My first visit to Wuzhen Water Town was during the traditional International Theater Festival in October. I could not believe I was in China! The atmosphere in this water town reminded me of Avignon in France during its festival. An entire old town was full of performers – on bridges, in the small square, on the streets! Everywhere!
They even had a grand opening dinner for troupes and visitors on the main street of Wuzhen Water Town! And the festival’s program was impressive – the best shows from Europe and elsewhere! The festival audience was also great – people from all over China that love theater, watching the performances without mobile phones in their hands, taking constant selfies… I met a couple from Taiwan that planned their annual holidays every year to attend the Wuzhen festival. The atmosphere and the beauty of Wuzhen Water Town left a strong impression in my emotional memory, so I knew I would come back…
Since then I have visited Wuzhen Water Town many times. And every time I savor its atmosphere and beauty.
It has a 1300 year history, narrow old streets, ancient repaired buildings (not always authentic, unfortunately), temples, water ways and canals with small boats commuting every day.
An ancient Beijing- Hangzhou Grand Canal flows through the town that Europeans call the Venice of China.
Very few locals live within the walls of the ancient town. The total population is only around 60,000. They mostly live outside it in a new area. The old townhouses have been converted into hotels, family restaurants, workshops and souvenir and snack shops.
Wuzhen Water Town has a huge variety of quality, attractive small museums. They include:
Chinese Foot Binding Culture Museum
Yadi Silk Workshop
Indigo Fabric Workshop
Museum of Ancient Beds
Museum of Folk Customs
Wuzhen is divided into Eastern and Western areas. The ticket prices are 150 RMB for entry to both, or 100 RMB to enter the Eastern area, and 120 RMB to enter the Western area.
The highlights of the Eastern area are the folk performances, such as shadow play, martial arts,
Huagu opera, and bamboo pole climbing.
Where to eat in Wuzhen Water Town?
There are many family restaurants, and the food is delicious. I would suggest trying local pickles, local fish, duck in soy sauce, mutton braised in soy sauce, and a local liquor made from flour, water and rice.
I would recommend staying overnight in Wuzhen, or come for the theater festival and enjoy its unique atmosphere late at night or early in the morning – before the tourists (the majority – local) start flooding in.
The best time to visit is March to May and September to October. Summer is too hot and too humid, and winter is rather chilly.
In Wuzhen you will take a lot of amazing photos, and buy nice things – some woolen products or silk duvets or pillows. My tip for those who stay overnight – ask the locals how to get to a local market, which is about 40-minute drive from Wuzhen. The market has good woolen clothes at great prices.
How to get to Wuzhen Water Town?
Take the bullet train from Hongqiao railway station to Tongxiang railway station. You can then take bus K282 to Wuzhen bus station, then K350 to the scenic area.
You can also take a bus from Shanghai South long-distance bus station, then bus K350, which will take around 2 hours.
Take the train from Hangzhou Railway Station or Hangzhou East railway station to Tongxiang Railway Station and then take local bus K282.
You also can take a bus from Hangzhou Passenger Transport Central Station to Wuzhen Water Town.
Opening hours: (October 9th – April 30th) The East area: 7.20 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. and the West area: 9.00 a.m. – 10.00 p.m. The rest of the year: The East area: 7.20 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. and the West area: 9.00 a.m. – 10.30 p.m.