Hakka Culture and Mudflat: Tulou & Xiapu
Unlike the famous Beijing, Shanghai and Guilin, Fujian Province is often ignored by foreign tourists. In fact, there are two masterpieces deserving your attention – Tulou and Xiapu mudflat. One is built by indigenous Hakka people, and one is carved by nature.
Tulou is the embodiment of Hakka Culture and it’s the residence and fortress of Hakka people. This earth building complex is the distinguished one in the art of architectural world. It’s the great place for architectural photography and Hakka Culture photography. Xiapu is called the most beautiful mudflat in China by domestic photographers. This place is not a tourist attraction, but a photographer’s paradise. Every year, numerous shutterbugs come here, try to record the affecting beauty through clicks.
This Fujian photography tour can be customized depending on which sites you want to visit, what photos you want to take, and on the weather condition when you go. Feel free to tell your interests and ideas to your personal travel consultants!
Travel Route: Xiamen / Nanjing / Yongding / Xiamen / Xiapu
Travel Length: 6 Days
Tour Code: CD-PTTXT-06
Tour Type: Customizable Private Tour
Departure: You Choose (you may plan it according to the best season and time.)
Designated as World Heritage Site, Fujian Tulou is the unique rammed earth construction in the world. Tulou was oriented from Song Dynasty and mature in Qing Dynasty. The oldest Tulou has a history more than 600 years. Tulou represents the Hakka Culture which is mainly about unity and endeavor. One Tulou is one small community which contains dozens of families. People lived in Tulou are like a big family, and they help each other and defend against the enemies together. Most of Fujian Tulou is located in Nanjing County and Yongding County. In the two counties, there are five Tulou clusters in total.
Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster is located in Nanjing County, and it’s consisted of one square Tulou, one elliptic Tulou and three circular Tulou. Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster is also called “four dishes and one soup” due to its pattern. This Tulou Cluster is preserved intact. Though this site is slightly developed, the local people are simple and sincere and most of them still retain the old customs. You can watch the panoramic view of the cluster from the observation deck besides the cluster, or just enter into the tulou and shoot the inner structure. On the way to Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, you will pass one interesting Tulou – Yuchanglou or you can call it Zigzag for the vertical wooden post structure is not straight and perpendicular, but zigzags left and right. The zigzag is caused by an error measuring of the building materials. However, due to this apparent infirmity, this tall tulou has survived many rains and earthquakes.
Hongkeng Tulou Cluster was originated from Ming Dynasty. It’s located at Yongding County. Together with temple, school and ancestral hall, Hakka Tulou with different shapes and different sizes were built along the river side. Those earth buildings perfectly blend in the surrounding mountain, river and pastoral strip. The most famous Tulou in Hongkeng Tulou Cluster is Zhengchenglou, which is also called “the prince of tulou”. Zhengchenglou is a double ring tulou, and the outer ring has 184 rooms while the inner ring has 32 rooms. This building was designed according to Bagua concept of Chinese Fengshui theory.
Located at Gaobei Village, Yongding County, Gaobei Tulou Cluster is one of the essences of world cultural heritage. Dozens of tulous nest under the mountain and near the river, which presents a great idyllic scenery for us. The most famous one among Gaobei Tulou Cluster is Chengqilou, which is also called “the king of tulou” by its fans. With a diameter of 62.6m, Chengqilou has 370 rooms in total, and the 15th generation Jiang clan with 57 families and 300 people live here.
Chuxi Tulou Cluster is located at Chuxi Village, Yongding County. Chuxi Village has more 2000 thousand people and they are all belonging to Xu clan. Chuxi Tulou Cluster contains five circular tulous and 31 square tulous. Jiqinglou is the largest round tulou, which was built in Ming Dynasty. The structure of Jiqinglou is very special, for there are 72 staircases in total, and every family use one staircase. On the back mountain beside Chuxi Village, there is an observation platform and you can see the panoramic view of the whole village here.
Nanxi is a river name and it passes through the Hukeng County. More than 100 tulous with various shapes and sizes lie along the banks of Nanxi River. This tulou strip is extended to several miles, just like a long dragon, so some people also call Nanxi Tulou Cluster the “Tulou Great Wall”. Famous tulous in Nanxi Tulou Cluster are Huanxilou and Yanxianglou. Huanxilou is the only tulou without ancestral hall among Fujian Tulou. This is unbelievable in the old times, so people call Huangxilou the most rebel tulou in Fujian.
You can visit Fujian Tulou all year around. Yongding and Nanjing County feature a subtropical monsoon climate, and the weather is relatively moderate with an annual average temperature of 18-27℃. The frost-free days are over 300 days, and the winter is not too cold while summer is not too hot. If you are interested in folk customs, lunar New Year period is a good time to visit. During this time, you will encounter many folk activities, like local wedding banquet, Celebration of the Lantern Festival, etc.
1. Recommended equipment
To shoot the panoramic view of Fujian Tulou, a wide angle lens is always needed. Tripod to help to steady the camera is also recommended.
2. Where to shoot
Outside the Tulou, there are usually observation decks or platforms where you can shoot the panoramic view. While inside the Tulou, you can shoot in so many locations. Each floor has its own special perspective to shoot. Normally, the top floor is the best place to shoot the whole tulou. While on the first floor, you can shoot from a low angle and get picture with another style. Local people, wooden furniture and some living staffs in tulou are also great things to shoot.
3. Transportation advice
There are high speed trains commuting between Xiamen and Nanjing, and it’s only about 40min. Once you get into the Tulou scenic spot, public transportation is limited, so the best way to tour is taking a private vehicle.
4. Accommodation advice
Stay overnight in tulou is an interesting experience, however, the accommodation condition is not very good, and tulou only provide public lavatory. Thus, if you can’t accept this, we recommend you to stay at the hotel near from tulou. These hotels have a better accommodation condition.
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Welcome to Xiamen, the Garden City on the Sea! Clear the customs and retrieve your baggage by yourself upon arrival, be greeted by our tour guide in the airport or train station who is holding a sign on which says your name. A comfortable vehicle (non-smoking) with experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you check in. The rest of today is on your own to explore this beautiful city.
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After breakfast, take a 3-hour scenic drive to see the earth buildings in Nanjing County. You’ll visit Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, Yuchanglou, and Taxia Village.
After the tour in Nanjing, head to Gaobei Village in Yongding, pay a visit to Chengqilou. Stay overnight in Yongding.
Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster: Composed primarily of four round and one rectangular earthen house, it is one of the most magnificent and well-preserved Hakka Castles in the area. The village is also listed in the Famous Historic Cultural Village in China for its typical cultural regional system.
Yuchanglou: Yuchanglou was built in 1308 and is one of the oldest existing Tulou. This five-story earth building is most famous for its tilted pillars. The most extreme is slanted at 15-degree angle.
Taxia Village: There are more than 20 earthen building of different shapes built along the bank of a clear brook that flows through the entire village.
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In the morning, you’ll visit Chuxi Tulou Cluster and Hongkeng Tulou Cluster. After the tour, transfer back to Xiamen City.
Chuxi Tulou Cluster: It has the five large circular buildings and ten rectangular buildings. Jiqinglou is the oldest with a history of 600 years and most special round earth buildings in this area. All rooms, stairways and interior walls are constructed with wood and rabbet structure. Not even a single nail is used for the construction and the earth building remains intact after 600 years. Jiqinglou also houses more than 10,000 exhibits about the unique life, history and culture of the Hakka people.
Hongkeng Tulou Cluster: it is the most concentrated of all earthen house clusters. Some of the house designs are unique, including the Zhenchenglou (a magnificent building combining the Chinese style with the western style), Fuyulou (Five-Phoenix House), Kuijulou (a palace style building) and Rushenglou (a mini-sized circular building).
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After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. Today you’ll head to the southern tip of Xiamen Island and visit the cultural relic Hulishan Fortress. First built in 1894, during the Guangxu reign in the Qing Dynasty, it has always been an important landmark in the island’s history, also served a key role to defense against the Japanese in 1900.
Later, transfer to the ferry for a 5-minute boat trip to Gulangyu Island from Xiamen City. Start to visit Sunlight Rock, the highest point of Gulangyu, to have a panoramic view of both Gulangyu and Xiamen. Also visit to Shuzhuang Garden, a beautiful seaside garden and the famous Piano Museum with a collection of 80-fold rare old pianos from all over the world.
Then, head to South Putuo Temple which first built in Tang Dynasty. It is renowned for its collection of Buddhist cultural relics, such as a Burmese jade carving of the Buddha, some important Buddhist texts. Standing at the top of the Wulao Peak, you can enjoy the bird’s eye view of Xiamen University and Xiamen Port.
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Today, after breakfast, you’ll take a 3 hours high speed train from Xiamen to Xiapu.
You will arrive at Xiapu by midday, and after checking in the hotel and having lunch, take some rest. In the afternoon, you’ll be driven to Xiaohao – the favored place by many photographers – to shoot the sandy mudflat and the labor scene of the fisherman. After shooting in Xiaohao, get to Dongbi, which is only 2km from Xiaohao. At Dongbi, you will shoot small boat sailing across the seaweed farm under the golden sun. Xiaohao and Dongbi are both great place to shoot sunset on the sea.
After the shooting, drive back to the hotel.
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Get up early and drive to Beiqi, a famous seaweed farm of Xiapu County. Beiqi is allegedly the most beautiful shooting place in Xiapu. Tiger-skin-like mudflat stripe and shades of poles, fishermen and fishing boat, under the sunrise light, you will shoot the poetic photo from here. After shooting the sunrise of Beiqi, get back to your hotel and have breakfast.
After getting some rest, drive to Shajiang Village to shoot sea and seaweed poles. Shangjiang is the only place suitable to shoot in daytime. Best shooting angle is from the top floor of Xiapu No.2 Middle School. Shangjiang is also great place to shoot the local old house.
In the afternoon, you will visit Yantian, which means salt pan in Chinese. Yantian is the home to Sea Gypsy, which refers to the people who live on the shabby boat and make a living by fishing and collecting shells.
After the shooting, you’ll be escorted to the Xiapu Railway Station to your nest destination.