Xitang Water Town in Jiaxing

Xitang Water Town

Xitang is a living ancient town with a history more than one thousand years. It is featured in 104 old bridges, 122 old lanes, long ceilinged corridors. The local residents have been keeping easygoing and peaceful lifestyle, making Xitang a fantastic place to experience a feeling of simplicity and leisure.

Introduction of Xitang Water Town

Xitang is also famous for its numerous bridges, alleys and roofed corridors. With simple folk custom, melodious paddling sounds, and unique cultural trait, Xitang draws tourists and photographers from all over the world. It is one of six famous water towns (Zhouzhuang, Tongli, Luzhi, Xitang, Wuzhen, and Nanxun) in Lower Yangtze River Region. 

History of Xitang Ancient Town

Xitang is one of the birthplaces of ancient Wu-Yue Culture (a culture developed in Tai Lake region and Zhejiang Province). In Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC), Xitang was the border of Wu State and Yue State. It developed into a town approximately during Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties. During Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, it became a prosperous and populous market town thanks to its fertile soil, temperate climate, and plentiful produce, and convenient water transportation. Ceramic industry, rice market, food industry were thriving at that time. Today, many ancient mansions remain in the town, demonstrating the past of Xitang. The town in early days depended so much on water transportation that it was seldom influenced by the outside world and the legacies of forefathers are maintained. There is no better way to describe it than the sentence ”water of Spring and Autumn Period, town of Tang and Song dynasties, architecture of Ming and Qing dynasties, People of modern times”.

What to see in Xitang Ancient Town

It covers 11 scenic spots and Five Girls Theme Park. The 11 scenic spots are  Ni House, Huguo Grain Official Temple, Shrine, West Garden, Fortune House, Zuiyuan Garden, Root Carving Hall, Eaves Tile Exhibition Hall, Chinese Wine Culture Museum, Chinese Fastener Museum, and Ming & Qing Wood Carving Hall.

Roofed Corridors (廊棚)
The roof is a brick and wooden structure with black tiles on the top. On the corridor there are many stalls manned by hawkers. The roofed corridor may evoke nostalgia of most travelers.

West Garden (西园)
The West Garden was originally the villa of Zhu family of Ming Dynasty and was changed hand to Sun family. The garden is pretty charming with trees, folwers, rockwork, pavilion, ponds and other ornaments. 

Shipi Alley (石皮弄)
 The Shipi Alley is paved with 168 stones between Wang family and Sun family’s mansions. It is 68 meters long with the narrowest part being only 0.8 meter. Xitang ancient town is packed with 122 alleys, among which Shipi Alley is the most distinctive one.

Yongning Bridge (永宁桥)
The bridge itself is not too unusual, but it is the best point to find a view of photographing. The long Chaonandai roofed corridor looks like a sleeping dragon on the north bank of the river, and walker and bikers run under the roof; on the southern bank are age-old dwelling houses.

Shao Xiang Gang (烧香港)
Shao Xiang Gang is the name of a river. The streets on its banks are called ”Shaoxiang Gang Street”. This port used to be the most bustling area in the town. It was (and is) famed as the most-visited place for burning incense.

Chinese Wine Culture Museum (中国酒文化博物馆)
Many famous Chinese poets once came to Xitang and drink good wine. The Chinese Wine Culture Museum opens a window for tourist to have a better knowledge to Chinese wine culture with hundreds of exhibits. It is the epitome of Chinese traditional culture.

Button Museum (纽扣博物馆)
Xitang is hailed as the hometown of a button. The Button Museum is located on West Street with six exhibition halls, respectively showcasing ancient buttons, modern buttons, contemporary buttons, shell buttons processing, usage of button, and Chinese knots.

Ginkgo trees in Lu’s graveyard (陆坟银杏)
There are two ginkgo trees on the end of Youdian Road in the town. There were planted in Ming Dynasty, 600 years ago. The two trees are flourishing with big trunk and luxuriant leaves. 

Folk eave tiles exhibition hall (民间瓦当陈列馆)
The folk eave tiles exhibition hall showcases about 300 types of architectural materials, such as traditional eave tiles, tile carving, pottery figurine, dripping lace and so forth. 

Root Carving Museum (根雕馆)
The famous root-carving artist Zhang Zheng, who was born in Hangzhou, once lived in Xitang. His Over 500 masterpieces are included into the list of Guinness. In the museum visitors can enjoy various kinds of root-carving works. 

As a water town, Xitang was dotted with a number of bridges each with its own feature. Apart from the Yongning Bridge mentioned above, there are some other famous bridges such as Wo Long Bridge (卧龙桥), Song Zi Lai Feng Bridge (送子来凤桥), Huanxiu Bridge (环秀桥), Anjing Bridge (安境桥), Wufu Bridge (五福桥), etc. 

Ancestors of Xitang left behind of a number of distinctive mansions to their descendants. Probably the best are West Garden, Zhongfu House (种福堂), Ni’s House (倪宅), Xue’s house (薛宅), Zun Wen Hall (尊闻堂), etc.

Accommodation in Xitang Water Town

In Xitang there is a wide choice of hotels and inns, which can be broadly divided into two types. On weekdays the priceof staying in a hotel is around 100 to 300 yuan. At weekends or holidays, the price jumps significantly.

  1. Starred Hotels
    There are many starred hotels inside the ancient town and the price is reasonable, comparable to that for hotels in the cities. The only difference is that the rooms look simpler.
  2. Waterfront Hostels
    Most hostels are inside the scenic area. Whether by day or night, when you open a window you can always see the beautiful scenery and get some fresh air. The owners of most hostels are locals. They are kind and enthusiastic. If you wish to have a more authentic experience and get closer to locals, you can book to stay in a hostel.

How to get there

  • From Jiaxing: take bus K152 at Jiaxing North Bus Station (嘉兴汽车北站) to Xitang Ancinet Town; take bus No.4, 5, or 22 at square of Jiaxing Railway Station(铁路嘉兴站) to Jiaxing North Bus Station; take Bus K93 at Jiaxing South High-speed Rail Station (高铁嘉兴南站) to Jiaxing North Bus Station.
  • From Jiashan County: take bus K215 or K216 at Jiashan Passenger Bus Station (嘉善客运中心) to Xitang (06:00-17:50, 40 minutes); take bus K210 at Public Bus Station (5 minutes’ walk to Jiaxing railway station) to the town ( 06:00-17:30, 30 minutes); take bus K702 from Jiashan South High-speed Rail Station (高铁嘉善南站) of to Jiaxing Passenger Bus Station. 
  • From Shanghai: take a tour bus (at 09:15) at Shanghai Tourist Distribution Center (in Shanghai Bawanren Stadium).
  • From Hangzhou: take a high-speed bus at Jiubao Bus Station (CNY39, two hours’ drive).

Useful Travel Tips

  • Local Snacks
    There are some famous dishes in Xitang Water Town, including Braised Baisi Fish, Yellow Rice Wine, Bazheng Cake, “June red” crab, water bean curd, meat braised with lotus, etc. Many hotels can offer nice dining condition with comfortable atmosphere.
  • Night Ticket: CNY 50
    Note: It’s available after 17:00 from Apr. to Oct.
  • Whole day.
    Ticket Hours: Mon. – Thu.: 7:30 – 17:00; Fri. – Sun.: 7:30 – 21:30.
  • Reserve in advance. Xitang is a popular tourist spot. If you don’t book in advance, it is hard to find a hotel in peak season. You can find most hotel information and make a reservation on the internet.
  • Ticket
    There are two ways for you to buy ticket. One is to buy a joint ticket for admission and 11 scenic spots which is CNY100. Another is to buy a ticket for the specific scenic spot you want to visit which is between CNY5 and CNY15. The only trouble is that you will have to buy an admission ticket at CNY50 before you buy ticket of any scenic spots in Xitang Ancient Town on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. 

Recommended Tour Packages

Main Attractions in Zhejiang province

Edited by  Lynette Fu/付云锐