Needless to say, Huangshan Mountain has long been the most popular tourist destination in Anhui Province. But the two ancient villages of Anhui Province, Xidi and Hongcun, are quietly gathering attention as scenic spots to visit during your time in the area. Both were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2000 and are perfect for anyone wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of China’s concrete jungles.
Although not far from each other, the two villages have their own specialties. Hongcun Village, is often described as a village straight out of a Chinese painting. Xidi, on the other hand, has been labeled, “A village in the Peach Blossom Land (an ethereal utopia in Chinese literature where the people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries).” It is most famous for its exquisite street plan and magnificent ancestral temples.
It is possible to see both villages in a day, however, we would advise starting in Xidi, and then staying over night in Hongcun. Entry to each village costs 104 RMB per person. To get to either Hongcun or Xidi you can take a bus from the long distance bus station in Tunxi or from Yixian bus station.
Hongcun Village: a Chinese painting you can walk into
Hongcun lies at the northwestern corner of Yi County, Huangshan. With its overall layout, architectural form, decoration, and construction techniques, it retains the original features of Anhui-village-style buildings. This quaint little village rose to fame initially because of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Hongcun’s story began during the Northern Song Dynasty when the local people constructed an irrigation canal for both agriculture and daily use. The village itself is designed in the shape of an ox with the nearby Leigang hill being the head. The four bridges that cross Jiyin stream represent the legs and the houses act as the beasts body. The canals and waterways that run through the villages are its intestines with various lakes and ponds acting as other organs.
Hongcun now preserves more than 140 ancient buildings of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Characterized by rhythmic space variation and tranquil alleys, the whole village reflects the pursuit of coexistence, unity and the harmony of man and nature. The village faithfully preserves elements that are typical of traditional southern Anhui ancient villages, including the surrounding environment, manmade waterways, architectural style, construction methods and materials, and decorative arts.
1) Where to stay?
Hongcun Ju Shan Tang (within the village)
Add: 6 Shangshuichuan, Hongcun
Tel: 055 9554 1218
Price: 100 RMB minimum
Add: 23 Lucun Qianjie Hongcun
Tel: 055 9554 5209
Price: 50 RMB minimum
2) What to eat?
A must try dish of Anhui cuisine is Hongshao chou guiyu (red-braised fermented mandarin fish, 红烧臭鳜鱼). The dish has a similar pungency to blue cheese and stinky tofu, but once you get past first impressions, you’ll be rewarded with a braised flavor that’s highly addictive. Another great Anhui choice is the Huizhou Odorous Bean Curd (徽州毛豆腐).
Xidi’s construction began during the Northern Song Dynasty and it became prosperous during the early period of the Qing Dynasty. Xidi Village boasts a rich history of over 900 years. About 40 kilometers from Huangshan, it was originally a compact community of only people with the family name Hu. It now has 300 households and over 1,000 fulltime residents.
Black marble was primary resource for the original construction of the village. The most prominent building, the five-storey memorial arch supported on four pillars, was constructed during the Ming Dynasty and symbolizes the prominent status of the Hu Family. Many of the residencies are now open to the public, but do make sure to visit Lüfu Tang and Dafu Di with their magnificent courtyards and exquisite gardens. A rare find in modern day China.
1) Where to stay?
Xidi Xing Guan
Address: within the scenic area
Tel: 055 9515 6999
Price: From 170 RMB
Xidi Gengle Tang
Address: within the scenic area
Tel: 055 9515 4488
Price: From 120 RMB
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Keywords: Hongcun village Ancient Villages in Anhui Province Xidi village
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