Visiting Jinxi Ancient Water Town In China (锦溪古镇)

in travel •  last year

Jinxi is one of the lesser known water towns in China. It is less than 100 km northwest of Shanghai, part of Suzhou City, making it one of the most accessible water towns to visit. It is next to the Chenmudang water body which flows into Dianshan Lake

On one of our Photoparadise photo tours to China, we decided to use Jinxi as the starting point specifically because of its close proximity to Shanghai while also creating a great photo opportunity for the first night of our tour. We wanted a place close to Shanghai because some members of the group only arrived late afternoon in Shanghai. We needed a place to stay within about 3 hour’s drive from the city centre (taking peak traffic into account).

Being lesser known, we were the only photographers in the town (arriving on Friday evening with the plan to leave the Saturday around midday) which is a rare sighting in modern China.

On our way to Jinxi, we first stopped for dinner resulting in us arriving at Jinxi just after sunset (in the rain).

On arrival at Jinxi, we were welcomed by the sight of the well-known traditional Chinese bridge lit up against the dim light of the early evening.

Being dedicated photographers, the light drizzle did not stop us from making use of the dark and wet situation to create some special moody photographs before retiring to bed.

We slept in a hotel in one of the old buildings right on the water’s edge. The name of the hotel is 燕月楼 which roughly translates to “The moon swallow's tower”. Based on the fact that the name is written from right to left I deducted that this is a really old building which is still in a great shape!

The next morning most of us were up before sunrise (most likely as a result of the jetlag or maybe just the excitement of the beginning this adventure) to explore the village with our cameras.

It was interesting to see that the villagers were obviously used to getting many tourists over weekends as everybody was in a rush to get the village in a presentable manner before the people arrive. Some were sweeping the walkways, others were sweeping the waterways while other was just busy with their daily chores like doing the washing.

All along the walkways, locals were busy erecting makeshift markets hoping to sell it to the tourists on arrival.

Fish Patterns - Details at the Saturday Street market in Jinxi Ancient Water Town

Fish Patterns - Details at the Saturday Street market in Jinxi Ancient Water Town

Like most of these water towns, it also features the typical gondoliers and at 9 am that morning when they opened for business, we made use of their service to take us on a waterway tour through the town. All the gondoliers in the town were ladies, all dressed up in a blue uniform with a pink headscarf (some with straw hats to shield against the sun).

The gondolas made great subjects in a travel photography portfolio.

All in all, we had a really good time in this little village and will most likely visit it again in the future.

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I very much enjoyed this little journey @johannvdwalt. Is Jinxi near Wuzhen by any chance? The atmosphere of these water towns seem very similar. Well... replace the romantic gondolas with 20-seater boats and a few thousand more tourists and you've got Wuzhen! I like your photography and the variety of images you chose to feature. Will you be doing a China series? If so, I look forward to it :)


Thank you. We are again going to China on 15 December and like always, these look-back articles are to get me in the mood for what lies ahead. I have quite a number of stories about that trip, so maybe they will become a series... I think the next one could be about Gaoyou - our Geese chasing experience!


Forgot to mention about Wuzhen. Wuzhen is a bit further and more to the south of Shanghai. I specifically did not choose Wuzhen because of its over-commercialization. And we were also on our way to Gaoyou which is more to the north, so it would have made our next day's journey much longer.
But, I must later tell a story about my visit to Wuzhen which pre-dated this trip by two years...


Geese chasing haha! That's going to be an interesting one as well.
I visited Wuzhen on a day trip from Hangzhou, where I lived. It was indeed a little too crowded... that's actually an understatement! Good for one day but would now probably recommend Jinxi for a more authentic experience.
Bring on the series!! I'm a huge fan of Asian travel series :)

Nice!!!!I didn't visit here before, your pictures are beautiful!

哈喽!感谢你对cn区 的大力支持!很开心我的成长路上有你同行,请关注我的动态。让我们携手共创 cn 区美好的明天!如果不想收到留言,请回复“取消”。

Wow. I was in Shanghai a few months ago but went to a different water town: XiTang. There are some striking similarities between there and Jinxi by looking at your photos.

I really enjoyed travelling to that water town. This one looks really cool. What was the night scene like? A lot of lights and entertainment?

I'd love to go back and visit this place.


The nightlife was non-existent, only the normal street lights, lights from within the houses and restaurants and the beautiful lantern lights on the bridge. Truly still an un-exploited place to visit!

What a lovely portrait of Jinxi Ancient Water Town, Johann! I loved the effect of the woman washing clothes juxtaposed with the still woman (how did you do that?). And those fish and prawns look good enough to eat....


I actually bought and eat some of the dried prawns and it was delicious!


Hi @kiligirl, that technique actually has an "artistic" name, it is called a cinemagraph. I use photoshop's timeline functionality and then mask the parts I do not want to move on each frame with the first frame without any masking. (Maybe I will one come show you how to do it...)