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Zhujiajiao – the Venice of Shanghai

Signage for Zhujiajiao

Zhujiajiao is slightly less than thirty miles from Shanghai, but it feels worlds away. The village is a typical water town established under the Ming Dynasty. Once a mercantile center for textiles and rice, Zhujiajiao now welcomes tourists to its canals and traditional shopping area.

Canal at Zhujiajiao


Typical activities are strolling along the half mile Great North Street and taking a sampan ride along the waterways.

Great North Street is the best preserved street in Zhujiajiao, still bustling with craft and food shops. It’s a pleasant stroll with shade trees and picture post card views across the canal. Crafts include masks, bells, and flutes.



Shop Front










Interesting aromas also abound. One local street food delight is zongzi, the bamboo leaves surrounding a pork filling. Can’t tell you how it tastes, but it’s very popular.

Pork dish

View from a Sampan

My favorite part of the visit was viewing Zhujiajiao from a sampan. Watching the boatman reminded of the gondoliers of Venice.

Sampan Boatman

Canal sight










Fangsheng Bridge


Among the sights is Fangsheng Bridge, also known as ‘Fish Setting Free’ Bridge, one of thirty-six stone bridges spanning the waterways. Built in 1751 during the Ming Dynasty, the Fangsheng Bridge is the longest, largest, and tallest of the bridges. It also features the famous Dragon Gate Stone with eight coiling dragons surrounding a single shining pearl representing wealth.

Buddhism exerts a strong influence here, and Fangsheng Bridge is famous for the practice of freeing the fish by releasing them back into the water. The person returning the fish receives a blessing. Of course, there’s nothing to prevent the fish being caught and released again and again.

I enjoyed Zhujiajiao, though like many places we saw, the authorities had made it too perfect. But it was a beautiful, and we enjoyed being out of the city. I’ve added a CNN travel video so you can see more of Zhujiajiao.


Photos by Author. All Rights Reserved.

For More Information:

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town. Travel China Guide.


Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.


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