Who’s the Favorite Water Town Star, Tongli or Zhouzhuang?

You want to see the real ancient water town in Suzhou, China but find it hard to make a perfect decision between Tongli Water Town and Zhouzhuang Water Town? That is really a hang-up! Both two water towns are the top famous and highly reputed by numerous visitors, so, what on earth are the main characteristics of the two old water town stars??


Zhouzhuang is near 1,000 years old and is praised as the “No. 1 Water Town in China”.

  • Old Bridges

There are as many as 14 ancient stone bridges of different shapes in Zhouzhuang, which provides a good chance to walk on to view Zhouzhuang in diverse angles. Also, the water running windingly through the bridges adds more fun to your tour.


The Old Bridge in Zhouzhuang

  • Ancient Paths

Zhouzhuang leaves a lot of antique flavors to its paths. Walking on the mostly centuries-old paths paved with stone bars and blocks, you will easily feel the old feature of Zhouzhuang, especially when watching the mottled houses along.


Ancient Stone Paths in Zhouzhuang

  • Former Residences

It is a “convention” to visit Shen’s House to know about the life story of Sheng Wansan who was the top richest people by trading with businessmen in other provinces and countries in Ming dynasty, to visit Home of Yifei to appreciate the living place of the famous painter Chen Yifei whose painting work of Zhouzhuang has shaken the world when exhibited in the gallery of Armand Hamer, etc.

Zhouzhuang Water Town

Shen’s House is Zhouzhuang

  • Prosperous Old Town

Zhouzhuang people still keep the honorable tradition of doing business. Wandering to see stores and restaurants along the banks and paths is a good try to savor the old business culture of Zhouzhuang.

Zhou Zhuang

Local People Keep Doing Business by Their Own Skills

  • Sculling Boat Tour

Enjoy the sculling boat if you go there! Day tour is great to appreciate the willow trigs hanging above, passersby, shops, and old houses passing by. With the singing of the boat puller, time can easily go back remotely. Night tour is more romantic. Colorful shining lights in the stores and along the banks will dizzy you, and the quiet river with faint lights offers you another silent charm of Zhouzhuang Water Town.

Zhouzhuang Tour

Enjoy the Sculling Boat in Zhouzhuang


Tongli of over 1,000 years is regarded as the “Oriental Venice”

  • Flat paths

Tongli has many wide and flat streets that are paved with slabstones, along with many stores and restaurants. Roaming on them is of more leisure and relaxation. Furthermore, there are some cabined bumpy ways linking the old residences for you to feel the different tastes.

Tongli Water Town

Flat Wide Street in Tongli

  • Typical Suzhou gardens

Several traditional Suzhou gardens with houses, inner gardens, water, rockeries, and ornamental windows… give Tongli rich elegance. Among them, the Retreat & Reflection Garden listed as the World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO will surprise you, because view changes when you move steps. Especially in the inner garden, you can get the diverse views from the old stone door, pavilions, bridge, secular boat…


Fantastic Garden in Tongli

  • Serene Water Town

Tongli has many local residents in the tourist area, so you can savor the real scene and leisure life of them. With fewer visitors in Tongil, You can completely enjoy every moment strolling on the old streets and bridges, admire the historic buildings taking a boat along the river, or sipping the quiet life in a local restaurant, etc.

Tongli Suzhou

Quiet Tongli Like a Painting

  • Night View

Tongli is actually like a beautiful lady at night. The red lanterns hanging along the streets and rivers make Tongli a conventional Chinese lady, lights drawing the outlines of structures and the green lights against the trees dress it like a sexy and mysterious woman, but the shining lights and spotlights in the stores and pubs change Tongli into a modern fashionable girl. All are worth for your discovery!

Tongli Ancient Town

Romantic Night View of Tongli Water Town

My Experience

I visited Tongli and Zhouzhuang last October. And for me, Tongli is good to see the daily life of local residents and savor the quiet charm of the water town. It is really graceful like a Chinese ink painting at daytime, especially in rainy days, and the night view here makes it particularly romantic and serene. The gardens in the water town really gave me great surprises. However, Zhouzhuang as a tourist attraction is more mature, since the local business people ensure the town more prosperous, which is a great chance to imagine the ancient prosperity there. Besides the so worthy old houses of famous people and oil-painting-like sceneries, I enjoyed the night boating on the river very much, and believe it also great to do during daytime.

Both water towns are super good with their own features and worth to pay a visit. It is perfect to enjoy both if you have enough time. But if in a short trip, Tongli is the typical favorite of a visitor who seeks the quiet leisure moment to see the daily life of Chinese ancient towns; for fun-likers, Zhouzhuang with more interest and night boating is a better choice.

If you interested in the beatiful water towns, please go and take  2 Days Best Suzhou & Tongli Water Village Tour or 2 Days Best Suzhou & Zhouzhuang Water Village Tour. Or, you can customize your Suzhou tour with China Discovery.

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