The Ultimate Guide to Wuzhen Water Town
April 13, 2019
Established over 1,300 years ago, Wuzhen Water Town (乌镇水乡) is one of the top six ancient towns in the southern region of the Yangtze River. Due to its fertile land, the water town has been praised as a land with abundant rice, fish and silk since the olden days. The little bridges connecting streets along the river, houses on the banks and stone-paved alleys give Wuzhen Water Town a nostalgic charm. Although some people dislike its commercial atmosphere and the crazy crowds, I felt that the restored architecture and canals in Wuzhen Water Town are still worth a visit. The water town is divided into 4 areas – the eastern and western parts are scenic zones which require an entry ticket while the southern and northern parts are living quarters for the locals. Here’s a complete guide to help you plan your trip to Wuzhen Water Town:
Getting to Wuzhen Water Town from Hangzhou
Bus (Highly Recommended)
The bus at Hangzhou Jiubao Bus Station (九堡客运中心) near the Hangzhou East Railway Station leaves for Wuzhen Water Town Bus Station at 7am daily, with a frequency of around 20 minutes. It only costs 32RMB (one-way), and the journey takes about 2 hours. However, you’ll have to either take a 20 minutes’ walk or 5 minutes’ bus ride from Wuzhen Water Town Bus Station to the Scenic Zone.
There is another bus option from the Hangzhoucheng bus centre (杭州城站客运站) that’s nearer to Hangzhou Railway Station. The first bus departs at 7.30am, with a frequency of 30 minutes. The ticket costs 31RMB (one-way), and the journey takes around 1.5 hours. This bus will bring you directly to the Wuzhen Water Town Scenic Zone.
Train + Bus / Taxi
There isn’t any direct train departing from Hangzhou to Wuzhen Water Town but you can first take the high-speed train from Hangzhou East Station (杭州东站) to Tongxiang station(桐乡站) before taking the public buses K282 or K231 near Tongxiang station to Wuzhen Water Town Scenic Area. The duration of the train ride is between 20 and 30 minutes, with the cheapest ticket priced at 21.50RMB. The bus ride only costs 2RMB and takes approximately 40 minutes. You can also take a taxi from Tongxiang station, and depending on your negotiation skills and the size of your group, the fare is around 100RMB.
Taxi / DiDi
Of course, you can also take a taxi or hire a DiDi (if you have the app) and enjoy a fuss-free journey all the way from Hangzhou to Wuzhen Water Town. This method takes around 1.5 hours, or sometimes, even longer due to the traffic conditions. This is also the most expensive method. A one-way trip usually costs more than 300RMB with toll fees included.
Getting around Wuzhen Water Town
You can cover all attractions in the East Scenic Zone on foot but if you’re not a fan of walking too much, you should take a boat ride in the West Scenic Zone since the area is larger than the eastern zone. Remember to negotiate the pricing of your boat ride with the operators or boatmen.
There is a free shuttle bus that takes you to and fro the East Scenic Zone and West Scenic Zone. The bus ride takes approximately 8 to 10 minutes. I do not recommend walking from one zone to the other even though it’s tempting to avoid the crowd.
West Scenic Zone
Personally, I prefer the western zone to the eastern zone. It is less crowded, more spacious to stroll around, and more tranquil in the day. It is also better preserved and more charming as compared to the eastern zone. There is a wide variety of cultural attractions such as the indigo fabric workshop, the wedding museum, the Chinese footbinding museum, a few temples and the beautiful pagoda. I also came across many resort hotels of different prices in the west scenic zone.
East Scenic Zone
This zone features many boutiques and eateries. I recommend visiting the West Scenic Zone in the morning before heading to the East Scenic Zone for lunch. This zone showcases many interesting attractions such as the ancient bed museum, folk customs museum, wine distillery workshop, shadow play theatre, huagu opera, and martial arts performance. However, it is so crowded that you have to push your way through tour groups along the narrow alleys. I dislike crowded places, so I only spent an hour exploring this zone before calling it a day.
Whether rain or shine, I believe that Wuzhen Water Town is still a spectacular sight. It’s good to bring an umbrella with you as the weather changes quickly and unexpectedly over there. I would think that the best time to visit this water town is between March and October since it’s pretty close to Hangzhou and has a similar climate with Hangzhou. Last but not least, I would urge you to visit Wuzhen Water Town without joining a tour group as you’ll get more time to wander around at your own leisure pace.