After experiencing the hustle and bustle of Shanghai I highly suggest you take a day to venture out to Xitang.
Xitang is an Ancient Water Town located 90km from Shanghai. Filled with narrow cobbled streets, picturesque old bridges over canals and traditional buildings, this charming town is a way to experience traditional China. Oh and several Xitang locations were featured in Mission: Impossible III. They’re pretty excited about that.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to Xitang from Shanghai is via the bus (there is no train station in Xitang). There are tourist buses to Xitang from Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center and Shanghai South Long-Distance Bus Station. The bus takes around an hour and a half.
Where to stay
The accommodation options in Xitang are quite limited and basic. I would suggest staying in Shanghai and just taking a day trip to Xitang, however there are 2 well reviewed guesthouses located here.
What to do
Explore the ancient laneways
It feels like you’ve stepped back in time as soon as you enter Xitang, and I could have spent hours exploring the laneways. Poke through the shops, try local delicacies along the way or just admire the cobbled streets, hanging lanterns and traditional houses.
Take a boat ride
It costs around 20-30 Yuan to rent a traditional covered boat with a rower. It’s an enjoyable and relaxing 20 minute cruise down the river, giving you a different point of view of the town.
Eat all the snacks
Walking around Xitang is a snack-lovers paradise. There are so many foreign smells/shapes/textures to discover and I enjoyed sampling new local delicacies.
Deep fried quail eggs on a stick
Glutinous rice fish (nuomiyu). These are made from a sweet glutinous rice with a few red beans inserted.
A local chopping up chilis and garlic by the bucketful. Yum!
Fish shaped waffle-type casing with red bean paste inside.
Steamed buns (in the shapes of pigs and bears!) with red bean filling
Fruit flavoured doughnuts
What has been the most interesting snack you’ve tried whilst travelling?