The local tourism board has preserved this area, the land part being the Shen Wan San house with its ancient furniture and kitchen ware with the decoration either in stone art or copper art to tell the story of the business man. In the front compound, there are trishaws available to take you a ride round the park. You can visit the shops to buy some souvenirs and the famous stewed pig leg. Take a walk to the houses, there are villagers making handicrafts on the spot. I try to talk with them but their slang was rather hard to catch, so I just pretend to understand. The best gesture is smile.
Zhou Zhuang Water Village is famous because " Ju Bao Pen ", the story of the treasure bowl kept by a successful businessman - Shen WanSan who lived there. The Shanghai tourism board has rebuilt and preserve the water village since 1983. Tourist can buy stewed pig leg which is famous in this tourist spot. Take a ride to tour on the canal, tipping to the boatwoman you can hear them sing you a few song. If you are lucky, the musician on the land sings for you.
I visited Zhou Zhuang recently and enjoyed myself there. It is a beautiful water village, I took many pictures of the water village and it all turned out well because of it's picturesque background. I went to Zhou Zhuang by tour bus. I think it is better if you go there on the weekdays as I heard that weekends seem to be pack with people. I did not take the boat ride but i saw quite many who did. What was interesting and unique is that (depends on which person you get), when you are on the boat, the old lady that is rowing the boat may start singing a song, and very loudly too. Some might be embarras by it, but as for me, I feel that it is quite fascinating. But it all depends on who is rowing the boat, the old man normally, i think, do not sing. We went to a shop which sells painting of the water village. We bought a hand fan that has the drawing of the water village during winter. I like it very much... can take a look at this shop. I think the owner of the shop is Mr. Lou Ning.
As far as I'm concerned, Zhou Zhuang is a must see if you have some time in Shanghai. It is a town of canals and old houses and you can take a ride on a Gondola. It is only a 90 minutes bus ride so you could visit for one day if that's all the time you have. I stayed for a night, which I recommend as the hoardes of tourists depart by 4:00pm and you have the place to yourself. The beauty of the village can not be overestimated, you simply must visit. A photographers heaven.
Please see my Off the Beaten track tips for more information on this wonderful place.
Zhou Zhuang is an ancient town built on 8 islands that are connected by numerous bridges and waterways. The town is about 2 hours away from Shanghai by car. It would be a full day trip from Shanghai if you are interested in seeing this old Chinese town.