Why Wuzhen: 5 Reasons to Visit China’s Historic Water Town

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Locals boating on the jade-hued river in Wuzhen, an ancient Chinese water town located on the banks of the Grand Canal.
Locals boating on the jade-hued river in Wuzhen, an ancient Chinese water town located on the banks of the Grand Canal.

You may be asking yourself, “Why would I recommend my clients visit Wuzhen—a virtually unheard of town—when there is so much to see between bustling Beijing and scenic Shanghai in Mainland China?” True, the cities of Beijing and Shanghai alone could easily fill a trip’s itinerary, but, as you’ll read in my August onsite review “Hangzhou: China’s Rising Star,” the city of Hangzhou is the next big thing, and Wuzhen is a quick 1-hour drive away, which brings me to my first point.

  1. Wuzhen is a great day trip from Hangzhou
    Book Goway Travel’s 8-day China Express tour, starting at $1,899 pp including air from Los Angeles on Hainan Airlines, and your clients will experience Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou and Wuzhen in a whirlwind of an itinerary. While touring Hangzhou, a city Marco Polo is said to have declared “the finest and most splendid,” guests have a free day, which they can use to take a trip to Wuzhen.
A local resident practicing the traditional method of dying blue silk at the Indigo Fabric shop.
A local resident practicing the traditional method of dying blue silk at the Indigo Fabric shop.
  1. Very little has changed in Wuzhen’s more than 1,300 year old history
    This means your clients can get a first-hand look at some of the centuries-old customs that took place in this ancient water town. Located on the banks of the Grand Canal, Wuzhen was built around a series of canals and features cobbled streets, stone bridges, and historic buildings—with some dating back to the beginning of the Ming dynasty in the 17th century. Your clients can slip through the town’s narrow streets, over Asian-style arched bridges designed to evoke the full moon, all while visiting traditional workshops, houses and museums. Visitors will delight in witnessing age-old practices and Chinese culture still at play in Wuzhen, including the method for dying and printing blue silk pictured above. To see the streams of blue dyed silk billowing in the wind at the Indigo Fabric shop, check out my Eye on the World: China here. Tickets cost $15.06 pp, and are available online at ewuzhen.com/ticket.
  1. Wuzhen is very much alive with daily folk performances
    The town is divided into four sections by a crisscrossing river with each part hosting different attractions. One of the main draws of the East Area is daily folk performances. When I visited, I was delighted by a haunting Huagu Opera performance (sung in the local dialect) portraying rural life in Wuzhen through simple stories and lively music. There are also shadow plays, martial arts performances on boats, and bamboo pole climbing.
One of the many shops in Wuzhen, included this hippie-chic clothing store.
One of the many shops in Wuzhen, included this hippie-chic clothing store.
  1. Wuzhen is home to a variety of quirky shops…
    Everything from a 24-hour convenience store and comic book shop to the Golden Lotus Shoe Store, selling traditional shoes and collectors’ items, and the Soy Sauce Shop, selling products that are said to have retained the same natural taste and high quality they had 100 years ago.
  1. Wuzhen boasts a burgeoning art scene
    As charming as it is in its antiquity, Wuzhen is also making a name for itself in the contemporary art world with the opening of the November 2015 opening of the Mu Xin Art Museum built in honor of the late artist, writer, and poet Mu Xin. The museum is dedicated solely to his life’s work and features eight galleries in a series of rooms that float above water. To add to its position as a accredidation as a modern art hub, Culture Wuzhen hosted the 4-month-long Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition March 28 to June 26 featuring works from artists from 15 countries and regions around the world.

For more information, visit goway.com or wuzhen.com.cn/english.