Shanghai/Zhujiajiao

Zhujiajiao (Chinese: 朱家角; Pinyin: Zhūjiājiǎo Zhèn; Zhujiajiao means "Zhu Family Settlement") is a township in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. The population of Zhujiajiao is around 60,000. The town has a very vibrant ancient water village that is the focus of this article.

Formed 1,700 years ago, Zhujiajiao was an important trading hub for the surrounding countryside, and many of the buildings that can be seen there today date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Traditionally, goods and people were ferried on the small canals from house to house, passing under the 36 ancient stone bridges that are all still in use by locals and tourists alike.

Understand

A river canal in Zhujiajiao

The settlement of Zhujiajiao dates back to the Yuan dynasty, when it was an important marketplace for the surrounding countryside. It was finally granted township status during the reign of the Emperor Wanli of the Ming dynasty. Conveniently placed at the intersection of a number of local rivers, the town prospered through trade in rice and cloth, transported on boats from the surrounding countryside right to the houses of the Zhujiajiao merchants.

The ancient district of Zhujiajiao occupies about 3 sq. km, and exploring it thoroughly will take you about two hours - more if you reserve some time for some of the numerous teahouses, coffeehouses, bars and restaurants. While a lot of streets have become very touristy, you may also find alleys which are still the home of local residents - mainly elderly people and even people of a slightly bohemian streak. Doors are often left ajar, and little distinction is made between the house and the alleyway as people go about their day.

Having been a pretty sleepy town in the past, Zhujiajiao is now in a new era. In recent years, there has been an influx of tourists that stroll along the waterways and are the main source of income for the inhabitants. Some young bohemian people from Shanghai and elsewhere have settled in Zhujiajiao as well. As a result, the ancient quarter now sports a number of artsy bars, cafes and shops that make for great hideouts if you tire of the pushier merchants in the main streets.

Get in

By Bus

The most affordable way to get to Zhujiajiao is to take a bus from the bus station at the Puanlu(Chinese: 普安路)bus station near People's Square or the bus station at Shanghai Ti Yu Guan Station (Chinese: 上海体育馆站) both in Shanghai. Make sure you take the bus line called Hùzhū Gāosù Kuàixiàn (Chinese: 沪朱高速快线) - they usually use pink buses. This should take around 1 hour and the fare is about 12 yuan. There are other bus lines, but they can sometimes take up to 2 hours. These cheaper options do not take the main highway, are much more crowded at peak hours and stop at every stop, filling the bus to absolute standing capacity. Don't worry about where to get off, Zhujiajiao is the end terminal. Also, make sure you don't miss the last bus back to Puanlu, which departs at about 9 PM.

By Taxi

You can get both to and from Zhujiajiao by taxi, but it will usually set you back between 150-200 yuan.

See

A house on Donghu Street

The town is arguably the best preserved of the river towns in Shanghai's vicinity, and the main charm of the town lies in strolling its streets. There are however quite a few specific sights. Many of them require you to have a ticket, which can be bought at the main entrance and includes a map and guide pamphlet. About a kilometer long, Bei Dajie (North Street) is the main thoroughfare in old Zhujiajiao. Lined with old buildings, some many hundred years old, it makes for a nice stroll, from the Fansheng bridge in the northeast to the Handicraft Exhibition Hall and the Tongtianhe Pharmacy in the southwest. In theory there is a nominal 10 yuan charge to even enter the old district, but we have never heard of anyone being asked to pay it - probably because there are numerous ways into the old district, most of them without any formal entrance. Different plans can be bought that include different number of attractions depending on how long you want to stay. The prices range from 35 (4 attractions) to 80 yuan (12 attractions plus the boat ride). However, monitor your time closely as most of the buildings close at 16:30 sharp, and the tickets are only valid for a day.

One of the temple buildings of the Yuanjin Monastery

Bridges

Bridges are something of a star attraction of Zhujiajiao, which sports no less than 36 stone bridges. Most are only a few meters long and broad enough for a pushcart. Many of them are very old, dating back as early as the Ming dynasty.

Do

Boatrides

Two kinds of boat rides are available in Zhujiajiao.

Cafes & Teahouses

Entertainment

Buy

A market lane

There are countless little shops in Zhujiajiao, everything from the usual T-shirt salesmen to handmade textiles and antique carved wood sculptures and furniture.

Eat

Drink

Sleep

There is a hostel on Xijing street, ask for directions. Zher would be a good place, as the owner speaks some English. The owner of HEIMa bar also rents out an apartment for short term stay.

Connect

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, December 12, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.