Finding Venice in China

WHILE the two giants – Beijing and Shanghai – battle it out for Chinese bragging rights, the small water town of Tongli harks back to a more traditional time. A slower-paced, gentler approach to what represents quality of life, but equally as impressive as the bullet train of growth in nearby Shanghai.

Far less illustrious than China’s burgeoning cities, the water towns in the triangle between Suzhou, Shanghai and Hangzhou embodies more than 1000 years of history. However, it is the pristine beauty of these antique towns that increasingly draw visitors from abroad. The Chinese have for centuries been well aware of the exquisite charm of the canal towns – an old Chinese proverb holding: In heaven there is paradise, and on earth there is Suzhou and Hangzhou.

The top 6 water towns near Shanghai are located in the Yangtze River Delta. Those who have been fortunate enough to visit will continue to debate the merits of the towns Zhouzhuang, Tongli, Xitang, Wuzhen, Nanxun and Luzhi. What remains incontrovertible is that these Little Venice’s’ of the East provides for breathtaking scenery, filled with stone bridges, cobbled lanes, ancient buildings, emerald gardens, the freshest river fare and unique attractions.

But don’t let me try and convince you with words, visit Tongli with me and have a look for yourself:

Tongli's Retreat Park is a living Chinese painting
Tongli’s Retreat Park is a living Chinese painting
The narrow canals and stone bridges is a photographer's dream
The narrow canals and stone bridges is a photographer’s dream
Restaurants populate Tongli's waterfront, dishing up delicious river fare
Restaurants populate Tongli’s waterfront, dishing up delicious river fare
A Little Venice in China
A Little Venice in China

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