Top 10 Ancient Towns of China

Some unique Chinese ancient towns are sparsely dotted all over the country, where we can see much that we can’t in big cities today. These ancient towns are generally the epitome of ancient lifestyles, festivals, custom, social relations as well as rooted kingship. Get tired of the hustle and bustle of city life? Then pack your bag and start your ancient-towns journey. The following are the top 10 famous ancient towns in China. You can experience the culture and original lifestyle of ethnic minorities in Lijiang Ancient Town, Jiaju Tibetan village; visit the profound culture of China in Pingyao ancient town, Langzhong ancient town, and Jingzhou ancient town. If you prefer the beautiful landscape and want to relax completely, then Yangshuo and Zhujiajiao water town is your best choice.

Dali Old City

With its vast geographic area, abundant resources and beautiful landscapes, Dali is a city of spring all the year round. Different from the bustling Xiaguan city (the new city of Dali), Dali old town is still peaceful and quiet. As there inhabit 26 minorities including Han, Bai, Yi, Hui etc, you have many chances to experience the unadulterated minority lifestyle, customs and food, such as attending the March Street Festival. When visiting Dali, you can never miss the cruise at Erhai Lake, hiking on the Mt. Cang and the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple.

Dali Old Town

Lijiang Ancient Town

Surrounded by Lion Mountain in the west and Elephant and Golden Row Mountains in the north, Lijiang is famous for plentiful sunlight, east wind and clear spring water. The town was honored as one of the four best preserved ancient towns in China and was assessment as the national five-star tourist attraction by National Tourism Administration in 6th, July 2011. The cobbled street, wooden buildings, gushing canals and unsophisticated lifestyle will amaze and delight you at your first sight. It is also the birthland of Naxi minority as well as the Naxi culture. As autumn is the most beautiful season in Lijiang, we suggest that you may arrange your Lijiang trip in September and October.

Lijiang Old Town

Pingyao ancient town

When stepping into Pingyao, you may enter a large historical museum. Pingyao is well renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall and completive old buildings. "The Ancient City of Pingyao is an outstanding example of a Han Chinese city of the Ming and Qing Dynasties that has retained all its features to an exceptional degree, and in doing so provides a remarkably complete picture of cultural, social, economic, and religious development during one of the most seminal periods of Chinese history" praised by World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. So it is really an ancient town worth visiting in China.

Pingyao Old Town

Jiaju Tibetan village

Jiaju Tibetan village is nestled in the Henduan Mountain of western Sichuan province. The name 'jiaju' means 'one hundred families' in Tibetan. The houses of Jiaju are built with yellow, black and white bands. White stone towers in the four corners of the roof representing the four cardinal directions. Outsiders will be surprised by the brightly colored wooden panels and doors with rich decorations all around. This building style is the traditional Jiarong style. The homes are well designed for the mountain topography and to accommodate Tibetan culture. You can choose to eat and sleep in a Tibetan home as you like when touring the village. The local villagers are so hospitable.

Langzhong ancient town

If you want to visit a place that integrating the natural beauty, historic sites, religious culture and folk legends, then choose Langzhong. Lying in the west bank of the Jialing River with mountains in four sides and rivers in three sides, the ancient Langzhou was the birthplace of many famous figures, namely Ma Zhong and Cheng Ji. Beyond that, many well-known poets in history once visited here and left their inscriptions, such as Du Fu, Lu You, etc. When visiting this old town, The Yong'an Temple, the Big Buddha Temple, alone with many other scenic spots are the must-sees. The town was honored as the biggest geomancy ancient town of Sichuan, one of the four ancient towns of China. It is also listed as” National historical and cultural city” by the State Council.

Ci Qi Kou old town

Ci Qi Kou, originally called Longyinzhen, is also known as Little Chongqing.The history of Ci Qi Kou can be traced back for more than 1700 years. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911) it was famous for porcelain making and transportation as a port. Chongqing itself has undergone many changes over the centuries, but not reflected in Ci Qi Kou. The State Council recognized this fact and made Ci Qi Kou a protected cultural site in 1998. Right here, you can not only try the local specialties like fried dough twists, salt and pepper peanuts, Maoxuewang (a dish of boiled blood curd and other stuff with spicy sauce), but the folk cultural activities, such as traditional tea house, Sichuan opera, sound the night watches, and play the fire dragon, etc.

Ciqikou Old Town

Jingzhou ancient town

Lying on the banks of the Yangtze River in Hubei province, Jingzhou has been an important historical city for 2,000 years. It enjoys the reputation of "the finest under heaven, being overwhelmed by 9 divisions". Jingzhou is famous for being the capital for the State of Chu during the Warring States Period, and it is also famous for its importance during the Three Kingdoms period. The body of the ancient city wall was mainly built with bricks and the bottom was built with stripped stones. The current brick wall was rebuilt during the Ming and Qing Dynasty. 

Yangshuo ancient town

Yangshuo lies in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and to the southeast of Guilin city. The special geography gives this small town the breath-taking beauty. There is an old saying, "Guilin's scenery is the finest under the Heaven, Yangshuo’s ranks the best in Guilin". The charming west street, Moon Hill, Yulong River rafting, biking in the countryside, mud bathing in the cave, the Impression Sanjie Liu show along with many other scenic spots will ensure you a fantastic trip. The delicious local specialties, such as Beer Fish, Niang dishes and other snacks, are also a big draw to the tourists.

Ancient Yulong Bridge Yangshuo

Zhenyuan ancient town

Located in the eastern part of Guizhou Province, Zhenyuan ancient town is a historical site filled with many rich and generous cultural relics. Although with only an area of 3.1 square kilometers, the town has more than 160 scenic spots including caves, palaces, pavilions, temples, rivers, unique architecture, exquisite engravings and marvelous natural landscape. Among all the spots, Wuyang River Scenic Area and elegant ancient complex in the Black Dragon Cave (Qinglong Cave) are the luring sights, which should not be missed by visitors. Zhenyuan has been an ancient town of the Miao ethnic group. They celebrate Dragon Boat Festival on May 25th every year. If interested, you can join them and enjoy the festival. With sub-tropical humid climate, the average temperature in Zhenyuan is 16.4 degree during the four seasons, so it is an ideal tourist destination all year round.

Zhenyuan Old Town

Zhujiajiao ancient town

An hour of bus trip from Shanghai Downtown, Zhujiajiao is a typical ancient water town in Qingpu with a long history over 1,000 years. Known as “The Venice of Shanghai”, Zhujiajiao features beautiful waterways, arched stone bridges, ancient streets paved with stone. The houses in the town can trace their history to Ming and Qing dynasties. There are 36 bridges in the town. They are in different shapes and styles and made in wood, stone or marble. When visiting these bridges, you have the chance to know each of its name and the interesting story.

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