Visit two picturesque Chinese towns, Suzhou and Zhouzhuang on a day trip from Shanghai. You'll see how daily life has remained unchanged over the centuries in these unique old towns. Visit the Suzhou's magnificent gardens, feast on a Chinese lunch and travel through Zhouzhuang's waterways on a Chinese-style gondola.
Founded in around 600 B.C., Suzhou is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze basin and is known for its beautiful gardens. With its interconnected waterways and beautiful environment, the city is often referred to as the Venice of the East. Suzhou was one of the few cities in China to escape the ravages of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution and its famous gardens survived almost intact. Upon arrival in Suzhou, your first stop is the Net Master Garden, the town's best example of a model Ming Dynasty garden. The gardens embody the harmonious principles of Chinese garden construction, which dictate that gardens should re-create a microcosm of the universe in a confined space. After enjoying Suzhou's gardens, you'll view the town's ancient city wall and Grand Canal. You'll also take a tour of a silk-spinning factory to see how Chinese silk has been produced since the 14th century. After lunch, it's time to visit the water village of Zhouzhuang and board a Chinese-style gondola to cruise the town's beautiful waterways. Zhouzhuang's simple, well-preserved architecture dates back more than 900 years. The majority of residences were built in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and nearly 100 classic courtyards and 60 carved-brick archways are still in use. In this water village, locals live their life on the waterways, continuing to carry out everyday activities on the water, from washing clothes to shopping from vendors in boats.