Every once in a while, Shanghai’s hustle and bustle can become overwhelming, and it would only be human for the soul to crave an escape. What better place to run away to than a place that reminds you of Italy? Not all of Italy that is, but the renowned home to gondolas, canals, and masks!
If you’ve ever been to Venice, you would understand why this town is known as the “Venice of the East.” Zhujiajiao is an ancient town just located in the municipality of Shanghai with history more than 1700 years old, buildings dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties and dozens of ancient bridges you can walk on, well 36 of them to be exact. If you ask us, it is quite the picture perfect place, so do get your memory cards cleaned up because you don’t want to be wasting your time deleting photos when you could be taking more!
The best part yet is that the water town just located in the municipality of Shanghai, which means it is reachable by metro. Now there really isn’t an excuse for you to not go for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
Bei Dajie (北 街)
There are many streets and alleys you can wander around, but there is one main street, the North Street, that is filled with the best preserved and representative ancient buildings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Take a stroll as you appreciate the historic buildings, long-established stores, old bridges, and narrow lanes and even stop by and have some tea or coffee in one of the little shops along the canal!
Fangsheng Bridge (放 桥)
Perhaps the town’s most prized attraction, this nearly 450-year-old stone bridge is the longest, tallest AND largest stone arch bridge not just in its own city but in the whole Shanghai area. Impressive right? Climb up and down the five arches and get to see the eight dragons coiled around a pearl engraved in the center arch and four stone lions in the pillars on both ends.
If you stay just a bit longer till the evening, you will be able to see it light up along with all the other houses by the riverside and canals. It’s quite the spectacular view, even romantic I would say!
Yuanjin Buddist Temple (圓津禪院)
One of the few temples in the Zhujiajiao, Yuanjin Buddist Temple, is located at the cross-river of Caogang River and Pearl Stream. Take a stroll and walk up to temple and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the town. This monastery was first built during the Yuan Dynasty, which is more than 600 years ago. Yes, you read that right, let that sink in for a moment — more than 600 years ago. No wonder there is such a sense of holiness when being there.
Ah, but let’s not forget the most important activity and the main reason you came to Zhujiajiao for —the Gondolas! Just like the ones in Venice, take a ride in one of the boats, and you will get your very own gondolier. Each boat can take up to 6 people, but you can also rent one for just yourself or as a couple and the ride costs from 80-150 yuan depending if you are up for a short or long boat ride.
Like many other Chinese markets, at Zhujiajao market you will encounter things offered that may be new or even odd to Western people. When you pass by restaurants, you can see on their menus displayed with pictures outside, it becomes clear you can eat things here like turtles, salamanders and some undefined bloody organs… We dare you to try!
But wait, there is more.
These are just some of the main attractions in the town, here are some other places to discover!
• Great Qing Post Office
• Tong Tian He Chinese Pharmacy
• Han Lin Stele Museum
• Humanistic Museum
• Shanghai Handicraft Zhujiajiao Exhibition Hall
• Shanghai Quanhua Art Gallery
• Y-art Gallery
Honestly, the best way to visit this beautiful water town is just to get lost. Don’t be scared just to wander off! Maybe you’ll walk into a scenery that will take your breath away. How to get there There are quite a few transportation options you can choose from. Though we would recommend taking the metro just so you can also get to experience the mayhem in Shanghai’s subways, or what they translate the Chinese saying into English, “people mountain, people sea,” in other words, f*ckin’ crowded. But who are we kidding, if you’re not all about that, you can always take a car!
How to get there
There are quite a few transportation options you can choose from. Though we would recommend taking the metro just so you can also get to experience the mayhem in Shanghai’s subways, or what they translate the Chinese saying into English, “people mountain, people sea,” in other words, f*ckin’ crowded.
But who are we kidding, if you’re not all about that, you can always take a car!