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Nanxun Ancient Town is not as famous as other water towns in South China, such as Zhouzhuang, Tongli, and Wuzhen. It is thanks to this that Nanxun has managed to retain its original features and traditional culture. It is recognized as the most authentic and tranquil water town.
With a history of over 1,400 years, the town came to prominence during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279) due to its prospering silk industry. In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), it was one of the important commercial centers.
Nanxun Water Town shares the typical features of other southern water towns: arched bridges, canals, narrow lanes, and old houses. But, for several reasons, Nanxun is the pick of the crop.
Walking alongside the canal in the old town, you will feel like you are walking into China's past. In addition to average houses, there are a few big family houses that accommodated well-known wealthy families. These houses often combine traditional Chinese styles with Western influences.
Little Lotus Garden (小莲庄) was a private garden of Liu Yong who was once the richest person in Nanxun. It is a fascinating mix of a garden, lake, pavilion, rockery, trees, and lotus flowers. It is one of the five most famous classic gardens in Nanxun.
The best time to visit the garden is in summer when the lotus pools are full of blooming flowers.
Besides enjoying its idyllic beauty, you will have a chance to see the traditional procedure for making Chinese writing brushes, and even make your own one.
Baijianlou (百间楼), or the "100 houses complex", is a perfect place to see the well-preserved traditional residential buildings.
Built 400 years ago, the houses extend along the canal for a length of 400 meters (1,300 feet). They are not restored and have kept their ancient and local charm. The Chinese old town lifestyle still exists there and can be seen along the canal by small numbers of tourists.
Liu's Family Compound (刘氏梯号) or Red House is a good example of the Chinese imitation of Western styles. It features a classical portico and a red-brick residence with French balconies and stained glass in the windows.
In this residence, you will have a chance to learn Chinese block printing, an old type of technology used for making books. You can try your hand at printing and use your own brush to write your name in Chinese.
Zhangshiming’s Former Residence (张石铭旧宅) is known as the “top private residence of the Jiangnan (southern part of the Yangtze River) region”, and is one of the few such residences remaining that retains their original appearance. It offers a unique mix of Western ballrooms and Confucian family altars.
Apart from historical sites, you will be impressed by a wedding show on the water. The boats are decorated with red flowers and ribbons, the bride and groom are dressed in the traditional Chinese style, and traditional music is played on ancient instruments. All of these depict how a traditional wedding was conducted in the ancient water town.
If you like, you can take part and play the bridegroom!
March to May is the best time to visit Nanxun when the weather is comfortable and the spring scenery is beautiful.
Fall is also a good season to travel Nanxun for the cool weather and clear sky.
Winter is quite cold (above freezing) in Nanxun, but driest, and you can enjoy a less-crowded time there. If you visit it in the heat of summer, avoid the midday crowds, and be careful of heatstroke.
You’d better avoid weekends and Chinese public holidays, such as Labor Day (May 1 to 7) and National Day (October 1 to 7), when Hangzhou is always crowded with Chinese people.
If you are tired of the commercial atmosphere, crowds, and noisy megaphones in Zhouzhuang and Tongli, you should pay a visit to Nanxun Water Town. Here are our most popular tours including Nanxun: