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#Qibao OLD TOWN Shanghai: A Good Alternative to Zhujiajiao Water Village

One can easily remember Shanghai for its modern and towering skyscraper indicating its economic rise to power as well as the International Settlement giving it a European city feel but we should not also forget that this is an old Chinese city before all the modern additions were introduced.

For those who would like to be transported back in time and get a sense of how it feels like living during the period of Chinese dynasties, you can try to visit the old towns of Zhujiajiao or Qibao.

Zhujiajiao is the more famous of the two but it is 1.5 hours away from Shanghai so the best alternative is Qibao if you are running on a tight schedule.

#Qibao OLD TOWN Shanghai

Accessible Via Metro Shanghai Subway

The reason why this is the best alternative is because Qibao Old Town is accessible by subway. Take line 9 and stop at Qibao station. From there, it's just a 3-minute walk. As quick and easy as that.

We left Nanjing East Road  Station (line 2) at around 8am and the train ride took approximately 30 +/- minutes to Qibao Station with transfer to Line 9 at Century Avenue Station. Since it was still a bit early when we got there, the crowd was still thin. Or at least because we didn't enter the main entrance but on the side instead.
Qibao Old Town

So what to expect here? Old, crumbling, traditional Chinese houses and buildings, waterways, alleyways, temples and lots and lots of street food. A classic ancient water village.

The fact that Qibao is the smaller-scale version of Zhujiajiao means it's walkable and very easy for a day tour.
We marveled at the sight of old building and traditional Chinese residences many of then already old and fragile. Walked past many shops mostly restaurants.
Of course the bridge passing through the river is an icon and should not be missed. There are two of these bridges dating back hundreds of years ago. The river below is not very clear but has definitely served as an economic lifeline of the community. There are no boats anymore and I assume there were many years ago as people who live here has shifted into shops selling anything from food to souvenir items to tourists. 

What is good about the place is that this is where the locals really reside so you can observe them go along with their normal day-to-day activities if you are to pay attention..

At the far end of the village is a small market where residents buy their vegetable, fruits and seafood. One can occasionally notice long queues in certain shops notably the one pictured below selling Shanghai duck. 


Deep into the village are small streets filled with restaurants and food stalls on both sides. If you are a foodie, Qibao is definitely for you.

For ordinarry foreigners like us though who can't even understand or speak Chinese, looking around for food is not easy. There are just so many to choose from and you can't have em all. So I was carrying this list (printed a bulk of food suggestions I gathered online) but I was frustrated because it wasn't so.much of a help. One tip, if you bring a food list with you, make sure each dish has with it local names written in Chinese characters or else attendants wouldn't even read it. I kept pointing at my list but we ended up not understanding each other.

So we picked the safe ones like this food-on-stick they call kebab.

It sells at 4RMB and it is good depending on where you buy it. I mean we tried this in a food stall in Nanjing and the one in Qibao is way better because of the quality of meat used.

Dan Bing 蛋饼 (egg pancake/crepe)
is probably the most famous street food/snack in all of China, at least it is the most visible. It is also my favorite because it doesn't have any extreme taste. It is a light snack with vegatable in a crunchy crepe. It is cheap too at 3.5 RMB or roughly 25 pesos.

So what they do is basically start with the crepe using a giant pan. Watching how they quickly spread the flour on the pan before it hardens is fun. It takes seconds and then comes the egg. Healthy. Some vegetable including basil leaves are added. The crepe is folded to half then sweet sauce is applied.

Other options include chili paste. It is finally folded again and cut into half. The quick and you are crunching into a delicious snack.
And of course you cannot get away without these pork bus which are also literally everywhere. Quite filling on the stomach. 

Then goes the most notorious of all---stinky tofu. As the name implies, it is tofu but with a pungent smell. Well I saw a lady cooking it in Qibao and there seem to be nothing wrong with the smell of it while it was being cooked.

So i decided to give it a go. 6RMB for a few cuts.

I tried to smell it again once served and it smelled perfectly normal.

When you make the bite, that's when you will know why they call it such. To start with, it's sooooo salty. That's the first I could remember. And the sauces, yes there were two options and I tried both, didn't help neutralize it all all but made the tofu even saltier. Gad! Who is eating this? Well, obviously many Shanghai people do.

And the stinky part is when you chew it and try to speak. Really stinks! If you are curious what kind of smell, well it smells of dung. Seriously. So don't be surprised if you encounter many people in the subway or public places smelling weird when they are on the phone talking loudly and you happen to nearby. Better bring a face mask if in China. No offense meant.^^

We flew in Shanghai via
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More on Shanghai Soon! ^^

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  1. Great post! Check out our post on Qi Bao Old Town 七宝老街 and let us know what you think!

    Happy Travels Everyone!



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