The Ancient Waterfront Towns in the South of Yangtze River
The Ancient Waterfront Towns in the South of Yangtze River is part of the Tentative list of China in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
2500 years ago, when Suzhou became a city, its surrounding areas sprouted a number of half-urban, half-rural towns such as Tongli, Luzhi, Wuzhen, Nanxun, and Xitang as distribution centers of goods, stimulated the growth of a water-based economy in the rural areas. Most of the towns have made full use of their nature-given geographical conditions to plan out their alleys, lanes and streets along rivers and waterways, thus creating a unique architectural style. Nowadays, they have still completely preserved the layout and settings in the late Chinese Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China period.
Map of The Ancient Waterfront Towns in the South of Yangtze RiverLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Have you seen the movie Mission Impossible 3 and ever wondered...wait, haven't? Okay, watch that first...done? Ok, good. So the last part of MI:3 was filmed in Xitang. You'd be surprised how many people think it is Suzhou because they think "canal + these bridges = Suzhou" as they went there for the gardens. Well, Suzhou has those canals and bridges but it is not the same. Also I heard people say that Suzhou would be the Venice of the East but actually that was the term also reserved for the water towns (and apparently Hoi An sometimes too). Seeing that the towns are so close to Suzhou I can understand the mistake. As a side note I booked the tour from Hangzhou but I bet public transport to at least one of the water towns is easy in this "Suzhou-Hangzhou-Shanghai delta".
I personally picked Wuzhen (as pictured) because for one the tour offering was better and second they told me this is the best preserved one of the four places. I think what they meant was that you get more shops but never mind that now.
When you go make sure it is not the deep summer. You will die of the humidity. The tour takes you on a boat ride through the village and then lets you freeroam for another hour or so. It is just enough time to stroll through the area, take pictures, avoid all souvenir shops and get a refreshing drink while doing so. The town is super authentic and every corner has picture opportunities. Whereas I enjoyed the trip I was hoping they would tell you more about the history of the town than just the facts you find on Wikipedia or the WHS description.
Includes the 4 former TWHS * The Ancient Town of Zhouzhuang (1998); The Ancient Venetian Township in the South of Yangtze River - Luzhi; The Ancient Venetian Township in the South of Yangtze River - Wuzhen; The Ancient Venetian Township in the South of Yangtze River - Xitang (2001)
2008 Added to Tentative List
The site has 4 locations