Located on the outskirts of Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is one of the water towns that is still well-maintained compared to many other that have vanished with the passage of time. With ferries as the main form of transport along the many water-ways there, it is, in essence, the Venice of China.
Though it is far from the city center, being some 50 kms apart from the Bund, subway line 17 stops at Zhujiajia station and less than half hour of walking will land tourists at the traditional town. Huzhu Special and Huzhu Express line will also make the trip to Zhujiajiao bus station for RMB8 and RMB12 taking 30 minutes and 10 minutes respectively. The former is available from Hongqiao airport while the latter goes from Pu’an Rd bus stop. There is no admission charge for the village, but attractions inside have tickets that can be bought at the entrance (combo tickets for all 8 sites and a ferry ride costs RMB80). Make sure to get a free map from the tourist office to have a more informed look-around. And be wary of weekends and public holidays since the town seems to be overflowing with visitors even on weekdays. Your best bet would be early in the morning before tour buses start to roll in.
The constructions throughout the town are ancient, dating back to the time of the Ming and the following Qing period in Chinese imperial history. The feeling of stepping back in time is somewhat eroded along the main streets of town as modern shops and western eateries open their doors to visitors. These are particularly concentrated along the people’s square. There’s even a Starbucks here. But if you stray from this path and venture in to alleys and the water ways farther from the center, you will be quite impressed by the preservation efforts that are expended into the bridges and homes.
Popular activities in Zhujiajiao Water Town is picture sessions on some of the 36 stone bridges, taking boat rides in the water roads of the city, paying visits to the Qing Dynasty Post Office, Ancient North Street and Kezhi Garden apart from other attractions and trying out the local food, which is mostly seafood, as you may have guessed, but also includes lotus roots and green soy beans. There are temples, that a peek in to, will be sufficient to sate your curiosity.
Café and teahouses seem to also attract a large number of tourists, who come in for the tea but stay for the home-made food, specialty brews, great views of the waterways below and sometimes even history lessons from enthusiastic locals. The While you walk around the scenic water side roads you will find plenty of souvenir and snack vendors that offer such a wide variety that you are bound to find something to your liking along the way.
All in all, it is a good day trip from Shanghai and a welcome relief from the fuss of the over-whelming metropolis of China.