I decided to book a half day tour to Zhujiajiao Water Village through Viator.com, as I was on my own and despite having a great guided tour of Shanghai the day before, I was still nervous about the public transportation and making my way that far on my own. I had read about it’s ancient history and that it was very well preserved so really wanted to get there.
It turned out that I was the only person signed up for the tour on that day, so what should have been a group tour turned into a private tour. The guide met me in the lobby of my hotel at 12.30 pm and there was a car waiting to drive us to Zhujiajiao. Unfortunately traffic was very heavy, and the drive which should have taken 1 and half hours, actually took about 2 hours.
On arrival in the more modern outskirts of the Village, the guide purchased our tickets and then we walked the short distance to Fangsheng Bridge that crosses over one of the main canals..
Fangsheng bridge was built in 1571 and is the longest, largest and tallest stone bridge in the Shanghai region.
After crossing the bridge you really felt like you were in the more ancient part of Zhujiajiao water village, which dates back over 1,700 years. The streets narrowed, with old stone pavings and lots of little shops and restaurants on either side selling all range of things from local foods to tourist nick nacks.
The canal streets have paths running along either side of the water and we walked along one until we came to Kezhi Garden and went in to take a look around.
Kezhi garden was built in 1912, took 15 years for the owner to build and is a combination of Chinese traditional and Western style.
After exploring the garden a bit we looked around an art gallery quickly, then went and found our boat for a paddle along the canal.
The man rowing our boat definitely was getting his workout, but I suppose he’s used to ferrying the tourists around, and it made for a relaxing boat road along the side canal and across the main canal where we got off the boat.
After the nice, but fairly short boat ride, we walked back the short distance to meet our car and start the drive back to the centre of Shanghai. Traffic seemed a little better on the way back so it didn’t take quite so long, but before returning me to the hotel the tour included a stop at what they called a Silk Factory, but really was just a big shop that showed you briefly how the make the silk.
It was interesting when they showed you the moths, then the cocoons, then how they spin the silk from the cocoons, and then stretch it out, but what I didn’t like was how you then got the hard sell on to see if you wanted to first buy a silk duvet or pillow, and then you move on to look around what is essentially a large silk clothing shop. I was tempted to dig my heels in and not buy anything, but I was taken with the silk filled pillows as they are hypoallergenic and stay cool which was great for my husband, so purchased one of those as a useful souvenir.
When I was ready, the guide returned me to my hotel by about 6 pm. It had felt like a long way to drive in Shanghai traffic to get to Zhujiajiao water village, but I was really pleased to have been able to experience it even for just a short time.
Date of visit; late November 2017