Located around 18 kilometers (11.18 miles) from downtown Shanghai, Qibao ancient town is a fine example of the beautiful water towns along the Yangtze River.
This old town, with a history spanning over one thousand years, is 2 square kilometers in size and is crossed by two strips of water. Surrounding the water is a variety of well preserved ancient Chinese houses, shops, and restaurants. The small town is a good place to explore Shanghai’s grand past since it not only shows the beauty of traditional water towns but also the Shanghai enchantment.
Qibao means “Seven Treasures” in Chinese and the town got its name from a legend that referred to seven treasures in this area, which were an iron Buddha made in Ming Dynasty, a bronze bell also dating from the Ming Dynasty but said to have mysteriously appeared from nowhere, a Gold Script Lotus Sutra written by an imperial concubine of the 10th century, a one-thousand-year-old Chinese catalpa tree, a jade axe, a gold cockerel and a pair of jade chopsticks. Actually of these seven treasures, the existence of only first four can be verified while only the Scripture and the bell have survived to this day.
Qibao Old Street is the hub of Qibao ancient town whereas authentic antient life-style is well preserved. The street is divided into southern street and northern street. The southern street is filled with traditional restaurants serving various tasty snacks while the northern one has many shops selling handicraft souvenirs, painting and calligraphy works and antiques. In this part you will find the Qibao Pharmaceutical stores, a-thousand-year-old shop, some fine tea houses, and Shadow Play theater.
Shadow Play was once a feature of Shanghai culture. The Qibao Shadow Play performs are mainly based on widely-known historical events with the local dialect, thus giving the shows a truly local character.
One of the most important sites of this ancient water town is Qibao Temple. It was said the temple was built to house seven treasures. Rebuilt in 2002, the new Qibao Temple, with its ingenious designs for both buildings and gardens, presents visitors with an insight of the unique architectural styles of Han (BC206-220) and Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Qibao Town is also known for its unique culture of cricket. Cricket fighting was one of the most popular folk activities among the ancient Chinese. The crickets in Qibao Town were excellent fighters, so more and more people became involved with cricket raising, selling, and fighting. Visitors can watch the crickets and interesting crickets fighting shows at the Cricket Exhibition Hall.
Apart from the ancient-style buildings, stone bridges and small rivers, the town is a food haven. Dozens of traditional food from the Yangtze Delta region can be found in Qibao. And it is easy to find where the main food thoroughfare is – just follow the human traffic and be led by your nose.