came with a refillable platter of light bites. 

It really felt like being in a Chinese movie scene here. And we easily spent an hour or two in this little tea house just admiring the beauty of the ancient water town. 

The interior of the tea house was pretty cool too.

城隍廟 City God Temple 
Operating hours: 08:30 – 16:30 daily

Fellow worshippers can also visit the City God Temple (城隍廟) and its surrounding area (课植园 / 圆津禅院), but we only took a relaxing boat ride which toured around these historical landmarks.

放生桥 Fangsheng Bridge

Dubbed as the largest bridge in the water town, Fangsheng Bridge is a great spot for sunset viewing. Unfortunately, luck was not on our side during our visit - we could only see the gloomy sky after a heavy downpour. Nevertheless, it was a peaceful scene for us to enjoy afar from the tea house.
It is also the home to the boat terminal station which transports people to and fro the train station. It is highly recommended to take a boat ride to the train station from here (when leaving the water town) and enjoy the river view! 

小杨生煎 Yang's Dumpling
Operating hours: 07:00 – 20:30 daily

The next pitstop before leaving the water town was the famous dumplings shop in Shanghai. There are plenty of Yang’s Dumpling outlets spreaded over the whole of Shanghai, but since we came across one without any queue outside, we decided to take a short break here and tuck into the piping hot and juicy meat dumplings. 

We had the recommended traditional and chives dumplings (荠菜小杨双拼 @ RMB 12) and they were filled with juicy goodness.
For a complete experience, don't forget to stroll along the local market / food street area and check out the local offerings such as the gigantic glutinous rice (priced roughly around RMB 6 each), tea leaves, etc. Personally, I find that it was a great way to immerse ourselves into the rich, preserved culture and tradition.

All in all, it was a short but fun trip to the water town. I particularly love the architectural aspect of this town - where the traditional brick houses were very well-preserved and they added colors to the tranquil flowing river. 

While I don't usually enjoy rainy weather during my travels, the rain here somehow made my experience here even more peaceful and memorable.
Can’t wait to share with you my travel diary in other parts of Shanghai city.
Stay tuned for the next update!

❤ ❤ 

- FiSh | Shanghai | Spring 2024 -

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