Discover the Ancient Chinese Villages in the Huizhou Region

huizhou village05

When you think about China, what do you think of as its national symbol of beauty? Of course you can’t only be thinking of the Great Wall. Indeed, the Great Wall is a remarkable Chinese landmark. However, there are also a multitude of architectural styles and buildings that express a uniquely Chinese beauty. The ancient villages in the Yangtze Plain serve as good examples. And among these villages, the group of villages in the Huizhou area is the most distinctly fascinating.

hongcun specialty

Huizhou as a region has an interesting history. There were not only many successful merchants that came out of Huizhou, but also many famous politicians and scholars. Of course it was the rich merchants who made the biggest contribution to the improvement and success of Hui architecture. And in the background of this fascinating history, women in Hui culture had their own story. They were regarded as making the chastest wives.

woodcut

Elaborate brick-sculptures, woodcuts and stone carvings are the three essential artistic components of Hui architecture. Stone carvings of flowers, birds and beasts are usually on the doorframe; woodcuts decorate the windows and brick carvings can appear in any place, even someplace unexpected. The wall of a Hui style residence is called a horse-head wall. It is so-named because the top shape of the wall looks like a horse’s head. When visiting a Hui village, you will see that the white horse-head walls match the black roofs (consisting of tiles) very well. It looks very romantic, especially on a rainy day.

In ancient times, Chinese people used “the four treasures of the study” for writing and painting. These “four treasures” were the writing brush, the ink stick, paper and the ink stone. Huizhou was famous for manufacturing the best “four treasures”. Nowadays, people don’t use ink and a writing brush in their daily life anymore. But craftspeople in Huizhou insist on maintaining the ancient apparatus and they continue making these good quality products to this day.

Furthermore, Huizhou is the hometown of several popular kinds of tea, the most famous ones being Huangshan Maofeng, Keemun and Taiping Houhui.

Hui cuisine

With regards to the food in this region, it is difficult to tell whether you will like it or not. Hui cuisine is a very special kind of Chinese cuisine. But don’t worry, you can also find more familiar Chinese food in this region. If you like Hui cuisine, you may end up being crazy about it; but you may feel disappointed when you leave, as it is not easy to find real Hui cuisine outside of this region.

Huizhou is a beautiful and mysterious area with an interesting history. So, if you want to witness a special but also a somewhat typical kind of Chinese beauty, if you want to experience the feeling of being in a Chinese Kung-fu film (all villages look like the backdrop of a Kung-fu epic ), or if you are interested in Hui Art, please follow us and embark on a journey of discovery.

huizhou village 04

During this tour, we will

  • experience life in an ancient Chinese village, to feel the thrill of being on the set of a Kung-Fu movie;
  • discover the stunning artistry of Hui architecture, particularly the woodcutting, brick cutting and stone cutting styles of art;
  • listen to and study the unique history of the Huizhou region, with particular reference to the Huizhou merchants;
  • sample the delectable Hui cuisine;
  • enjoy the famous types of tea in the Mt. Huangshan area.

We offer:

  • Tours in 5 (+1 optional choice) villages and 2 old towns in the Huizhou region;
  • An English speaking guide with a vast knowledge of Hui Art and History;
  • Small group sizes (no more than 10 people);
  • Featured accommodation in ancient houses built in the traditional Chinese style;
  • Enough time to enjoy your tour alone;
  • A pdf file with important information about Huizhou.

 

02

the Location of Huizhou in China

huizhou location

An Introduction to the stops on our journey:

Chengkan

chengkan

The layout of the village is in the special Chinese “Bagua” style (the Eight Trigrams). The Yin part is represented by the fields whilst the Yang part is represented by the residential buildings. A river divides these two parts.

In ancient times Longxi was the name of this village. At the end of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Luo brothers moved there with their big family and changed the village’s name to Chengkan. The Luo brothers believed in Feng Shui theory (an old philosophical and somewhat superstitious system which follows the belief that you can create a better life for your family by managing the surrounding environment). They found that Longxi’s location was particularly auspicious and it promised their family potential prosperity, according to Feng Shui theory. During the establishment of the entire village they continued to follow this theory. So this village is considered one of the best, if not the best, examples of Feng Shui theory in practice.

There used to be ninety-nine lanes that once made the village seem like a maze. Of these ninety-nine lanes, there are still ninety lanes left today. Most of the buildings in the village were established in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), among them there are fourteen mansions which all exemplify the Hui style of architecture beautifully.

chengkan bagua

Tunxi Old Town

Tunxi old street

Tunxi is the central district of Huangshan City. Tunxi Old Street is the most famous tourist attraction in Tunxi. It is 832 meters long and features buildings that follow the Song (960-1279), Ming and Qing (1644-1911) style of architecture. The Cheng family was the biggest family that lived in Tunxi. Nowadays you can still see the three big mansions that once belonged to them.

There were also many famous people that came from Tunxi, such as the philosophers Cheng Hao and Zhuxi, and other famous scholars who focused on different academic disciplines.

Shexian

Shexian, the capital of the ancient Hui State that existed during the Tang dynasty, sits at the southern foot of Mt. Huangshan and on the upper portion of the Xin’an River.

huizhou

Shexian was founded during the Qin Dynasty. Many cultural relics still exist there. More than 100 buildings in Shexian date back to the Ming Dynasty, and thousands of them date back to the Qing Dynasty. Of these buildings, the Three Wonders of Ancient Huizhou Architecture are the most acclaimed by experts and they include: the ancient residential houses, the ancestral temples1 and the stone archways built in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The most famous of these archways are Xuguo’s Stone Archway and Tangyue’s Memorial Archway.

Since Hui culture originated from Shexian, it is also the birthplace of Xin’an Painting, Xin’an medicine, Hui-style Architecture, and the Hui-style of carving bamboo, wood, brick and stone. There are still many Hui ink stick and Shexian ink slab workshops. What’s more, you can also still buy Chengxintang Paper, which was considered the best quality paper during the Qing Dynasty.

Tangyue Memorial Archways

tangyue

This is the most popular attraction in Shexian and many people still come to Shexian just to see this group of archways. Tangyue Memorial Archways are located in Tangyue village, 9 kilometers from the Shexian old town in the west. There are seven archways there, which were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties by the Bao clan.

Among them, the three most famous ones are: the archway to honor the filial son, the archway to honor filial affection and the archway to honor the chaste wife Bao Wenling.

Xidi

西递

Xidi Village was built during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). In those times, people lived together based on clanship and consanguinity. Xidi was occupied by the Hu clan. There are more than 300 buildings in Xidi, which were mainly built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, among which 124 residential houses and three ancestral temples have been preserved in their original state. The layout of Xidi is well designed. It looks like a sailing boat. Most of the houses are composed of three rooms and a square yard.

As a famous village in Huizhou, Xidi thus housed many rich Hui merchants. These merchants wished to build their luxury houses in order to show off their wealth. But the strict hierarchy of society had restrictions which directly affected construction. So the merchants could only choose the best materials and utilize the most sophisticated workmanship for their place of residence. The memorial archway—built in 1578 by Hu Wenguang, who was a high official during the Ming Dynasty—is a good example of the Hui-style of stone carving. The best example of Hui-style brick sculpture is in the house of another Ming official, in a place called the West Garden.

It was listed as culture heritage by UNESCO in 2000.

Hongcun

hongcun

The village was built during the Northern Song Dynasty for the Wang clan. There are more than 140 well-preserved ancient houses in Hongchun that were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Among them there is a place called Chengzhi Hall, which was built by a salt merchant during the Qing Dynasty and is now regarded as the “countryside palace museum”.

The most fascinating thing about this village is its “buffalo shape” design. An artificial water system was designed following the shape of a buffalo in order to supply water to every building for people’s routine life and also for their fields.

 It was listed as culture heritage by UNESCO in 2000.

Nanping

nanping

Due to the fact that there are so many big and beautiful ancient villages in the Huangshan region and because Chinese people have limited holiday time, Nanping is not a very popular tourist destination in the Huangshan region. But those tourists who skip going there don’t know what they’re missing.

This typical Hui village consists of more than 300 buildings and 72 lanes. In ancient times, the 8 Ancestral Temples in Nanping represented the power and influence of eight local families. The village has served as a backdrop for many famous movies, such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Judou”, which both featured the Chinese actress Gongli.

If you want to enjoy a truly beautiful and peaceful Hui village rather than simply a tourist attraction, Nanping is your best choice.

Ancestral temples: This was a kind of temple used by a family or a clan to worship their ancestors.

 

Accommodation: 4 nights in the featured old style hotels, which are all equipped with modern amenities, and 2 nights in 3-star hotels. You will have a single room in 2 of the featured old style hotels, and then you will be moved to shared rooms in the other 4 hotels.

Food: Two dinners consisting of authentic Hui cuisine. We will help make dinner arrangements for you on other days of the tour, but these meals are not included in the tour price.

Transportation: public transportation (train and coach) and taxis when necessary.

Hotel in Hui style

Duration: 7 Days and 6 Nights

Date:1st of Dec to the 7th of Dec, 2017

Cost: £780 per person (including: 6 nights of accommodation; entrance fees to all of the villages; 1 dinner; tea every day; the cost of all transportation during the designated tour times; English guide services; a pdf file with important information about Huizhou; information for your tour of Mt. Huangshan if needed; further help for your following travel in China).

£890 per person for 6 nights of single room accommodation.

Please Note: the price is based on at least 4 participants; the maximum number of participants is 10.

Itinerary:

Day 1 Meeting in Tunxi (Huangshan City)

If you need us to help you to buy the domestic train or air tickets, please let us know in advance and give us all of the details for your journey. People who plan on coming from Beijing have the opportunity to take the train with our tour guide if they would like to.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient-style house, shared room (2 people per room).

Dinner:  Not included. We will explore the local food market together and sample some tasty dishes.

Day 2 Chengkan

We will visit Chengkan, which is the first Hui village on our tour. It is a very typical example of a Hui village and it will give you a sense of what to expect from a Huizhou village.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient-style house in Chengkan village, shared room (2 people per room).

Welcome dinner: Hui cuisine.

Day 3 Huizhou Old Town (Shexian)

In ancient times Shexian was the central town in Huizhou. We will have a tour of the old town, then we will go to visit the Tangyue Memorial Archways and be treated to some historical stories about them, which reveal details about the strict moral rules surrounding filial piety and chastity in ancient times. We will then walk along the Xin’an River and visit the ink craft shops.

Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Shexian, shared room (2 people per room).

Dinner:  Not included. We can either have local food together or you can choose to explore the local restaurants on your own.

Day 4 Xidi

In the morning we will catch the train back to Tunxi and from there go to Yixian (where Xidi, Nanping and Hongcun are located) by coach.

We will then go to visit Xidi, the most famous village in the Huizhou region. However, we have chosen a better place than Xidi for our accommodation – Nanping, where it is much quieter. Nanping is in its original condition so it will undoubtedly give us the sensation of living on the set of an epic movie.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient-style house, in Nanping village, single rooms for everyone.

Dinner:  Not included. We can either have local food together or you can choose to explore the local restaurants on your own.

Day 5 Nanping and Hongcun

Although by this time we will have enjoyed the evening and the night in Nanping village, we will also spend some time the next morning taking in its beauty.

After that, in the afternoon we will head for Hongcun. It is a very short journey from Nanping to Hongcun so we can spend almost the entire afternoon visiting its various sites of interest.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient style house in Hongcun village, single rooms for everyone.

Dinner:  Not included. We can either have local food together or you can choose to explore the local restaurants on your own.

Day 6 Hongcun or Lucun

lucun

This is an option for everyone: you can either stay in Hongcun and enjoy the peaceful, picturesque countryside or go hiking in the neighboring village of Lucun, which is an authentic Hui village that doesn’t attract too many tourists.

Please Note: the entrance fee for Lucun is not included in the tour price and is around 50 RMB; the most famous attraction in Lucun is a wholly woodcut building and the entrance fee is 30 RMB.

Tips for staying in Hongcun: take time to venture out of the village in order to have a look at the tea fields on the mountains.

On the afternoon of the sixth day we will return to Tunxi.

Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Tunxi, shared room (2 people per room).

Dinner: Chinese cuisine in both Hui style and other styles.

Day 7 Tunxi

Participants are either free to start their return journey or continue their travels in China

We recommend Mukeng Bamboo Forest and the Mount Huangshan.

Note: if you want to visit Mukeng Bamboo Forest, or Mount Huang and need our help, please do not hesitate to tell us in advance.

 

Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of this 7 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

hizhou village03We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us!

For more information, please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

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