If you need a change of scenery and have done all there is to do in the immediate vicinity of Guangzhou, consider visiting the impressive Kaiping Diaolou and surrounding villages. Located near Jiangmen City in Guangdong Province, 110km from Guangzhou, the Kaiping Diaolou – a system of multi-storied defensive village houses – are so impressive in fact, that they’ve been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007.
The buildings come in three forms: communal towers for the purpose of refuge, residential towers used as fortified residences and watch towers. The Diaolou buildings incorporate Chinese and Western architectural styles and are built of stone, brick, pise (compressed earth) or concrete. During its heyday, 3,000 buildings existed; however nowadays 1,833 various structures remain and are mainly concentrated in Tangkou, Baihe, Chikan, Xiangang and Changsha townships. Below, we list a couple of the main attractions in the area.
1) Li Garden
Li Garden (李园) is situated in Beiyixianggenhua Village (北义乡赓华村) in Tangkou township and is a 4A rating tourist attraction. It was built by the American overseas Chinese Xie Weili in 1936 and served as a private residence. The garden is based on the Grand View Garden described in the classical Chinese story “A Dream of Red Mansions”, featuring pavilion bridges and winding corridors as well as printed murals and ornate pillars.
2) Zili Village
A cluster of Diaolou buildings can be found in Zili (自力村), a village that lies in Tangkou township near Kaiping. 15 different styles of buildings can be found here, each with a Western-influenced style of architecture that somehow resemble medieval castles. Some are 5-6 stories tall, though most are just two stories. The Diaolou buildings here perfectly blend with the surrounding natural environment and one can admire the views of the green farmland surrounding these quirky buildings.
3) Majianglong Villages
Majianglong (马降龙村落) was apparently praised as the “world’s most beautiful cluster of villages” by the UN. It lies in Baihe township 20km from Kaiping city. There are five separate villages which unite to form the village cluster: Yong’an, Nan’an, Hedong, Qinglin, and Longjiang. The 13 Diaolou buildings here are very well preserved and range from 2-7 stories tall. They fuse Chinese, British and German and European styles and are built using reinforced concrete and brick.
4) Ancient Village of Chikan
Occupying 6000 square meters, Chikan is a ten minute ride from Li Garden and Zili Village. The town was established in the Qing Dynasty, but the streets and buildings that remain today were built during the end of the 19th century by returning overseas Chinese. Over 600 arcade buildings line the streets here which have attracted film-makers from around the world, due to the village’s resemblance to ancient Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
Kaiping – Zili Village – Li Garden – Majialong Villages – Baihe Township Tulou Shilu – Baihe Township Yanping Building – Xiangang – Chikan Township Sanmenli Yinglong Building – Chikan Canada Village – Chikan Ancient Town
There are plenty of lodging options in Kaiping city, from upscale hotels to budget guest houses. Below are some suggestions.
New World HotelView In Map
Add: 62 Changsha Shuguang Xilu, Kaiping City
Tel: 0750 237 8888
Kaiping Building HotelView In Map
Add: 19 Wenxin Lu, Kaiping City
Tel: 0750 2233 333
Park Lane HotelView In Map
Add: 98 Xingang Lu, Kaiping City
Tel: 0750 2293 666
Add: Kaiping City, Jiangmen City, Guangdong Province
Tel: 0750 2679 788
Price: six-site ticket (includes Li Garden, Zili, Majianglong, Jinjiangli, Chikan and Nanlou), 180 RMB; Li Garden, 100 RMB; Zili Diaolou, 80 RMB; Majianglong Diaolou Villages, 50 RMB; Chikan, 30 RMB
Opening hours: times vary among the sites but the general hours are 08:30-18:00
Website: http://www.kptour.com:8080/ (English)
Getting there: take a bus from the Guangdong Provincial Bus Station next to the Guangzhou Railway Station. Buses leave every 30 minutes between 06:30-19:30 and the trip takes approximately 1.5 hours. Once you get to Kaiping, it’s very convenient to get to the various villages as there are numerous shuttle buses on hand to take you there.
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