A precious remnant of old China survives on the western fringes of Shanghai at Zhujiajiao – a traditional water town on the Dianpu River. Packed around a network of winding canals is an exceptionally well-preserved array of late-medieval shophouses, temples and ceremonial halls, dating from the era when the district oversaw a lucrative trade in cloth, rice and spices. Their whitewashed, dark-wood walls and terracotta roofs have been beautifully maintained and kept free of unsightly signboards. Get an early start to beat the tour buses, and be sure to take a boat ride on the river to see the splendid Fangsheng Bridge, Zhujiajiao’s five-span centrepiece, which dates from the late 16th century.

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