I gather that it's a fairly new thing that they now charge about $15 U.S. to enter the water village but I thought it was worth it. It is so very scenic and picturesque. I was expecting it be crowded like in the youtube videos but we went around 10:30am in Sept on a Monday and it wasn't crowded at all. I was with a friend who speaks pretty good Mandarin and so she could barter for me at the various stalls that sell food, clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs. Certainly no one there spoke English! I liked the shopping and bought several items of clothing and souvenirs and the prices were really cheap with some good bartering. I came home with amazing photos because it's so pretty there. We didn't have time to ride in a gondola but it would have been fun. We had a little difficulty finding parking and where to enter to village. I should have brought the instructions that were in the reviews that I saw on the internet. Sight-seeing in China doesn't seem to be well-labled. It took us about 3 hours to walk around and get our fill of the village. It's truly like an Asian version of Venice and for me it was the highlight of my trip to China.