Are you looking to experience China’s antique beauty in an old town or village?
There are 10 ancient villages with extremely ancient local architecture, prominent village folk culture, stunning scenery, and a rich history narrating intriguing tales from earlier centuries.
These antique Chinese villages and locations are stunning and very different from the Chinese metropolis you will get accustomed to seeing. Make sure to include these places in your list of China travel destinations!
Now, find a town on this list of China’s top 10 old towns that interests you!
1. Wuzhen Water Town
Wuzhen is a water town with a history of 1300 years on the lower Yangtze River.
It is situated in northern Zhejiang and serves as the meeting point for Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou, which make up the golden triangle.
It was included in the updated List of China’s Candidates for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage at the end of 2006. Wuzhen became the country’s first PATA eco-tourism site in 2009.
Through town runs the historic Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Traditional structures still stand today even after being exposed to the weather for hundreds of years.
It successfully maintains its historical aspect and exudes the beauty of the water town. The little village is reminiscent of a Chinese ink-wash artwork because of the dwellings’ black brick and gray tile construction, which stands out clearly against the white walls.
2. Hongcun Ancient Village
Since Hongcun Village’s construction in 1131 AD, it has about 1,000 years of recorded history. Together with Xidi, Hongcun was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 because it is so serene and lovely.
More and more people became familiar with Hongcun when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed there. Many visitors opt to stop by this lovely town before or after their excursion to Mount Huangshan.
Visit this spectacular little hamlet and the surrounding villages and countryside to view historic Ming and Qing courtyards and gorgeous preserved countryside, buy souvenirs, go sightseeing, take a stroll, and eat.
3. Luzhi Ancient Town
Suzhou’s Luzhi Water Town is a historic settlement with a 2500-year history. It is one of the first groups of famous cultural towns with a national historical background in China.
The river, bridges, and historic homes in Luzhi Water Town are well-known attractions. You may spend a few leisurely hours exploring the alleys, visiting temples, museums, and buildings, and floating down the river.
In history, it gave birth to a beautiful culture, evidenced by the abundance and diversity of its tourism resources, mainly its historical and cultural artifacts. It’s a delight to meander through the town and take in its historic ferry crossing, boats, and bridges.
The town’s natural splendor is beyond description: old stone bridges, clear water, age-old maidenhair trees, and traditional homes.
4. Qibao Ancient Town
The Northern Song Dynasty (960–1126) saw the town’s construction, and the Ming and Qing dynasties saw it develop into a thriving commercial hub.
Qibao Historic Town in Shanghai’s Minhang District will satiate your interest in ancient water townships without the hassle of travel or the rush of tourists.
Qibao is more than simply a living relic of ancient Chinese conurbation since it is the only old town in greater Shanghai and has a history dating back more than a thousand years. The little town’s main street is a preserved example of ancient Shanghai.
The Song Dynasty left behind the ancient, weathered stone roadways and tiny alleyways, but the pavilions, temples, gardens, and dwellings have been carefully kept throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
The old village of Qibao is a haven for the soul, away from the congestion, pollution, and noise that today characterize most modern cities.
5. Zhouzhuang Ancient Town
Zhouzhuang is located 18 miles southeast of Suzhou. It is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, well-preserved historic homes, stunning river vistas, and vibrant local traditions and customs.
Although this town is small, it is complete with attractive ancient modest cottages, tiny streets and alleyways, canals, and stone bridges. The Double Bridge is the most well-known of the 14 stone bridges, with the Fu’an Bridge being the oldest.
When you visit Zhouzhuang Town, you can witness more than 800 homes along the river, more than 14 ancient, unique stone bridges erected in the Yuan, Ming, and Qing eras, numerous courtyards coming together on the meandering water, and more.
In addition to the natural beauty, Zhouzhuang’s distinct folk culture is a true cultural jewel in the Wu region and the heart of this charming town.
6. Fenghuang Ancient Town
According to folklore, two of these magnificent birds swooped over Fenghuang Ancient Town and were so enamored with it that they hesitated to depart, giving the place its name.
It serves as the essential crossing point between Hunan and Guizhou provinces due to its location in the southwest of Hunan Province.
After it has rained, you may wander through the bluestone-paved alleyways, take a boat tour on the Tuojiang River, see the 100-year-old stilted architecture, and climb the historic gate towers to get a sense of the city’s vicissitudes.
An excellent way to better look at the residences is to take a boat tour along the Tuo River to admire the sunrise or sunset. You may see locals washing their clothes and veggies in the river.
7. Xidi Ancient Village
Xidi is a renowned community with a 960-year history. It initially came into being during the Northern Song Dynasty.
Additionally, since 2000, it has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. With 600 rich houses at that time, Xidi attained its pinnacle of glory during the 18th and 19th centuries under the Qing Dynasty.
The community owns the three streams that go through the village from east to west. It is also abundant in natural resources, such as renowned and old trees like podocarpus and treasured creatures like the giant salamander.
In Xidi Ancient Village, you may find 124 well-maintained Ming and Qing (1368–1911) homes. When you enter a house, you’ll first notice a pair of profound couplets on the wall across from the hall gate.
These magnificent carvings are visible to visitors on the hallways, door frames, lattice walls, columns, and beams. They vividly depict the persons, grass, flowers, and birds on them. The sculptures from the Ming and Qing dynasties are elegant and poised.
8. Tuvas Village
Tuwa Kanas Village is 2-3 kilometers away from the breathtaking nature on the bank of the Kanas Lake river basin. This area is quite attractive at an elevation of 1390 meters, and you must cross that spot to get from Burqin County to Kanas Lake.
Residents of Kanas Tuwa village assert they are the Tuwa, also known as “Dewa,” of Mongolia. People documented Sui and Tang dynasties and their extensive history as early as ancient literature.
Numerous tourists visit this “Private Land of God” because of its tranquility, oil painting-like fall beauty, and ethereal winter landscape.
The area’s snow-capped mountains, woodland, desert, lakes, grassland, Yardang formations, and canyons will satisfy nature fans. The nomad lifestyle lends the region a sense of freedom and romance.
9. Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village
The largest Miao village in China is found in Xijiang Qianhu. It is known as a “thousand-household village,” and 99.5% of its residents are Miao.
Xijiang Village is a beautiful natural basin surrounded by lush paddy fields, with wooden cottages climbing up the hillside. There are plenty of streets and lanes swirling, rivers and bridges.
You may experience the Miao way of life at Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village and take in the landscape. A unique “long table feast” and a variety of Miao delicacies, which are sour and spicy, are available here.
10. Daxu Town
The largest of the “Four Greatest Market Towns in the entire Guangxi Province,” Daxu Ancient Town first appeared around 200 AD on the east bank of the Li River. Up to the Ming and Qing eras, it had a long history of being an important, lucrative meeting of businesspeople from southern and northern China.
Daxu has many intriguing places to visit despite being a charming, undiscovered town. Daxu is a wonderland for those who enjoy history and antiquities, with its stone lanes, old temples, and a medieval market.
Daxu’s old street is arguably the city’s most well-known attraction. The roadway, around 2.5 kilometers long, stands out for its bluestone pavement, which is over a thousand years old.
What is the oldest village in China?
Xinye Village is the oldest village in China.
What was common in ancient Chinese villages?
Villages in ancient China featured common wells, bathing areas, and areas for preparing produced grains like rice and millet. Up to three generations of a family might reside in a single house in ancient Chinese communities.
What is the biggest village in China?
The biggest village in China’s Guangzhou is Shipai Village.
Where is China’s most prosperous village?
Huaxi Village, situated to the east of Jiangyin’s city center in the Jiangsu Province, is the most prosperous village in China.
In these villages, traditions are still alive in the form of local architecture, way of life, folk music, and handicrafts. The finest venues to see ethnic minority traditional living are ancient villages in southwest China.
These villages feature ethnic communities with distinctive architectural designs and breathtaking natural settings, as well as serene, undeveloped communities with lovely vistas. I recommend going trekking, taking pictures, and meeting local folks to see these unique charms.