Tongli is an ancient water town in east China's Jiangsu Province. Tongli enjoys fame across China for its beautiful rivers, historic bridges and opulent court yard homes. With a history spanning over 1000 years, this water town has long been a mecca for tourists, who are not only drawn by its architecture and waterways but also the vibrant local culture.
In China's north, spring passes by much too quickly. Before people make their plans and pack their bags for a spring getaway, it is already gone. The latest spring fashions remain tucked away in the closet as people relax in their air-conditioned lounge rooms in their summer T-shirts and shorts while watching TV.
But for those who still want to show off their new spring clothes and enjoy the warm sunshine, cool breeze and refreshing drizzle, fortunately, there is an option - taking a trip to the South.
In East China, especially Jiangnan - the areas just to the South of the Yangtze River, spring is still very much with us. It is the best season to drink green tea and taste fresh bamboo shoots. As god as that sounds, things only get better if one can do all that in a beautiful historic water town.
There are numerous ancient riverside towns in Jiangnan, particularly in the south of Jiangsu Province and the northern parts of Zhejiang Province. Tongli Town in Wujiang City, Jiangsu Province, is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful. What's more, it is not as crowded with tourists as neighboring Zhouzhuang and provides the perfect spring getaway.
Originally named Fushi, Tongli rests on the eastern shore of Lake Taihu, about 80 kilometres west of Shanghai and 18 kilometres south of Suzhou. Built at the center of five small lakes, the town is further divided into seven islands by 15 canals. In fact it feels as if the town floating on the water.
Because of the landscape, almost all of the buildings are constructed along the waterfront. Sets of stairs leading to the canals can be found in front of almost every building, providing locals with easy access to the water. Not surprisingly, life in this picturesque town pretty much revolves around the waterways. Everyday you can see locals venturing down to the water to wash clothes. Apart from that, the canals also serve as the town's main mode of transport.
The water also creates reflections of the town's arched roofs, lofty gables and stone bridges while green willows also line the banks can. This creates a truly poetic atmosphere.
One of Tongli's most famous features is its stone bridges. There are 49 in all linking the many sections of the town, with each bridge having its own name and often also displaying a distinct design. Many also boast fascinating stories, sometimes going back centuries.
Other famous water towns in China: Zhouzhuang, Luzhi, Wuzhen, Xitang, Nanxun
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