By Malaysian Explorer & Photographer, Zung 

The new China is known across the globe for being world’s fastest growing economy and the Dubai of the East. With the landscape and city outlines evolving at rapid speed. China encompasses a huge geographical area so visitors to this country will need to prepare themselves for a very long trip in order to enjoy every step of this sojourn.

Paradise, South of the River

Quite an easy destination to fall in love with, Jiangnan (江南), literally translates to the “south of the river”, referring to the south of the Yangtze River that has gained nationwide reputation for being a living paradise.

Hangzhou West LakeAutumn in Hangzhou

It is a charming water town with multitude of historical relics and cultural landscapes. Since ancient times, Jiangnan is not only known for wealthy living and poetic nature but also for its gentry and their elegant manners. Its finely crafted structures still depict ancient emitting vibes of its history and soul of its people.

It is also dubbed as the Chinese version of the crux of the famed k-pop single, Gangnam Style, performed by South Korean musician, PSY that refers to the luxurious lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District in Seoul. In comparison, Jiangnan of China shares the similarities with Gangnam of South Korea and centers on Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing and so on – filled with modern amenities yet still steeped in culture.

Hangzhou Hotels

My last trip to China was mainly spent in Shanghai (上海), Hangzhou (杭州) and Zhouzhuang (周庄), which all under China’s Jiangnan’s province.

Shanghai Pulse

My first stop was at Shanghai, one of China’s biggest and most vibrant cities – holding the most remarkable sights I have ever seen. Known as the financial pulse of the country, the city is filled with loads of iconic skyscrapers and financial institutions surrounding the business districts.

The Bund, ShanghaiPudong skyline along the Shanghai bund 

It is a great destination for you to apply geometry to your images for fantastic photography. Look for geometrical shapes such as horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, shadows and circles that may frame your image. Become poetic with your images and integrate interesting subjects or elements when you are out shooting.

Travel Photography Tip: “Look for geometrical shapes such as horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, shadows and circles that may frame your image.”

Heaven on Earth

My next stop lies in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang (浙江) province, known as ‘Heaven on Earth’ – a destination overflowing with enchanting natural beauty and an abundance of cultural heritages.

Travel Photography Tip: See the world like a painter -practice framing and composition by utilizing people and scenes 

Undoubtedly, when you are in Hangzhou, you have to visit the renowned features of this city – the West Lake, praised for its scenic lake, mountains and monuments, blending in perfectly with various famous historical sculptures and cultural sites namely Solitary Hill, Tomb of General Yue Fei and Six Harmonies Pagoda.


When you are out shooting here, it is great place to practice framing and composition by utilizing people and scenes – see the world like a painter!

Sharing the same vision as Henry Cartier-Bresson, who strongly opposes photo cropping, I believe that whenever you take a photo, any cropping should be done whilst framing it in your camera – always. It is best to achieve your street photography without cropping because if you crop your images too often, it will hinder your photographic vision.

Travel Photography Tip: “Any cropping should be done whilst framing it in your camera – always”


Ming and Qing

Zhouzhuang, one of the most famous water townships in China, was my last stop during the trip before my flight back to Malaysia.

Almost 60 percent of the building structures were erected during the Ming and Qing dynasty and I was impressed by how it was well-maintained over the centuries. It is well recognized for its profound cultural background, streets of well-preserved ancient residential houses and rich in local traditions and customs.

Travel Photography Tip: Use reflections rather than the actual objects to create artistic shots with amazing effects

As you explore the town, try focusing on the reflections of the points of focus rather than the actual object itself in your photos as it can lead to some amazing effects and beautiful images.


The wonderful thing about using reflective surface such as water, windows and mirrors when taking photos is that they can change an image into a work of art – an artistic approach to create memorable photos.

It doesn’t matter whether you are strolling, exploring or taking photographs, Jiangnan’s charming water town often leaves you that unique kind of feeling that you will only be able to experience in person. In all, this was an amazing trip as Jiangnan is such a beautiful province and indeed one of the living paradises on earth.



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About the Author

From Sekinchan to the world, Zung a.k.a The Ninja Photographer clicks his way to seven continents across the globe, seeing the world through his lens. Check out #ZungExpediaLog, @expediaasia and @zungninjaphotographer on Instagram for more.