Add:Xitang, Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province
Xitang (西塘) is an old water town in Zhejiang Province (浙江省), just outside of the Shanghai Municipality. It is an easy trip - at highway speeds less than 90 mins away and very worth the visit. If you have been to other water towns around Shanghai such as Zhouzhuang, Zhujiajiao or Tongli, only to be overwhelmed by the crowds, you will love Xitang.
Xitang has its old buildings, arch bridges and cobbled streets that are quite similar to other water towns. However Xitang does have its unique claim to fame: its button industry. One of the town's main attractions is a button museum, which features antique and new buttons made from an incredible variety of materials: horn, ivory, silver silk, brass, mother of pearl and bamboo to name a few.
According to the guides in the museum, Xitang produces the majority of buttons in China. When you think of all the clothes that are made in China, both for the domestic market and for export, that is a lot of buttons!
In addition, other interesting sights in the museum are the artisans and tradesmen demonstrating thier craft. You will be intriqued by the elderly women demonstrating how a traditional Chinese cloth button is tied -- the kind of buttons found on qipaos and other traditional clothing. There is also a group of elderly men demonstratig old button-making machinery. The old button makers, each of whom have had more than 50 years of experience working in the button industry used a series of old foot- powered machines in the past. Today, the button industry uses electric- powered, computerized machines that consume raw materials on one end and churn out buttons on the other.
Boat rides on the canals are available if you are tired. It is 80 Yuan for a boat that can carry up to 12 people. If you are fortunate enough, the boatman will sing to you.
Getting to Xitang: If you are driving, take the Yan'an Expressway (延安高素) to the Outer Ring Road (外环大道) . Head south on the Outer Ring Road. Look for signboards that direct you to the Shanghai - Hangzhou Expressway (沪杭高速) entrance. Head east (towards Hangzhou) on the expressway. Travel all the way to the end of the Shanghai part of the expressway where you will pass the tollgate and pay an exit toll of 30 Yuan. Beyond the tollgate is the Zhejiang part of the expressway. Do not zoom out of the tollgate bcause as soon as you pass through it, you have to exit the expressway.
Look out for a sign that says, Jiashan (嘉善), the county in which Xitang is located and Xitang. Although you have just entered the tollway you will have to pay a toll of 10 Yuan to exit. Indeed, it is a very expensive 100 metres. From the tollgate, it is about 12-km to Xitang. Upon exiting this tollgate, the road will fork. Stay to the right of the fork. When you reach Xitang, big picture billboards of the town will guide you. Turn right at the billboards and go to the end of the road. At the T-junction, make a left.
Just after turning left you will see the ticket booth on the right. Parking fee is 10 Yuan and the entrance fee to the town is 30 Yuan.
1. Official and free-lance guides will push you to hire their services for a fee. You do not need their services
Jiashan County, Jiaxing , Zhejiang Province
How to get there:
Shanghai - Kunming Expressway - Shanghai-Jiaxing - Huzhou Expressway - Xitang