Zhujiajiao, China

A day in a beautiful water town, an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.
Zhujiajiao (Zhūjiājiǎo 朱家角) is an ancient water town in an outer district of Shanghai. It was founded some 1700 years ago and it is one of China's most famous water villages due to its canals and stone bridges.

Getting there from Shanghai:
On Shanghai's Pu'an Road, behind Shanghai Concert Hall, there are 2 bus routes that will take you to Zhujiajiao. The nearest metro station to Pu'an Road is Dashijie (Line 8) but it's also a 5 min. walk from People's Square station. Once there, look for a bus route called Huzhu Express Line: HuZhu GaoSu KuaiXian 沪朱高速快线 (be sure you got the right one, otherwise you'll end up on a 2-hour bus trip - a hint: Kuai快 means 'fast'), they're normally pink buses. A bus employee will pass by to sell tickets once the bus leaves (12 RMB per person, one way). The express bus takes an hour to get to Zhujiajiao and should leave every 30 minutes but since there's no fixed schedule, just jump in the first one you find. Legroom is reduced so if you need it, be sure to sit in the first rows next to the doors or in the aisle seat at the last row.

Once you get there, follow the crowds going to the entrance gate of the ancient town. There you'll find a tourism office. Zhujiajiao doesn't charge an entrance ticket to the town, but you can choose to buy different packages that include different number of attractions depending on how long you want to stay. We didn't buy anything and just wandered around the town for about 4 hours. 

The town develops around the main canal where you’ll find the iconic Fangsheng Bridge, a 70-meter long rock bridge dating from 1571 (rebuilt in 1812). It is also known as the  ‘fish bridge’, a famous tourist trap that goes on at one of the ends of the bridge: they tell you to buy a goldfish to release it into the water - but then they fish them again a little ahead and sell them again, so don't fall for it.

There are many street vendors selling all kinds of food, that you will of course notice because of the strong smells all over the town.
We only got to taste this bread with what we want to believe were fried herbs inside, but we never knew the name or what was in it, however it tasted OK.

The whole town is worth wandering around, with nice alleys, smaller canals, and many touristy cafés and shops to look around. 


We actually took a short boat ride (for about 65 RMB) to see the canals better.

When we thought it was enough, we walked back to the bus station (and got greeted by the giant cat) and took the first Kuai bus back to Shanghai - we got caught in the rush hour and spent about 2 hours stuck in traffic but it was still a nice day trip and even if it's still a touristic place, it was a nice experience of a more "traditional" Chinese town.

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