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Xitang Water Town

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Xitang Water Town (Chinese:西塘古镇)

A brief introduction of Xitang
Xitang Ancient Water Town, about one and half hours' drive from Hangzhou or Shanghai, is a beautiful town that seems like a completely different world from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. The quiet water, handsome bridges, and the reflections in the early morning and the rosy sunset, fishing boats and the glistening lights in the evening, form an amazing picture full of a sense of poetry which can only be seen in the south lower reaches of the Yangtze River. People in Xitang, whether local residents or travelers, feel that this is fairyland. They even have no idea as to whether people are wandering in the picture or the picture is moving in their hearts. This is Xitang, a charming, ancient water town. Mornings in Xitang bring fresh air and light fog; during the evening, the setting sun casts a rosy glow on the old tiled roofs. It truly is a world away. Something that makes Xitang so special is the number of bridges. There are 104 in total, built in varying styles spanning the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Some looks like rainbows over the river and others like long flutes. Life for Xitang locals is calm and easy, full of comfort and peace, no difference from the lifestyle of their ancestors thousands of years ago. The elderly play with their grandchildren on the bridges and in the lanes, and women wash vegetables and clothes in the rivers running beside their houses. If you need a break from the stresses of Shanghai, there's really no better place to chill out and experience the quieter side of Chinese life.

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History of Xitang
Old Town of Xitang is a famous town with thousands of years of history. As early as the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods (770 B.C. - 221 B.C.), it was a place of strategic importance on the boundary between Wu and Yue States, and it was thus known as the Bottom of Wu and the Corner of Yue. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), it developed into a prosperous town, and during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), it was known as an important town for commerce and handicrafts in South China.

What to see

The Covered Corridor
The covered corridor is the most well-known scene in Xitang. It is also the most distinctive feature this historic town offers compared with other water towns. Consisting of many sections, the whole covered corridor is more than 1,000 meters (about 1094 yards) long, attracting visitors from all over the world with its particular charm. Mostly, it is tile-roofed and built along the riverside, providing shelter for people to avoid either the baking hot sun or the rain. So, while walking in Xitang, you can never be caught in the rain or exposed to the searing sun. One section of the corridor is the most elegant, with its carved decorative patterns that are praised by tourists as being the height of artistic perfection. High-back davenports are situated on one side of the covered corridor, along the river, where passersby can rest. Walking along the corridor, watching the boats in the river, you will feel drawn into the meditation of the past.China_Water_Towns_Xitang_Water_Town_Xian_Private_ToursThe Lanes
Besides the covered corridors, the lanes here are a must-see. There are many lanes here, long and short, wide and narrow. Some are dark all the year round; some are simply the drain of two families; most of them were the main artery of the town in the old days. Among all the different lanes, the narrowest is about 80cm (about 31 inches) wide and provides space for only one person to pass through at a time. The lanes are like ropes connecting the whole town into an organic net and no matter from which point you start, you can find any other place in the town. Amazing, isn't it?

The Bridges
The bridges to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River are like the hyperlink to the internet. They are indispensable not only in terms of convenience but also in terms of beauty. Waterways are interwoven in Xitang, so it is not surprising that many bridges cross over the rivers. Here the creative shapes of bridges are very different from each other. What's more, beautiful legends about these bridges are still spread among the people. The craftsmanship of these well-preserved bridges is so masterly that they are indeed a feast for your eyes. Exquisite bridges dot the mirror-like rivers one after another, like flaring clusters of diamonds on the neck of the old town.

The Houses
In the old town of Xitang, people who live there are not rich, so no newer modern houses have been built there. That's maybe one of the reasons why the old constructions are preserved as a whole almost without damage. In those archaic houses, besides the culture and value of the houses themselves, there are also displays of cultural relics or woodcarvings or eaves tiles collected by the house owner. To this day there are exhibitions of the ancient rare books of the owners passed down from generation to generation or rubbings from a stone inscription of a famous calligrapher.

Enjoy the simple lifestyle
Xitang is also attractive because of the easygoing lifestyle that local residents have followed for thousands of years. Unlike the towns of Ancient Town of Zhouzhuang and Ancient Town of Wuzhen, Old Town of Xitang is not a bustling place. People in the town live ordinary, peaceful lives. The elderly play with their grandchildren on bridges and in lanes, and women wash vegetables and clothes in the rivers running beside their houses. The simple lifestyle and peaceful atmosphere may have died out in those now commercialized ancient towns, but they fill every lane in Xitang. For tourists from modern metropolises, Xitang is a place to experience a feeling of simplicity and leisure.

Transportation

Highway
From Shanghai to Xitang: Special Travel Bus Line: In Shanghai, you can wait in the Travel Collecting and Distributing Center of Shanghai (address: under the No. 5 escalator of Shanghai Stadium (waiting hall of traveling route)). Here the bus will deliver at 08:35 am (every day, including the guide service) and return at 16:30 pm or it will deliver at 09:00 am (only weekend, excluding the guide service) and return at 16:00 pm.

Hangzhou to Xitang: a) At Hangzhou Jiubao Distance Bus Station, bus departs at 6:50 am, 09:25am, 11:20am, 1:50 pm. Price: 37RMB/ per person.

The price of scenic spots
CNY 100 (tickets include both the scenic region and 11 sightseeing spots);
CNY 50 (tickets for the scenic region only) 
Opening Hours: Whole day

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