GO: Xitang is a cen­turies-old water town si­t­u­ated where nine rivers con­verge in Ji­ashan County, Zhe­jiang Prov­ince. It is about 90km from Shang­hai, eas­ily reached by sched­uled buses (rec­om­mended) or trains; al­low about 90 min­utes for the jour­ney. Criss­crossed by bridges, Xitang’s real beauty lies in well-pre­served build­ings of the Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1912). The town gives you the sense that you are the first per­son to dis­cover it. A visit is an ad­ven­ture, which in my view re­mains one of life’s pri­or­i­ties and worth sav­ing for; trav­elchi­

STAY: Xitang Yuan Shui Pav­il­ion is the per­fect spot to stay; there are dou­ble and fam­ily rooms, some with bal­conies, and the small ho­tel is close to res­tau­rants and right on the river with great views, even more spec­tac­u­lar by night with red lanterns re­flect­ing in the water; rooms from about $130 a night; 50 Xi­axi Street;

EX­PLORE: Xitang is such a re­lax­ing and ro­man­tic place, my best tip is to put on your walking shoes and dis­cover the his­tory and ro­mance of its nar­row lanes; Tawan Street runs along the water and is a must to wan­der.

SHOP: There are lovely cob­ble­stoned nar­row streets to stroll along and you’ll find a good col­lec­tion of lo­cal crafts, rare arts and sou­venirs. Look out for ex­quis­ite Hangzhou silk and em­broi­dery, as well as world­fa­mous Longjing tea. Try Huanxiu Street for great shopping and places to dine.

EAT: My favourite res­tau­rants are those on the wa­ter­front. All menus are writ­ten in Chi­nese so it’s a matter of look­ing at what lo­cal din­ers are eat­ing to se­lect your dishes. In­ter­est­ing op­tions in­clude West Lake sour fish, beg­gar’s chicken and Hangzhou-style dongpo pork belly.

DRINK: In Xitang the lo­cals take their tea drink­ing se­ri­ously and there are many op­tions; the white chrysan­the­mum blend is my pick.

ES­CAPE: Take time out to visit Lingyin Monastery, north­west of Hangzhou in Zhe­jing Prov­ince, one of the largest and wealth­i­est Bud­dhist tem­ples in the Wulin Moun­tains. Lingyin is trans­lated as “tem­ple of the soul’s re­treat”, and you will feel re­stored by a visit;

Lisa Bar­ber is a wealth ad­viser and di­rec­tor at Hill­ross fi­nan­cial man­age­ment com­pany. Her book A Woman’s Guide to Wealth: What My Mother Needed to Know has just been pub­lished (; $28.29); lis­abar­

Gra­ham Er­bacher Gra­ham.Er­

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