How To Visit Xitang From Shanghai: Best Day Trip From Shanghai, China

Xitang is one of the best day trips from Shanghai. This guide tells you how to visit Xitang from Shanghai and what to do in Xitang.

This blog contains occasional affiliate links, where I receive a small commission on sales of the products/hotels that are linked at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

When I went to China the most recent time, I made it a point to visit as many places as I can outside of the major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. I started researching all the water towns and ancient villages in China that are generally off foreign traveler’s radar.

Xitang is a water town about an hour away from Shanghai; it became very famous because Mission Impossible III was filmed there.

It is also one of the more popular town to visit due to its beautiful scenery, amazing food, vibrant nightlife, and its close proximity to Shanghai.  It took me a while to figure out how to visit Xitang from Shanghai so I thought I’d share all the information I found.

Although Xitang is still very popular among Chinese local tourists, I did not see many foreigners when I was there. I don’t know if it’s because there isn’t enough information on this place, but I think this is definitely worth an overnight day trip if you are already in Shanghai.

Xitang Day Trip from Shanghai

What Is A Water Town?

If you have been to Venice then you know what a water town is! These towns are ancient and built on complex canal system. Due to geographical reasons, the Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai area have numerous water towns and therefore are called Venice of the East.

Unfortunately they have all become extremely touristy and are not as authentic as one would like to see. But even with all the tourists and crowds, they are still cool to visit especially if you are not from China.

When to Go to Xitang

Xitang is open all year round, but is the most popular in the spring because of flowers booming and the cooler weather. In the summer it’s scorching hot and extremely humid with a high of 40C (104F) during the day. It occasionally snows in the winter, which is a sight not to be missed.

Xitang does not “close” but there are several attractions (museums, houses, etc) that are open between 8am to 5pm if you are interested in visiting. However, I wasn’t really interested to pay to see houses and courtyards with the crowd during the day, so I skipped all that.

Night time is actually the best time to walk around Xitang because of all the lights, lanterns and the vibrant night life. If time allows, it’s best to spend one night in Xitang and stay in a room on the water.

Due to its proximity to some of the major cities, Xitang gets really crowded on the weekends and during Chinese national holidays. So if you are planning to visit during the weekend, make sure to book bus tickets and hotel rooms early to avoid disappointments.

Xitang best day trip from Shanghai

How To Get To Xitang From Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou

Just a note that in China the best way to purchase bus tickets is through WeChat (the chatting app that actually does everything). What you have to do, assuming you already have an active WeChat, is to follow the bus stations like “长途客运南站”, and the mini app within WeChat allows you to search for bus times and even purchase tickets.

WeChat does have a translate function, so you may be able to use that to buy your tickets!

By Tour: If you don’t want to bother navigating the Chinese public transportation system, then the easiest way is to take a tour from Shanghai to Xitang. This is a day tour so you won’t be spending the night there, but you can see where Tom Cruise filmed Mission Impossible 3 and get a meal.

By Bus: Bus is perhaps the cheapest and easiest option to get to Xitang from major cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou by yourself. There are direct buses to Xitang departing from various bus stations.

  • Shanghai Long-Distance Passenger Transport South Station (长途客运南站): Accessible by Subway line 1 & 3. You can buy the tickets when arriving at the station, but you can also try to buy it online from WeChat, especially for a weekend.

    The bus ticket from Shanghai to Xitang is around 43 RMB one way and they will assign you a seat number on the bus. The ride takes around 1 hour. When you arrive in Xitang, the bus station is about 10 minute walk from one of the entrances into the historical center. Or you can have your hotel pick you up from the bus station.
  • Shanghai Long Distance Bus Station (长途汽车客运总站): Accessible by Subway line 1, 3, 4. The departure time to Xitang starts at 7:20am
  • Another cheaper way to get to Xitang from Shanghai is to take the subway to Zhujiajiao, then take the bus to Xitang for 15 RMB. But I would not recommend this for tourists especially if you cannot speak Chinese.
  • If you are coming to Xitang from Hangzhou, the bus costs between 38-42 RMB and takes 2 hours. You can take the bus from the following stations:
    • Passenger Transport Central Station
    • East Railway Highway Bus Station
  • From Suzhou it costs around 40 RMB and takes 1.5 hour from the following 2 stations:
    • Passenger Transport Station on the North Square of Suzhou Railway Station
    • South Bus Station

By Car: If you have a car/ driver, then this may be the most convenient option for you. It’s about 1 hour and 10 min by car on G60 (沪昆高速) from Shanghai. Since you cannot use Google Maps in China, Baidu Map may be the best option for navigation.

By Train: Train is not the best way to Xitang there as you will need to switch to bus/taxi after you get off the train.

  • The high speed train leaves from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station (虹桥火车站)(accessible by Subway Line 10). Take the high speed train to Jiashan County South Station (嘉善南站). Once you get out of the train station, look for bus K222 to (西塘景区). The bus should cost about 2 RMB. See timetable below for the K222 bus from Jiashan South Station to Xitang (every 40 min, takes about half hour to get to Xitang)
    1、Jiashan South Station to Xitang,7:30am to 9:30pm:
    07:30,07:55,08:20,08:55,09:20,09:50,10:05,11:00,11:20,12:00,12:25,12:55,13:30,14:00,14:25,14:50,15:10,15:55,16:20,16:40,17:00,17:30,17:55,18:10,18:25,18:50,19:25,20:15,20:45,21:30,2、Xitang to Jiashan South Station,8:15am to 9:30pm:
  • Or if you take the regular train to Jiashan Station (嘉善站) (this is a different station from Jiashan South Station), find Bus K210 to Xitang Station (西塘汽车站). The journey takes about 25 minutes. The last bus is around 5:30pm, after that you will need to get a taxi.

Note that there are always cars waiting outside of these train stations to take tourists to Xitang. They are not legal taxis, but rather people who use their personal car (or van) to make money. They generally get a few people to fill the car before they leave. It may sounds shady but it’s a very common practice in China.

Xitang travel guide from Shanghai

Xitang Entrance Fee (And How To Avoid It)

As with any Chinese tourist attraction, Xitang water town is a “scenic area” so it caters almost exclusively to tourists. There are several entrance to get into the scenic area, but there are people there selling/ checking tickets.

Ticket cost 100 RMB officially but they can be bought online for about USD 13 dollars. The ticket includes entrance to several “sights” in Xitang. These sites include museums, gardens, and some famous houses. I personally did not bother with any of them since I only really cared about food and walking around.

If you are staying in a hotel in Xitang, your hotel can generally get you 50% off if you ask the hotel reception desk.

Since most of the “attractions” in Xitang opens from 8am to 5pm, if you get to Xitang before 8 or after 4:30pm in the afternoon then you don’t need to pay for tickets. I got to Xitang myself around 5pm and didn’t pay a dime to get in. I also think night time is the most beautiful with all the lights and lanterns everywhere.

Where to Stay in Xitang

You can stay both inside the Xitang scenic area or right outside. It is generally a little cheaper to stay outside and more expensive to stay in a room by the river with balcony inside the scenic area.

Rooms By The River

The hotels with rooms by the river are the most popular (and touristy) accommodations in Xitang. They generally cost between 100-300RMB a night depending on the season and how nice the hotel is.

You may also want to consider the one with wooden beds like the one in the photos below. They are supposedly the most traditional type of bed you can get versus a more modern interior.

The hotel I stayed at below is no longer available but you can stay at this hotel or this hotel for a similar feel. Be sure to have your passport with you when checking in, as China is very strict when it comes to keep records and knowing the whereabouts of foreign visitors.

Xitang Hotel
Hotel in Xitang by the water

There used to be more hotel and even hostel options for foreigners but unfortunately since the pandemic, it seems like a lot of the hotels are no longer available. Your best bet to look for accommodation in Xitang is to look on Chinese based websites like

What To Do and See in Xitang

Xitang is not a big town but there are plenty to do from morning to night. Below are some of the best things to do in Xitang as a day trip.

Visit tourist sites in Xitang

There are about 11 official tourist sites in the Xitang historical area. If you buy a ticket then these scenic spots should be included in the ticket price. Some of the main attractions include the following:

Houses: these are houses that used to belong to either famous people or rich families that are now open to tourists

Museums: there are a few museums that show historical crafts, wine museum, etc.

Bridges: since it’s a water town, there are plenty of different bridges that are nice to take photos of [Free of charge]

Corridors: Xitang is known for covered corridors by the water, so make sure to walk around these [Free of charge]

Explore Xitang Bar Street at night

Xitang has a famous street called Bar Street (Jiubajie) that, as you may have guessed, has a lot of bars and clubs. It’s probably the loudest and most happening place in Xitang at night. I have to say it’s quite interesting to have a club in the middle of an ancient town.

Xitang Bar Street

Take a boat on the canal

I wish I had a chance to do this as this looks something totally romantic and peaceful. You will have to pay separately for the boat ride and can do this both during the day and at night.

Xitang Boat Ride

Enjoy the Xitang Sunset

Xitang is pretty at any time of the day but there is something to be said about its sunset. You should definitely try to take a boat ride around sunset time or simply walk around to wait for the sun to go down.

Xitang Sunset


Explore Xitang at night

I went on a lantern hunt at night and was not disappointed! It’s very safe to walk around Xitang at night so don’t worry about safety! Instead you will find cute streets and shops and cool bars when you explore a little bit at night. There are a lot of people walking around at night in Xitang as well.

Xitang at night

Xitang at night

Where and What to Eat in Xitang

Xitang is known for some really local and delicious food in the region, so you will find plenty of restaurants, bars and even street food vendors in Xitang as you walk around and explore. However, I don’t think there are many western things, so if you are expecting to find McDonalds or KFC you may be disappointed.

Street Food in Xitang

Street food is big in Xitang (and the rest of China). When you walk around at night you will see all the Xitang street vendors selling all sorts of things.

A few noteworthy things to eat in Xitang include stinky tofu, mao tofu (similar to stinky tofu but has white thin hair on the tofu), tofu flower (silken tofu in bowl), glutinous rice dumplings, Maltose Candy (maiyatang), yellow cake, yellow rice wine, wonton, etc.

Xitang Street Food
Dumplings, Stinky Tofu
Streetfood in Xitang

Restaurants in Xitang

While doing my research on what to eat in Xitang, I came across a few restaurants that are known for their local dishes, which include salt & pepper pumpkin, steamed fish, stir fry whelk with sauce.

Laopinfang (老品芳): One of the most popular restaurants in Xitang. Address: 西塘古镇北栅街39号 [Just copy and paste the address in your Baidu Map].

Qizhanglou (七张桌精品餐馆): 西塘风景区北栅街11号

Xitang Mengli Shuixiang (西塘梦里水乡农家菜): 西塘镇北栅街17号

Xitang YulouChun (西塘玉楼春饭店): 西塘古镇景区内烟雨长廊塔湾街

Keep in mind that the best way to pay for food is to use AliPay or WeChat Pay, all the vendors now have QR codes that you can scan to pay. If you give them cash, they will have to accept it, but they may not have changes to give back to you.

Final Thought on Visiting Xitang from Shanghai

If you have a chance to visit Shanghai, a day trip to Xitang is not to be missed. People there are friendly and you can always ask younger people to help you get around! If you have never been to China and are interested to visit, don’t miss my post on how to plan your first trip to China as well as my 1 week China itinerary and 3 week China itinerary.

Like this post? Pin this How To Get to Xitang Guide to Pinterest!

Pinterest Pin: how to get to Xitang from Shanghai