© Danita Delimont / Alamy

China’s Water Towns

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These six towns are a tranquil break from Shanghai, an hour’s drive away. Imagine stone bridges built during the Ming Dynasty that arch over canals streaming from the Yangtze River Delta, auspicious red lanterns that sway in the wind, and temples with roof eaves that curve upward like wings. And the secret’s out: towns like Zhouzhuang or Tongli can get crowded with visitors, many of them Chinese. 

How to Do It Right: Stay overnight at ZhengFu CaoTang in Tongli, or target the less-visited town of Nanxun, where American expat Tracy Lesh leads immersive full-day trips.

World's Most Beautiful Canal Cities

China’s Water Towns

These six towns are a tranquil break from Shanghai, an hour’s drive away. Imagine stone bridges built during the Ming Dynasty that arch over canals streaming from the Yangtze River Delta, auspicious red lanterns that sway in the wind, and temples with roof eaves that curve upward like wings. And the secret’s out: towns like Zhouzhuang or Tongli can get crowded with visitors, many of them Chinese. 

How to Do It Right: Stay overnight at ZhengFu CaoTang in Tongli, or target the less-visited town of Nanxun, where American expat Tracy Lesh leads immersive full-day trips.

© Danita Delimont / Alamy

World's Most Beautiful Canal Cities

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