Plan your China tour? China’s 30-year urbanization drive has produced a great number of booming towns and super cities. Urbanization has been a necessary condition for achieving sustainable development. But many towns and cities in China have their own ambitious city planning and development programs.
They sometimes compete each other for bigger, greater and stronger towns or cities. More and more towns and cities look alike in terms of shoppping malls, public parks, buildings and etc. After traveling around, you won’t have deep impression of the these towns and cities which closely resemble each other.
To curb the urban assimilation drive, in the past 30 years great efforts have been made by the local governments at different levels to have overall city construction plans and protect traditional elements especially in old towns and cities, balancing development and protection.
These exotic and charming old towns in China have still kept their own traditions and cultures, which have attracted more and more tourists home and abroad, greatly enhancing their understanding of a real China.
The top 10 old towns here are carefully hand-picked from the numerous old and historical towns in China. If you want to experience a real and genuine China, the top 10 list of the old towns in China will offer you the guidance in planning your own China tour.
1. Pingyao (Time Tunnel) 平遥
Location: Pingyao is a small town, about 80km southwest of Taiyuan in central Shanxi Province. Pingyao has plenty of cultural relics. The city wall was first built during the Zhou Dynasty (256 B.C.) and was expanded in 1370, the third year of the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu. In 1997, it was listed as a World Heritage Site.
Best Travel Time: Autumn
Sitting on the trade route between Beijing and Xi’an, Pingyao developed into a business center with the use of the nation’s earliest banks. These organizations were the first in China to use checks, and business came up in the 19th Century, when the city was the financial center of the Qing government. Pingyao is the best preserved ancient town in China.
See my Pingyao Trip Report
Location: Lijiang old town sits in the city of Lijiang City of Yunnan Province. Now it is a UNESCO Heritage Site. The old town has more than 800 years and was once a confluence for trade along the old tea horse road. Best Travel Time: All the year around; for snow scene, come to Lijiang in winter season. The Lijiang old town is famous for its orderly system of waterways and bridges. The old town of Lijiang is quite different from other ancient Chinese towns in architecture, history and the culture of its traditional residents the Naxi people. 3. Dali Old Town (drink tea and see flowers) 大理
Location: Yangshuo is located 65km the south of Guilin city in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south of China. The town has been 1400 years, famous for its picturesque mountains and rivers, a perfect place for holiday vacation where you forget time and experience the happiness of your vacation. Best Travel Time: April – October The area around Yanggshou is dotted with Karst peaks and the Li river meanders its way around them. Yangshuo is the final stop on any of the cruising on Li River. You may spend a few hours here or several days to explore its neighbouring areas.
Location: Zhouzhuang Water Town is located at the middle between Shanghai and Suzhou. It is an ancient town of Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province. The village abounds with rivers and lakes. Zhouzhuang boasts many cultural and historical relics.
Best Travel Time: All seasons, but avoid public holidays.
Regarded as “Venice of the East”, this town has the best water town preserved in China. The town has a history of over 900 years and most of houses in the town were constructed in Ming (1368-1644) or Qing Dynasties (1644-1911).The rivers and streams in Zhouzhuang passes the town and are connected by 14 stone-arch bridges constructed in Yuan (1271-1368), Ming, and Qing Dynasties.
Location: Tongli Town sits by the Grand Canal and the Taihu Lake, about 18 Kilometer away from Suzhou, 80 kilometer from Shanghai. It has a history of over 1000 years with very convenient transportation.
Location: Located 17 kilometres in the north of the city of Tongxiang, Wuzhen sit at the confluence of the four cities including Tongxian, Jiaxing, Huzhou and Wujiang, a typical water town in southern China. Various rivers circle streets; streest are linked by bridges.
Location: Fenghuang literally means “Phoenix” in Chinese, a small and old city, 145 km south to Zhangjiajie City and 50 km south to Jishou City in Hunan Province, China. Fenghuang covers an area of 1700 km with a population of 370,000. There are the minority ethnic group, such as Miaos, Tujias. Fenghuang was described as“the most beautiful ancient city in China” by the famous writer Louis from New Zealand.
Best Travel Time: four seasons Fenghuang has lots of relics and the sightseeing, the ancient city’s mountains and Tuo river, residents and establishment, temples and pavilions and so on. How to get to Fenghuang? You may first go to Zhangjiajie and connect buses to Fenghuang or you first go to Jishou and connect the buses to Fenghuang. Beijing West Station K267 12:58 / 14:53 next day.
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