Xitang Water Town – The Venice of the East

China has always been one my most favorite countries to visit. Its rich culture and vast natural and man-made attractions has always caught my interest ever since I made my first trip last 2018. There is just such so much to see aside from the famous Great Wall, the Forbidden city, the Terracota Warriors, and Shanghai’s skyline. The country is so big that the land area of the USA is only 2% larger than that of China. In my opinion, their history, people, and culture are the most interesting than any other country.

This is what will greet you as soon as you enter the water town

One of the attractions that is a must see when visiting China are their ancient towns. These are historic towns which dates back to as long as a thousand years ago and have been preserved to this day. The ancient towns are scattered throughout the country and each having its own unique vibe depending on which dynasty it was built. Being in one of these ancient towns is like being transported back in time and seeing what China was like thousands of years ago. However, since these are popular tourist destination for both local and international travelers, don’t expect to wander along the ancient towns by yourself just like in the movies. Nonetheless, it will still be worthwhile going and taking those Instagrammable pictures all around the town.

Xitang Ancient Water Town is located in Jiashan County, Zhejiang which is around an hour and a half by land travel from Shanghai. It is called the “Venice of the East”, due to the many water canals which came from the 9 rivers that surround the area. The history of Xitang dates back to 770BC where according to legend, a military general ordered to to dig up several canals to Xitang which serves as transportation to Jiashan county. This made the town have a “Venice” look with ancient China vibe.

Weather during winter was around 6-8C during the day

There are many ancient water towns surrounding Shanghai. What made us choose Xitang is because it is well preserved and less commercialized compared to the other location. It is also famous because it is one of the shooting location for Mission Impossible 3. There are pictures of Tom Cruize running around the area.

Small food stalls like these are found all around the area. No need to worry about getting hungry.
A peek into what ancient China looks like 700 years ago

Sample Itinerary
Visiting Xitang is a good day tour from Shanghai. You don’y have to spend the entire day here. A good half-day schedule I would say is enough to visit the town. Here is our itinerary.

From Shanghai
11:30AM – Buy bus tickets at Shanghai South Long Distance Bus South Station
11:23AM – Bus departs from Shanghai (1.5 hours travel)
1:00PM – Arrival at Xitang bus station (10 min walk from the bus station to the entrance of the ancient town)
1:10PM – Buy entrance tickets to Xitang ancient town
1:20PM – Late lunch at one of the many restaurants inside
2:00PM – Explore Xitang Ancient Town
5:30PM – Walk back to Xitang bus station, buy tickets going back to Shanghai
5:55PM – Bus departs from Xitang to Shanghai (1.5 hours travel)
7:30PM – Arrival at Shanghai South Long Distance Bus South Station

This is what the area outside the water town looks like. Still very peaceful and laid back.

How to get there to Xitang (from Shanghai)?
Xitang Ancient Water Town is roughly 80 kilometers away from Shanghai and unfortunately, there are no direct trains going there as of this writing. The best way is to take the long distance bus which will take to directly to Xitang.

1. Go to the Shanghai South Long Distance Bus South Station. Here is the google maps location. –> Click here
2. One way bus fare costs 35CNY (PHP 250) with 13 daily departures (Monday to Sunday)
3. The bus follows these departure times. 8:45AM, 10:09AM, 10:13AM, 11:23AM, 12:19PM, 1:27PM, 1:35PM, 2:29PM, 3:29PM, 3:33PM, 4:59PM, 6:19PM, 6:25PM
4. The bus will take you directly to Xitang Bus Station which is around 700 meters away from the entrance to the water town

They say that Tom Cruise walked through these same alleys during the filming of Mission Impossible 3
Traditional boats

Operating Hours
Monday to Thursday (7:30AM – 5:00PM) & Friday to Sunday (7:30AM to 9:00PM)

Entrance Fees — as of January 2020
95 CYN – Adults (PHP 680)
50 CYN – Children below 1.5 meters (PHP 360)
Free – Children below 1.2 meters

Water Town Highlights

Xitang is divided into 8 small areas and connecting these areas are 104 bridges you can cross to. There are built mostly in arch shape from one side to another so the boats can pass underneath it.

1 out of the 104 bridges

Ancient Lanes
Aside from bridges, there are several ancient lanes that connect the temples, houses, and shops all over Xitang. It is called ancient because some are as old as 600 years old. These are also small lanes which 2 people can narrowly fit when passing by.

Small, dark alleys around town

Wupeng Boats
One of this things you will notice in Xitang are the Wupeng boats all around the canals. They got the name Wupeng from the black awning (black cover) in the boats. You can book a private boat to avoid the tourists crowd and peacefully enjoy a cruise.

Wupeng boat ride will cost you 100 CYN

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