Zhouzhuang lies at the middle between Shanghai and Suzhou, is an
ancient town of Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province, where abounds with
rivers and lakes. So it is thought by many to be the best waterside
town in China.This ancient town has a history of more than 900
years old with many houses built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
There are about 100 houses with courtyards, and 60 of them have
arch gateways made by carved bricks.
With lakes on four sides, the beauty of Zhouzhuang is specially to
be found along the waterside lanes and around a number of the stone
bridges. A different vista at every turn can be found here. All
those make a visit most enjoyable. Also, one can enjoy the
fairyland atmosphere of the evenings here when the myriad stars
twinkle as though in communication with the glittering lights.
Zhouzhuang has no airport or railway station and the town can only
be reached via highway or water.
Buses: Zhouzhuang is easily accessible by bus. There are two main bus
routes: Suzhou-Zhouzhuang and Shanghai-Zhouzhuang. A bus leaves
from Suzhou North Long-distance Bus Station every 20 minutes from
7:05 am to 5:00 pm. About 7 buses go to Zhouzhuang from Shanghai
Long-distance Bus Station daily. .
Ferries: The Jishui River connects Zhouzhuang with Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Visitors from Hangzhou can travel along the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand
Canal to get to Zhouzhuang. The riverside country sceneries provide
for a memorable experience.
Local Transportation: Vehicles including bicycles are not allowed within the town. Small
boats are the only means of transportation.
Most of the star-grade hotels in Zhouzhuang are located in the New
City area and there are many, including the Zhouzhuang Hotel,
Zhouzhuang Grand Hotel, Yunhai Resort and many more. A lot of
private guesthouses have also been built.
Water lanes & Stone bridges
The layout of the water lanes in Zhouzhuang resembles a Chinese
character "#". Many stone bridges are built over them, linking
houses on both sides of each stream. These stone bridges are very
old. 14 of these were built in the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Representatives of these are the Twin Bridges, Fu'an Bridge,
Zhenfeng Bridge and Fuhong Bridge.
From the "Heaven on Earth" to the water village
Suzhou is China's well-known "city of gardens". Distinctive garden
art came to its zenith during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The city
and its outskirts are dotted with exquisite private gardens. Dozens
of them, such as Zhuozheng, (Humble Administrator’s) Garden,
Liuyuan (Lingering) Garden, Wangshi (master of nets) Garden and
Huanxiu (Embracing Beauty) Mountain Villa are well preserved today.
The charms of mountains, forests, trees, flowers and springs can be
appreciated without going out of the noisy surroundings of the
town. To see the water villages, the city should be toured by
rickshaw or by boating down the rivers, passing old-styled bridges
and ancient houses along the way.
The Twin Bridges
To the northeast of the town are the twin Shide and Yong'an
Bridges. They were built between 1573 and 1619.
The area is crisscrossed by the Yinzi and Nanbei rivers. To serve
these rivers, one bridge is built in a north-south direction and
the other in an east-west direction. Each bridge has one square and
one round opening that look like ancient keys, hence they are also
known as the Key Bridges. In 1984, Chen Yifei, a young artist
residing in the United States, painted a picture of the Double
Bridge and named it "Memories of Hometown". The painting, with
Chen's 37 other works, were exhibited and bought by Dr. Armand
Hammer, an American oil tycoon, and later presented to the late
Fu'an Bridge is located at the east end of Zhongshi Street,
crossing the Nanbeishi River and leading to Nanbeishi Street.
It was built in 1355, and later rebuilt by Shen Wansi, younger
brother of Shen Wansan. There are towers on all four corners. Each
side has carved beams and painted rafters. People can now enjoy
local foods and shopping in the towers.
Zhenfeng Bridge sits on the west mouth of the Zhongshi River, and
connects the Zhenfeng Lane and Xiwan Street. It was built in the
Ming and Qing Dynasties, and is well preserved today.
Zhouzhuang has about 1000 households who are living in the old
dwelling quarters built in the Ming, Qing dynasties and the early
Republic of China. More than 60% of these houses are well
preserved. There are 100 houses with courtyards and 60 of these
have arch gateways made by carved bricks. The houses of both Zhang
and Shen families have remained intact and serve as excellent
examples of traditional Chinese architecture
Shen's House is located to the southeast of Fu'an Bridge, on Nanshi
Street. Shen Benren built it in 1742 during the Qing Dynasty. He
was a descendant of Shen Wanshen: a wealthy man in southern China
in the late Yuan (1206-1368) to early Ming Dynasties.
The compound has seven courtyards, five archways and more than 100
rooms of different sizes. Covering an area of 2000 square meters,
it was built along both sides of a 100-m-long axis.
There are three sections. The first section includes the water gate
and wharf for mooring boats and washing. The second section
consists of the Tea Hall and Main Hall for receiving guests and
holding weddings or funerals. The rear part serves as living
The Main Hall covers 170 square meters. The 6-m-high carved brick
archway, facing the Main Hall, has a horizontal board bearing the
inscription Jihouliuguang (do more good forever). Around the board
are relief sculptures of figurines, animals, pavilions and opera
Zhang's House is located to the south of the Twin Bridge on Beishi
Street. It was built between 1436 and 1449 by the offspring of Xu
Kui, the brother of Zhongshan King Xu Da. After it was sold to the
Zhang family in the early Qing Dynasty, it became known as either
Yuyan (Jade Swallow) Hall or Zhang's House.
Covering more than 1800 square meters, the house has 6 courtyards
and more than 70 rooms. The main courtyard has buildings facing
east and west, with long and short windows. Yuyan Hall is the main
building. The hall is large and bright with grand columns on large
pier bases, a rare Ming style. A river flows under the hall. A
square pool built in the middle section allows boats to turn round.
Its rear hall has open windows and balconies facing the water with
a backyard of various plants and flowers.
The place is now an important cultural relic under the protection
of the provincial government.
Ye Chucang Residence
Born in Zhouzhuang, Ye Chucang (1887-1946) was a poet and a
statesman. He was a graduate of Suzhou High School. When he came
home during one winter vacation, he saw the destructive effects of
gambling and opium on the population. He was credited with
organizing a group of young people to publicize and steer people
away from these harmful activities.
His residence, Zuyin Hall, located on Xiwan Street facing north,
was built in the Qing Dynasty and has five courtyards. The Main
Hall was his studio and the Rear Hall was a place where he received
friends. How to get there: As a town under the jurisdiction of Kunshan City,
Zhouzhuang is 60 kilometers from Yushan town, the location of
Kunshan municipal government, 60 kilometers from Suzhou City and 65
kilometers from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. Tourists
can take buses to Zhouzhuang from Shanghai, Suzhou, Kunshan and
Qingpu District (Shanghai).
How to Get to there?