Holland Village – Odd Dutch Town in Shanghai

Holland Village – Odd Dutch Town in Shanghai

Nestled between factories and Shanghai’s Pilot Free-Trade Zone is Holland Village. The place is one of several theme towns in Shanghai wherein developers replicated buildings and styling similar to the real places[1]. Another theme town is Thames Town. which looks remarkably similar to something you’d find in England.

Canal and smoke stacks
Along the canal is a cobblestone path and grand scenery just like in Holland.

In the early 2000s, Shanghai government created a plan to develop nine or so suburban districts and assigned each project a theme. The idea was to expand Shanghai’s urban sprawl and reduce inner city overcrowding which is the most populated in the world. In each of these districts there are neighborhoods that resemble the themes given. Now there are full on towns/neighborhoods that look like German, British, Canadian, Spanish, Italian, and of course Dutch. Architects from the Netherlands were called in to develop the concept town now known as Holland Village.

Holland Village sign
Sign says, “Gaoqiao New Town”

Holland Village of course is supposed to resemble what you might see in the Netherlands. Along the main street the building facades reflect the architectural style of a quaint Holland village. There are canals, cobblestone paths, and of course a windmill.

Holland Village windmill
What would Holland Village be without a windmill?

At the time of this writing, Holland Village is still mostly abandoned. There are few, if any, places to eat or get a drink. Actually, there’s almost no one around except for newlyweds using the town as a backdrop for photo-shoots.

Brides couples on bridge

I spent about an hour walking around admiring the effort put into the place and also questioning why it exists and remains abandoned. Perhaps someday people will want to live there as it has potential to be nice but for now not much is going on. Still, if you have the time and like to explore odd places then it’s worth doing. Nearby is Gaoqiao West Street which is a decent Chinese cultural area that is fairly small and overlooked by most people. So, do both and call it a day.

Getting to Holland Village

Holland Village Shanghai (荷兰村上海)

By metro, take Line 6 to Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone North Station. Then go out Exit #2 and follow the canal till you spot the large signs for Holland Village.

Bus number 81 will also get you there if you are so inclined.

Directions using Google Maps

Click photos to see larger and read captions.