Boasting more than 1,000 years of history, Fengjing Ancient Town is one of Shanghai’s most charming water towns. Black and white houses and scarlet lanterns flank shady canals; ancient bridges, such as Yuan Dynasty Zhihe Bridge, reflect in the water; and folk artists create prized “peasant paintings”. The wedding museum is also charming.
Fengjing Ancient Town has a moderate entrance fee, and a few of the attractions within also charge for entry. Many visitors choose to visit as part of a tour, either of Fengjing alone or combined with another ancient Shanghai water town such as Xitang.
Fengjing tours typically cover attractions such as historic Zhihe Bridge and the wedding museum and include a boat ride and stops to sample mooncakes, millet wine, and other delicacies. Fengjing is famous for its folk art, so painting classes or demonstrations are other popular options.
Things to Know Before You Go
Bring cash. You can’t assume that Fengjing shops will take credit cards.
A boat trip through this fabled water town is a must with children.
Fans of Chinese regional food won’t want to miss out on the “Four Treasures of Fengjing”: millet wine, pork trotter, mooncake, and dried tofu.
How to Get There
Fengjing Ancient Town is about 43 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of Shanghai. To reach it by public transport, catch metro Line 1 to Jinjiang Park station, then ride the bus from West Meilong bus station to Fengjing station. If you don’t speak Chinese, you might find it easier to join a Fengjing tour or hire a private driver and guide.
When to Get There
Fengjing Ancient Town is open seven days a week from morning until afternoon. As with all canal towns, try to avoid visiting during China’s peak domestic tourist seasons, the Golden Weeks in early October and the Lunar New Year period (January or February). In winter, roughly mid-November to mid-March, even subtropical Shanghai can be surprisingly cold.
Southern China’s Water Towns
Built around a canal network that includes the mighty Grand Canal, southern China’s water towns have been drawing domestic tourists for centuries, even since they first grew wealthy on the proceeds of the Silk Road. Famous water towns such as Tongli, Wuzhen, Xitan, and Zhouzhuang, as well as less well-known towns like Fengjing, have been heavily reconstructed to recreate their historic charm.