Zhujiajiao, one of China’s oldest water towns with a history dating back 1,700 years, is located on Shanghai’s western outskirts in Qingpu district. Along the waterways are historic buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Once a major trading center, dozens of bridges connect the ancient streets now lined with stalls and restaurants featuring a tempting selection of local delicacies.
The best place to start is Bei Da Jie, and you should get there early as more people arrive with each passing hour. There you can nibble on all kinds of dried fruit.
A vendor weighs dried fruit and other snacks for purchase.
Dried persimmons, apricots, plums and more are among the snacks available at stalls throughout the water town.
For something more substantial try some delicious meaty snacks such as zharou (fatty pork braised in sweet soy sauce).
Or buy zongzi (pork and rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves) from the local shops dotting the town.
In between the fruit and meat stalls, you will find noodle experts handmaking spicy sweet potato ones.
Or go for our favorite snack: roasted soybeans with pickled turnips.
Home cooks can opt for jars of fresh chili sauce as a souvenir.
Bottles of fermented rice wine are another great way to remember your day trip.
Handalong Pickle and Sauce Shop has been around for over 100 years, and shopkeepers will let you sample to your heart’s content. Best of all, none of the snacks we purchased cost over RMB20.
When the crowds become too overwhelming, cross over to the comparatively serene Caohe Jie for a cup of tea, or sit down for lunch (RMB100-150 per person) at Fangsheng Bridge Restaurant. We recommend simple steamed fish, youbao xia (shrimp fried in seasoned soy) and tender pea shoots.
After your lunch break, take a final stroll before heading towards Metro Line 17 back to the city.
How to get there:
From People’s Square, take Metro Line 2 and transfer to Line 17 at Shanghai Railway Station. At Zhujiajiao Station, take Exit 1 and follow the signs to Zhujiajiao Ancient Town.
[All photos by Cristina Ng]