Tongli Canal Town

All that really needs to be known about Tongli is that it has a history of more than one thousand years and canals form the major arteries of the township. There are various buildings and halls scattered throughout the town (the entrance ticket gets you admission to all of them) but none of them are as beautiful as the canals and streets themselves. This is not the place to worry about dates and historical figures. Simply wander around, sip some tea at a canal-side teahouse, and enjoy the ambience.

One sight in Tongli that the entrance fee doesn’t cover is the China Sex Museum (¥20, Open: 8-17; Tel: +86 (0512) 6332 2973). This interesting museum charts sex culture in China throughout the ages. Particularly fascinating displays cover some barbaric sexual practices – the tradition of foot-binding and its consequences is covered in depth – and the prevalence of homosexuality among the Han Dynasty court. Plus there are some hilarious sculptures on the grounds.

You can easily spend half a day wandering through the serene streets of Tongli. There are maps and signs in English around the town so its hard to become lost. Note that if you arrive before 7am you can avoid paying the entrance fee (which also means you can’t enter any of the buildings the ticket covers). And it’s actually very nice at that time of morning, before the crowds arrive. There are no buses that early, but if you have people to split the taxi fare with then it will still work out cheaper.

Admission: ¥80. Open: 7:30-17:15.

Directions: Buses leave for Tongli regularly from the North Bus Station. Show attendants the Chinese above to get pointed in the right direction. Otherwise, you can take a taxi.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去水乡古镇同里,谢谢。 (Please take me to Tongli Canal Town. Thank you.)