To Xitang – Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot

Xitang is an ancient water town where Mission Impossible 3 (Tom Cruise) was shot. I really didn’t know about it until a friend recommended this water village. And indeed, it never disappointed me. I love it there – and since I went there during off-peak season, the crowd was just manageable.

How to Get to Xitang

I took the bus from Shanghai, but I won’t recommend it. It took us almost three hours! Instead, take a train from Suzhou or Shanghai to Jianshan Station (30 minutes only). Then, when you exit, go to the Tourism Office and ask where to get the bus to Xitang. The ride should take 30-40 minutes. From the last stop, the ancient water town is 10 minutes on foot.

Stay for a Night

Yes, it is possible to visit Xitang for a day, but I would recommend that you stay for a night. The village is more spectacular at night. It will surely surprise you! And I also recommend staying at Xi Tang Hotel.

Xitang - Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot
To Xitang – Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot

These 30 photos will make you want to go there!

Xitang - Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot
To Xitang – Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot (China)

Xi Tang or Xitang is right at the borders of two provinces in China – Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. It belongs to the latter.

Xi Tang Hotel Ancient Town Travel China
Xi Tang is an ancient Water Town in Zhejiang Province.

In Chinese, Xitang literally means West Pond.

Xitang Hotel Things to Do Travel Blog
Stroll in the morning to see life in the village.

The town’s water canals are coming from 9 rivers that crisscross the area.

Xitang Ancient Water Town Travel Blog
The covered lanes make your stroll easier on rainy days.

Though its proximity is near Shanghai and Suzhou, Xitang is a pretty quiet town.

Xi Tang Travel Blog Things to do
The ancient water village is just a train ride away from Shanghai.

In fact, there’s no train station that goes directly there. The nearest one is 30 minutes by car/taxi.

Xitang to Shanghai by Train Bus
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The water village has a history that dates back to the Tang Dynasty.

Morning views of Xi Tang Hotel
It’s free to go inside the village before the 8:00 AM.

But it only developed into a town during the Song Dynasty.

Ancient Water town Shanghai Travel
It is best to explore the village early in the morning and in the evening.
China water villages towns
China has many water towns, but not all of them are UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The morning scene is serene and life in a village is evident.

Boats in water towns
How romantic to be in one of these boats!

You’d see old people doing taichi in small corners of the street.

China hotel hostel travel
This is one of the quietest areas I’ve ever reached in the village.

But many of them are just strolling on covered corridors and narrow lanes.

Narrow lanes Xi tang
Love locks are hanging in this narrow lane since they couldn’t place them on stone bridges.

Also, the smell of traditional breakfast is wafting through the air.

red lanterns in china
When these red lanterns are illuminated at night, they’re absolutely magical!

Xitang has 140 stone and arched bridges. This one below appears in Mission Impossible 3.

Bridges in Xitang Travel Blog
Count how many bridges can you cross in the village.

I crossed around 34 of them – and yes, I counted. 😉

Xi Tang Brdiges Travel Blog
Just one of the 140 bridges in the water town.

In the movie, Mission Impossible III, Tom Cruise can be seen looking at these bridges and canals.

Red lanterns Chinese Travel
Chinese red lanterns are everywhere.

However, many of these bridges kinda look the same.

Travel Blog China Things to do
Some arched bridges can be a climb for those who are old. 😉

So it is a mission impossible to know which one was shown in the movie stills. 😉

Morning in the water town Xi tang
The town is photogenic in the morning.

Since Xitang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

China UNESCO World Heritage Site
China UNESCO World Heritage Site

It is, therefore, paid to enter the village.

China UNESCO World Heritage Site
China UNESCO World Heritage Site

Do not try to find alleys to avoid the RMB100 fee because you won’t be successful.

China UNESCO World Heritage Site Travel Blog

The alleys/gates are heavily guarded so forget about this mischievous plan.

China UNESCO World Heritage Site
The village is near Suzhou and Shanghai.

However, there’s one way to avoid it!

China UNESCO World Heritage Site

Enter the village before 8 in the morning because you won’t be asked to pay.

China UNESCO World Heritage Site

That’s what I did – until I was tired at 2 in the afternoon.

China UNESCO World Heritage Site

While strolling in the village, I’ve met a few guards – and I thought they would stop me and ask for a ticket. They never did – and I was glad. 😉

To Xitang - Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot

Remember, once you exit, there’s no way to go back in for free. They will be asking for the day’s ticket.

To Xitang - Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot

If you want to go back at night, you can only get in for free after the ticket booths close.

To Xitang - Where Mission Impossible 3 Was Shot
China has many water towns, but not all of them are UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are some interesting houses you can visit in the village. I didn’t go to any of these because I had no ticket. 😉 Remember, I was there before 8AM. 🙂

Travel Blog China
Sit on one of the benches under the covered corridors to observe life in this water town.

Hotel in Xitang

I found a cheap hostel just outside the ancient village – Xitang Hotel. It’s only a minute or two to the entrance. It is clean and though the staff can’t speak English, they have a very reliable translator app. There are also shops and restaurants in the surrounding area. You can book it via Booking, TripAdvisor or Expedia.

VPN in China

Remember that while most hotels in China have free access to wifi, I recommend that you install your own VPN to access your social media accounts. And yes, there’s no Google here, too. If you have Gmail and other Google products, you have to have a VPN to access them. 

Buying a Train Ticket Online in China

Buying train tickets at the train station anywhere in China can be confusing for those who don’t speak the language. What I always do is book via TRIP because it’s the most convenient, and they don’t really charge that much for a service fee. The money you’d spend going to the train station might be the same for the service fee. And you wasted no time joining the long queue there. However, on the day of your trip, make sure to be at the station at least an hour and a half. Go directly to the window booth where they issue the real tickets. You have to show the reservation number/s. Train attendants usually allow passengers to check-in between 20 minutes before the scheduled departure.

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