For a taste of ancient China, go to Hongcun in Anhui province, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There, you will find a cluster of ancient villages with exceptionally well-preserved Anhui-style architectures, dating back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
Hongcun Village is located in the Yi County, Anhui Province, near the southwest slope of Mount Huangshan. It is one of the representative ancient villages in the southern part of Anhui Province. Firstly built in 1131 A.D., the village now has a history of almost 1000 years. There are several hundred families living in this village, which is famous for its special water system.
Water flows down from the mountains behind the village, and meanders along streams through stone bridges and to each household, and finally into the Moon Pond. After being filtered in the pool, the water again flows on, out of the village to the low-lying South Lake. The bird’s eye view of the whole village resembles a large buffalo that is perking its head and lifting its legs. The streams here symbolized the intestines of the buffalo, with the half-moon pond as the stomach, and the lake as the belly. This is really an interesting design for a water system and it can be said as one of the wonders in the history of construction. So far, the water system, streets, folk houses and even interior arrangements of the village are completely preserved as the primitive conditions of the ancient village.
You can walk into the traditional rural settlements, for a breathtaking view of magnificent buildings, which have largely disappeared or transformed during the past century. The scene is so picturesque that it has earned Hongcun the reputation of the “village in traditional Chinese ink painting”. It is also the location of the Chinese film, “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” directed by Ang Lee.
Near Hongcun sits Zilu Temple, another favorite among visitors and pilgrims. The left mountain of the temple is shaped like a dragon while the right one looks like a white tiger.
- Recommended cycling route: Hongcun parking area —- Qishu Lake Vacation Village — Zilu Temple — Former residence of Sai Jinhua — Xiuli Movie and TV Village — Yixian County urban area (for lunch) — Wuli Village — Nanping Village — Guanli Village — Drum-beating Ridge — Return.
- Estimated duration: The 90 km-journey takes one day.
- Best seasons for cycling: Mid-March to mid-April is the best time to cycle in Hongcun, when the village is decorated with cole flowers, peach blossom and peony. September and October are also pleasant for clycling when you can enjoy the colors of autumn.
- Bicycle rental: Rent a bicycle at 50 yuan ($8) per day. The Qishu Fairyland Zhongkun International Hotel Mountain also rent out mountain bikes at 100 yuan per day.
- Reminder: Roads are generally good for cycling. Bring sunscreen, just in case. Cycling is not allowed within the Hongcun village.