Top 10 Old Towns & Villages in China

Want to see the old town or village in China to seek the ancient charm of this country? There are a series of that kind of places with very old architectures of local styles, featured folk culture of the local villagers, unforgettable beautiful sceneries for your aftertastes, and long history telling the interesting stories in the past decades and centuries. As you enter the ancient towns, your mind would be comforted well by the primitive and simple atmosphere. For your coming discovery in our country, we here list the top 10 old towns & villages in China with outstanding reviews and feedbacks from our guests and other visitors on the Internet. Check the details of them and decide which one to visit in 2024.

Top 10 Old Towns / Villages to Visit in China

1. Wuzhen Water Town- Zhejiang

History: over 1300 years

Visiting time: 1-2 days

Best time: Spring & Autumn

Tickets: ¥100 for East Scenic Zone, ¥120 for West Scenic Zone, ¥150 for combined ticket

Address: Tongxiang, Jiaxing, Zhejiang

Transportation: take bullet train to Tongxiang Station, transfer to bus K282 to Wuzhen Bus Station and take local bus K350 to Wuzhen West Scenic Area

Wuzhen (乌镇), one of the top 10 charming famous towns in China, has long history of over 1300 years. Also, as one of the top 6 ancient towns in Jiangnan area, Wuzhen Water Town is your ideal place to savor the authentic features of a Jiangnan water town. In this best ancient place, streets are built along the water path with old bridges linking together into a complicated net, and the ancient houses constructed by two banks of the small river provide best cradle of the pure life of the locals. Though this ancient town has been so aged, it still keeps the original appearance and a lot of praisable carving techniques on the doors, windows, pillars, etc. for visitors’ admiration. Besides, no matter you leisurely stroll on the old paths, sit on a small boat to see the onshore scene, visit the top sites to get close to their culture and history or take some great pictures of this amazing beauty, you could surely enjoy your wonderful go! Check more about Wuzhen.

>> 3 Days Best Hangzhou Tour with Wuzhen Water Town

Wuzhen Wuzhen Wuzhen

2. Hongcun Ancient Village- Huangshan

History: over 850 years

Visiting time: half a day

Best time: Spring / Autumn

Tickets: ¥104

Address: Northwest corner, Yi County, Huangshan, Anhui

Transportation: Sightseeing buses from Huangshan Bus Station and Huangshan Mount Front Gate are available to Hongcun Ancient Village

Representing old villages of Anhui style, Hongcun (宏村) is really a great place to enjoy the traditional Chinese image. It has been listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site and reputed as the ancient village in Chinese paintings for its amazing landscape. This old village was established during 1131-1162 AD, but for near 900 years, it preserves its buildings and layout really well. Besides, the world famous movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed in this place, so this attraction has been increasingly popular. If you visit this village, do not miss its two major essences. One is the waterscape formed by the water conservation system, which you could enjoy at the large South Lake and the half-moon shaped Yue Zhao; another is the three carvings of Anhui category on the local buildings, namely the brick carvings, stone carvings, and wood carvings, and all that are exquisite like paper cuttings. As Hongcun is so tranquil and elegant that you are recommended stay some days to appreciate the different sceneries from the morning mists to the night moon light. Check more about Hongcun.

>> 4 Days Best Huangshan Tour with Hongcun & Xidi Ancient Villages

Hongcun Village Hongcun Village Hongcun Village

3. Fenghuang Ancient Town - Hunan

History: over 300 years

Visiting time: 1-3 days

Best time: all year round

Tickets: ¥148

Address: Southwest of Tujia-miao Autonomous Prefecture of Xiangxi, Hunan

Transportation: many daily coaches from Changsha could take you to Fenghuang Ancient Town for about 5.5 hours and from Zhangjiajie for 1-2 hours.

Fenghuang Ancient Town (凤凰古城) or called Phoenix Ancient Town is a particular old town of ethnic culture of Miao and Tujia minority groups in the western Hunan province. With the special wooden tilted-houses standing on the two banks of Tuojiang River floating through, Fenghuang is a charming ethnic lady for your discovery. For the fascination of Fenghuang, an Irish writer praised Fenghuang as the “most beautiful town in China” after his visit. It is said time slows down in Fenghuang, so when you visit there, you could shower in the sunshine along the hundreds-year old streets, appreciate the look of this town on the old pavilion of the bridge, walk across the stones on the river, take a boat to see the vivid scenes onshore, immerse into the romantic night splendors of the old but vigorous old town in China. Furthermore, a series of interesting ancient sites still tell about the stories and legend of famous writer Shen Congwen and others, and the relation and development of the ethnic groups for your enjoyment. Check more about Fenghuang Ancient Town.

>> 5 Days Classic Culture Tour in Zhangjiajie & Fenghuang

Fenghuang Hunan Fenghuang Hunan Fenghuang Hunan

4. Zhouzhuang Water Town- Suzhou

History: about 1000 years

Visiting time: 1-2 days

Best time: all year round

Tickets: ¥100

Address: Southwest of Kunshan City, Suzhou, Jiangsu

Transportation: frequent daily coaches are available from Suzhou for 1 hour, from Shanghai for about 1.5 hours, and from Hangzhou for about 2 hours

The well-known Zhouzhuang (周庄) is praised as the “No.1 Water Town in China”. keeping over 60% residential buildings of Ming and Qing styles and 14 distinctly featured ancient bridges and the idyllic structure of water winding across the houses, Zhouzhuang Water Town shows perfectly of the scenes of small bridges, floating water and households in people’s dreams. As a historic and typical water town near Suzhou, the black tiles and white walls, red lanterns hung on eaves, drifting boats along the narrow water way, calling of local products from the wooden shops, and the real life of local residents, you would have a true experience of a water town of tender Jiangnan style. Also, as the hometown of the famous businessman Shen Wansan and the world influential painter Shen Yifei, you could visit their old places to know their stories and savor their ancient buildings. During every minute in Zhouzhuang, all the worries and troubles would disappear, what left there is the interest of getting lost in the maze and enjoy the pure life style in old China. Check more about Zhouzhuang.

>> 2 Days Best Suzhou & Zhouzhuang Water Village Tour

Zhouzhuang Zhouzhuang Zhouzhuang

5. Xitang Water Town - Zhejiang

History: over 1000 years

Visiting time: half to one day

Best time: Spring and Autumn, especially April to May, September to November

Tickets: ¥100

Address: No. 258, Nanyuan Road, Jiashan, Jiaxing, Zhejiang

Transportation: frequent coaches are available from Hangzhou for about 2 hours and from Shanghai for about 1.5 hours to Xitang

Xitang (西塘) is described as living ancient town. This old water town of more than 10 centuries old maintains its simple and ancient characteristics with a featured leisurable and cozy life style. The countless specially shaped ancient bridges and lanes is one of the unique features of Xitang Ancient Town. And after the shooting of the world famous Hollywood movie Mission Impossible 3, this mysterious old place has been listed in the traveling lists of more visitors in and to China. Therefore, even you take a simple walk along the old streets, lanes or take a ramble boat to enjoy the antique houses and their reflections on the glittering water, happiness and interesting time you could easy enjoy. During day time, you could savor the real life style of locals by watching the old men playing chess, women doing daily routines at the river, however, at night hours, you could sip a glass of wine to feel the modern vigor of this old town. Check more about Xitang Ancient Water Town.

>> 2 Days Poetic Hangzhou with Xitang Water Town Tour

Xitang Ancient Water Town Xitang Ancient Water Town Xitang Ancient Water Town

6. Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village – Kaili, Guizhou

History: over 1000 years

Visiting time: 1 day

Best time: all year round

Tickets: ¥100

Address: 36 km from Leishan County, the Southeast of Guizhou

Transportation: take a bullet G train from Guiyang to Kaili for about 40 minutes and transfer to a direct bus to Xijiang Miao Village from Kaili Xiamahe Kaiyuansi Bus Station for about 1 hour

Being the largest residential village of Miao ethnic minority in China so far, Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village (西江千户苗寨) is also a terrific place completely keeping the original ecosystem of Miao group. Standing in this wide land consisting of over 10 natural villages, you would be impressed by the so amazing scene before you. That would be your great chance for admiration and photography. Furthermore, since in all the over 1400 households in this village with more than thousands of residents, 99.5% of which are real Miao people, you would surely savor the authentic and wonderful life essences and culture of the Miao group. Besides, Qijiang Qianhu Miao Village has been complimented as an open-air museum, so it is one of the best places to have a close-up to the developmental history, traditional dancing and singing, beautiful costumes, handicraft skills, famous silver ornaments, and great featured folk tradition of Miao minority. Just go and feel the hospitality of local Miao people! Check more about Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village.

>> 4 Days Kaili Miao Minority Village Tour

Xijiang Miao Village Xijiang Miao Village Xijiang Miao Village

7. Xidi Ancient Village - Huangshan

History: about 1000 years

Visiting time: half a day

Best time: Spring & Autumn

Tickets: ¥104

Address: Yi County, Huangshan, Anhui

Transportation: sightseeing buses are available to Xidi Ancient Village from Huangshan Bus Station for about 1.5 hours, from Huangshan Mount Front Gate for about 1 hour and from Hongcun for about 20 minutes

Xidi Ancient Village (西递古村) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed together with Hongcun Village. Reputed as the museum of ancient buildings of Qing and Ming dynasties, Xidi is among the top recommendations to savor the elegant constructions of Anhui features, such as Hu Guangwen’s Memorial Archway, Zouma Building, Jing’ai Hall, and so forth. If you go to this popular village, you could stroll along the aged streets and alleys paved with the flagstones to track the past stories, appreciate the fantastic glamor of the carvings on the old buildings to feel the talent of ancient people on the residential environment and construction design, an also could visit some of the prominent buildings to know about the rise and fall of this village and the old Anhui province. Moreover, during March and April, Xidi Ancient Village is particular appealing with wide spread of blooming golden rape flowers, therefore, you could get some fabulous shots with the groups of sketching art students there. Check more about Xidi Ancient Village.

>> 4 Days Huangshan Tour to Huizhou Culture Exploration

Xidi Xidi Xidi

8. Dali Old Town - Yunnan

History: over 600 years

Visiting time: 3 hours

Best time: March to Noermber

Tickets: free

Address: Cangping Street, Fuxing Road, Dali, Yunnan

Transportation: take an airport shuttle bus from Dali Airport for about 40 minutes; local bus no. 8 could take you there for about 40 minutes

Once being the capital city of the ancient Nanzhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom, Dali (大理) has been the center of Yunnan during ancient Tang and Song dynasties for over 500 years. So ancient city gates, city walls, pagodas, towers, academy, old streets, memorial halls, and many other historic sites are you best place to know about the prosperous history and culture of this special old town in Yunnan. As located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain and near Erhai Lake, Dali is really a favored town for spend a leisure vacation with warm sunshine, colorful floras, and easy life pace. Also, it has praised with a good of word, “wind, flower, snow and moon – romantic themes” by the wind of Xiaguan, flowers of Shangguan, snow of Cangshan, and moon of Erhai, so you could enjoy a literary and poetic life there. Apart from the rich culture of Bai minority group that you could enjoy by walking along the streets to find some interesting items of this minority, there also you could savor many types of local food, go up high on the towers to have a panorama of this antique and lively town. Check more about Dali Old Town.

>> 4 Days Dali Highlights Leisure Tour

Dali Dali Dali

9. Wuyuan Village - Jiangxi

History: about 1300 years

Visiting time: 1-2 Days

Best time: Spring & Autumn

Tickets: ¥210

Address: Northern Shangrao, Jiangxi

Transportation: high speed trains are available from Shanghai for about 4 hours, Hangzhou for 2.5-3 hours, Huangshan for about 21 minutes etc. Also, you could take a direct bus from Jingdezhen West Station for about 1 hour, etc.

Wuyuan (婺源) is one the places preserving the most and best old buildings in China, with 113 old memorial halls, 28 old mansions, 36 old private houses, and 187 old bridges. Also, it is complimented as the “most beautiful village in China”, is an ideal place to treat your eyes and mind in all the four distinct seasons, particularly during spring and autumn. From middle March to April, the shimmering sea of rape flowers attracts a large number of photographers to record the fabulous landscapes, and also you could also taste the fresh spring green tea during such nice months. Besides, in the middle and later part of every November, fiery red and golden leaves contrasting the monochrome old rural houses with the surrounding morning mists changes Wuyuan into an idyllic fairyland. More importantly, Wuyuan gives you more surprise in the fall when the large-scaled crops drying scenes would put on a show by the local villagers drying their bumper crops under the sun, which is a nice opportunity to enjoy the traditional culture and life of Wuyuan village.

>> 4 Days Yellow Mountain Wuyuan Scenery Photography Tour

Wuyuan Wuyuan Wuyuan

10. Ciqikou Old Town - Chongqing

History: over 1000 years

Visiting time: 3 hours

Best time: March to May, September to November

Tickets: Free

Address: 14 km West from Chongqing, Shapingba District, Chongqing

Transportation: take Rail Transit Line 1 to Ciqikou Station from Chongqing downtown for about 1 hour

Named the “Little Chongqing”, Ciqikou (磁器口) best gathers the typical features of old Chongqing in this location facing the wide river, with a lot of local features. Visiting this nationally famous old town, you could watch the old tile-roofed houses of traditional styles of Qing and Ming dynasties, find the characteristics of classic residences of mountain region of eastern Sichuan styles, taste the spicy and other delicious snacks, such as the Chen’s fried dough twist, sour and spicy rice noodles, etc. along the ancient streets, select some featured small products in the old shops and sip a cup of tea in the tea houses along the stone steps, and so on. By enjoying the tender wind comes from the river, you could feel the relaxing life in Chongqing. However, with the hawking and initiative services of the sellers and prosperous business in Ciqikou Old Town, you could also figure out the enthusiasm of local Chongqing people to life and their hardworking quality to make this city so charming. Check more about Ciqikou Old Town.

>> 1 Day Chongqing Short Stay Tour

Ciqikou Ciqikou Ciqikou

Besides, there are also many great ancient water towns such as Tongli, Zhujiajiao, Nanxun, and many old towns and villages worth visiting in China, like Taoping Qiang Village, Luodai Old Town, Shangli Old Town, Anren Old Town, Jiezi Old Town, Upper Langde Miao Village, and so on for your great time to savoring the old structures, wonderful local folk life, interesting history and culture.

Notes: for more detailed information of how to get to the old towns, you could ask our travel expertise for help.

>> Check more about top water towns in China

>> Check more about top 10 China old streets

>> Check more about top 10 old towns in Sichuan

Travel with China Discovery

If you are planning to visit the top recommended China old towns and villages to admire the beautiful architectures and more highlights, you could travel with China Discovery. Our local guide would give wonderful introduction to let you enjoy the real essences of the attraction. Besides, the private transfer service would save your time for waiting for the vehicles and other parts along the road. You could just have a relaxing rest on the private car and focus on the highlights. For more details about private tour with China Discovery, you could contact our professional Travel Consultant who would help tailor make your tour best suitable for your needs and budget.

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