Xitang Water Town is a beautiful town that seems like a completely different world from the hustle and bustle of nearby Shanghai. Cobbled streets, old buildings, bridges arching over canals, rowing boats lingering on the river, and locals singing folk songs are the features of 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.
Something that makes Xitang so special is its numerous bridges. Xitang is flat, and there are 9 waterways which split the town into 8 areas. 104 bridges connect the areas together, each built in varying styles spanning the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. Some look like rainbows over the river, and others like long flutes.
Ancient lanes are another feature of Xitang. The narrow lanes connect streets, waterways, and houses. Each lane in Xitang has its own name. 68-meter-long Shipi Lane is the most famous lane in Xitang. The widest part of this lane is 110 cm and the narrowest part is only 80 cm. The long lane creates a vertical sliver of sky. The longest lane is Sixianci Lane, at 236 meters.
The long covered footpaths are the most unique feature of Xitang. They make Xitang different from other water towns. The covered walkways were actual roads with roofs. Now there are chairs there for people to enjoy a leisurely rest by the canals. You don’t have to worry about rainy days or strong sunlight in the hot summers.
Xitang Combo Ticket: includes 11 sights in Xitang, e.g. Five Girls Theme Park — 100 yuan (16.5 USD)
Xitang Night Travel Ticket: available after 3pm — 50 yuan (8 USD).
Night Boating (for 25 minutes at 6pm, 6:30pm, 7pm, 7:30pm, 8pm): 280 yuan (45 USD) for 8 people, or 40 yuan (6.5 USD)/person; with a combo or night ticket: 150 yuan (25 USD) for 8 people, or 20 yuan (3.5 USD)/person
Direct buses are generally easier, cheaper, and faster than trains for nearby cities. Ordinary trains stop at Jiashan Station, 10 km (6 mi) south of Xitang. We don’t recommend the bullet train at present, as Jiashan and Jiaxing stations are inconveniently located and transport is currently unreliable.
Shanghai South Bus Terminal (上海长途汽车南站, on Liuzhou Road 柳州路) has 12 direct buses to Xitang (07:10, 08:00, 08:47, 09:57, 10:57, 11:57, 12:47, 14:17, 15:17, 16:20, 17:00, 17:54) — 1 hour, 32 yuan (5.5 USD).
Shanghai Bus Terminal (上海沪东长途客运总站, Shanghai’s main bus terminal at 1666 Zhongxin Road) has eight direct buses to Xitang (07:20, 08:30, 10:10, 12:10, 14:10, 15:20, 17:10, 18:30) — 1½ hours, 32 yuan (5.5 USD).
By ordinary train (Shanghai South – Jiashan): 36–48 minutes, 13 yuan (2 USD)
By bullet train (from Shanghai Hongqiao – Jiashan South): 25–35 minutes, 30 yuan (5 USD)
From Suzhou Railway Station’s north square there are six daily buses departing two-hourly to Xitang: 1 hour, 32 yuan (5.5 USD).
By ordinary train: NOT recommended (2 trains 03:49, 04:45! 2½h+!)
By bullet train (from Suzhou or Suzhou North – Jiashan South): about 1 hour, 70 yuan (12 USD)
From Hangzhou (Jiubao) Bus Station there are four direct buses (06:50, 09:25, 11:20, 13:50): 2 hours, 38 yuan (6.5 USD).
By ordinary train (Hangzhou or Hangzhou East – Jiashan): about 1 hour, 17 yuan (3 USD)
By bullet train (Hangzhou or Hangzhou East – Jiashan South): 30–50 minutes, 47 yuan (8 USD).
From Nanjing Long-Distance Bus Station take the 14:40 bus to Jiashan Bus Terminal: 3 hours, 97 yuan (16 USD).
By ordinary train: NOT recommended (2 trains 01:06, 02:07! 5½ hours!)
By bullet train Nanjing South – Jiashan South — 08:48, 18:14): about 2 hours, 163 yuan (28 USD).
From Jiaxing North Bus Station take the K152 (we don't recommend other buses) — 1 hour, 6 yuan (1 USD). For more convenience, a taxi costs around 100 yuan (16.5 USD).
Jiashan Railway Station (for normal trains) has bus K210 — 40 minutes, 2 yuan. A taxi costs 40 yuan (6.5 USD).
Jiashan Bus Terminal (200m SE of the train station) has similar buses direct to Xitang: K215 and K216.
Jiashan South Railway Station (for bullet trains): We don’t recommend this at present, as there is no public transport from there, only unlicensed taxis to Xitang for around 20 yuan (3.5 USD).
In Xitang there is a diverse choice of hotels and hostels, which can be divided into two types. On weekdays the price for a hotel is around 100 to 300 yuan. At weekends or holidays the price increases significantly.
There are many formal hotels inside the ancient town and the price is acceptable, being no different to hotels in the cities. The only difference is that the rooms look simpler. The most popular is the Xitang Holiday Inn (three-star) near the Water Town entrance.
No matter whether daytime or night, when you open a window you can always see the beautiful there, and get some fresh air. Most of the hostels are rebuilt from old houses, so the rooms are very small, and noisy when people are talking next door. Especially during summer, the mosquitoes everywhere are a problem.