Shanghai’s sleek, dynamic, and ultra modern vibe is part and parcel of its longtime role of financial capital of China. To get a sense of what commerce and trade were like in old China, however, you have to travel some 30 miles from modern-day Shanghai to the delightful water city of Zhujiaojiao, often called ”Shanghai’s Venice.”

Zhujiaojiao lies at the confluence of many rivers, including the Yangtze, making it an ideal location as a central trading hub for the all-important commodities of rice and cloth. Founded in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), many of the surviving structures buildings in Zhujiaojiao date back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties: delightful wooden and stone structures lining the meandering canals and narrow alleyways that make up this picturesque village.  Today, Zhujiaojiao is a draw not only to tourists, but to Shanghai’s burgeoning ”hipster” community, who have brought with them a penchant for trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants that might eventually see Zhujiaojiao eventually rechristened ”Shanghai’s Brooklyn.” 

The best ways to explore Zhujiaojiao is on foot or on the river.  Meandering through the narrow cobblestoned alleyways affords the opportunity to browse in the many souvenir stalls which line them and boast a good range of porcelain, wooden puzzles, cloth, and especially dragon-themed bibelots; the latter no doubt a nod towards the most famous of Zhujiaojiao’s 36 bridges: the Fangsheng or ”setting-fish-free” bridge, which is the longest and tallest, capped with eight coiled dragons.  
The ubiquitous six-seater gondolas, however, provide the best views of the historic city’s excellently preserved buildings such as the magnificent Yuanjin Buddhist temple.  This is the first choice for both photographers and history buffs and for good reason — at the slow pace of the oars, one can almost imagine one is back in Old Shanghai.  


Alexander + Roberts offer great ways to experience all that Asia and China have to offer, such as the small group China Sampler, always capped at sixteen guests.  

Posted: 7/18/2018 12:19:41 PM by Alexander + Roberts

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