I know this is a much discussed topic. I am struggling to make a decision as to which is the best water town to visit. If it is recommended that we travel to one further away from Shanghai then we have the flexibility to do a day trip. We can also visit on a Friday which will hopefully be less crowded than the weekends.
We'd like to see an authentic, interesting water town. It would be nice if we were able to see some of the beautiful countryside on the way. We don't want to do any tour guided shopping stops.
Is it recommended to have a guide for an excursion like this or would a driver suffice? We don't feel like negotiating public transport this time. If there's a lot to learn then guide would be handy but if not then we may as well go it alone.
Your help is much appreciated in advance