XiTang, an ancient water town in Zhejiang Province, is a charming canal town that is perfect to spent a day strolling down narrow streets and crossing thousand year old bridges. XiTang is located in Jiaxing City, 2 hours away from Shanghai and there are many tours operators that offer 1/2 and whole day tours to visit this amazing place. Ranging from $110-$150 per person these private tours will take you to a journey back in time to explore canals, bridges and ancient architecture of "Venice of the East".
However, for more adventurous and budget travelers there is a way to explore this amazing place all on your own. Xitang is located in Zhejiang Province and the best and most interesting way to get there is by high-speed train and bus.
The main train station is Shanghai Hongqiao Railroad Station located on Subway lines 2 (green) and 10 (purple). The subway ticket to Hongqiao Station is usually 4CNY from Shanghai downtown, and ticket can be purchased from many automated ticket dispensers.
As soon as you exit the subway, go to the ticket booth on the same level and purchase the high-speed train ticket for Jiashannan Station 嘉善南站 (G trains). The cost is 29.5CNY one way, and the trains are very frequent. Make sure you have your passport with you as they will not issue the ticket without and photo ID. Also, they will not accept major Credit Cards so have enough cash to buy the ticket. TIP: it's highly advisable to have the final destination written in Chinese characters. (Jiashan South Station - 嘉善南站) It helps!!!
Once you buy the train ticket, it will take you 15min to get to the actual platform from where the trains are departing. This is a giant train station with 30 train platforms with A and B entrances. A entrance is for cars 1-8 and B entrance is for cars 9-15. Display above will announce the current train boarding so no need to wait in line till your train is on top of the list. There are few Tourist Info booths located at the terminal, where you can some info regarding the trains.
The train ride is about 25 min and the first stop is Jiashannan (Jiashannan South Station) from where you will take the shuttle bus to XiTang Water Town. Once you exit the train terminal, walk right, al the way to the bus station from where you will take 30 min shuttle ride (with XiTnag pics on it). For 8CNY per person this shuttle will take you directly to the XiTang Entrance.
The Entrance to XiTang is 100CNY cash. Make sure you have cash as no VISA/MasterCard/AMEX cards are accepted at the ticket booth. It's very difficult to exchange foreign currency at local banks due to a local laws.