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self-driving travel

Self-serviced Tour of Ancient Huizhou – chasing after the dream to Shangrila

Huizhou is a fantastic place with a long history and home to many outstanding people in different fields. The ancient Huizhou included Tunxi, Shexian, Yixian, Jixi, and Xiuning of today in Anhui Province. Peaceful and exquisite is the landscape here, and the ancient houses in Huizhou boast remarkable local features. People feel as if they were in Shangrila when travelling along the beautiful mountains and rivers and appreciating the dream-like ancient houses and plain folk culture. If you’ve been fascinated, then start your self-serviced tour of Huizhou in this fall.
First of all, let me remind you that the mileage we mention is not just the distance between two places, but also that you may cover in a whole day.
Travel line:
1. Beijing to Nanjing, 1,000km. You start your journey from Jing-Jin-Tang Highway and drive along the Jing-Hu Highway towards Nanjing as the first stop. You come out of Jing-Jin-Tang Highway at Yangcun exit (Toll fee: 25 CNY) and drive about 38 km ahead to the entrance of Jing-Hu Highway. During the journey, you’ll pass Hebei Tollgate (Toll fee: 40 CNY), Shandong Tollgate (225CNY), and then quit the Jing-Hu Highway at Huaiyin exit to Ninglan Road (non-Highway) (Toll fee: 30 CNY). Finally you enter the Nanjing urban area through Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge.
2. Nanjing to Huangshan, 300km. From Nanjing to Ma’anshan on highway (Toll fee: 20 CNY), and then to Wuhu along No. 205 National Road, 110 km covered. Continue your journey from Wuhu to Xuanchengxi along Xuanwu Highway, 72 km, and then turn to No. 318 National Road to Nanling (43 km), where you proceed on No. 205 National Road along the route Jingxian – Zhexi – Caijiaqiao – Tangkou, 149 km. Most of the road signs are correct and you need pay the toll of 50 CNY during the journey.
3. Huangshan to Hongcun, 92 km. From southern entrance gate of Huangshan to Hongcun. There are several alternatives: first, drive 16 km southwestwards from Rucun (10 km away from Tangkou on the south); second, drive from Huangshan Mountain to Xiuning, and then go westwards to Yuting and turn northwards to Hongcun. This is the longest route (92 km), but taken by the most travelers because of the good traffic condition (main road) and clear road signs. The third choice is, to drive southwards from Tangkou to Lantian, then to Xiaoxi, Xidi, Shishan, until you get to Hongcun. This route is 72 km long.
4. Hongcun to Tunxi to Shexian, 131 km. This route covers the majority of Huizhou scenic spots, such as Hongcun, Guanlu, Nanping, Xidi, Yuliang, Xucun, Huashan Mysterious Grottoes, and Tangyue Memorial Archways. You stop at Shexian for the night. Please note: fill up you car at big towns like Yixian, Shexian, and Tunxi, because there is nearly no gas station on the way.
5. Shexian to Qingyuan to Likeng, 101 km. Two alternatives to Qingyuan, one is through Jingdezhen, and the other is through Tunxi. The latter is taken by the most because of the good traffic condition (winding blacktop).
6. Return route. Drive from Jingdezhen to Jiujiang, and then to Hefei, until you arrive in Beijing, on highways.

Classic Sights:
1. Yixian Yixian is named after the ancient Huangshan Mountain which was then called Yishan. The unbroken hills in the county stretch to Huangshan Mountains and block the area from the outside for a long time in the history, so that the ecology here has been kept like Shangrila. Yixian is one of the origins of Hui Culture. Over 3,600 well-preserved ancient houses scatter among the mountain areas like shining living fossils. Hongcun and Xidi, as two representative of these ancient villages that one must visit, were inscribed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO on November 30, 2000.
Xidi, titled as Village in Shangrila, is the settlement of Hu family, bound together by the ties of kin. Up to now, the village still keeps 224 houses built in Ming & Qing Dynasties, among which 124 are perfectly preserved. Situated at the foot of hills and beside rivers, Xidi is designed like a ship, clean and tidy. Around the village, three streams flow westwards. Eight scenic spots in Xichuan are elegant and quiet. Immersed in plain folkway, people here lead an idyllic life, easy and peaceful. All this is best illustrated on some houses’ lintels, which are carved with “Village in Shangrila”. Isn’t Xidi a dreamlike fairyland to us, who struggle desperately in modern cities?
Hongcun, over 140 houses constructed in Ming and Qing dynasties are perfectly preserved here. According to the principles of bionics, people designed and built the village, so that it looks like a buffalo. The villagers shaped a natural spring into a half-moon pool which functions as the stomach of the buffalo, the hill was made as the head, trees as the horns, houses as the body, and the bridges as the feet. The design of Hongcun village embodies China’s Taoism thought that man is an integral part of nature. Chengzhitang in the village is acclaimed as “Imperial Palace in the Folk”.
There are also such scenic spots as Bamboo Forest at Mukeng, Autumn Views at Tachuan Village, wood-carving buildings in Lucun, Nanping Village, Guanlubajia, Xunyangtai, and Taoyuan Cave.
2. Shexian Shexian, so called “China’s first ancient local capital”, is the location of the government of ancient Huizhou, and occupies a very important position in the history of Hui Culture. There are 19 ancient ruins, 13 ancient tombs, and 385 ancient architectures in this old town. Ancestral temples and archways constructed in Ming and Qing dynasties as the essence of Hui-style buildings, the old street and stone dam with ancient charm, the dreamlike Hui-opera, Hui-ink and She-ink-stone, all these are deeply attractive. There are also famous stone arch and two watchtowers on the east and west of the town.
Tangyue Memorial Archways, located in the entrance of Tangyue village, is the biggest group of archways in China and arranged in the order of loyalty, filial piety, chastity, and righteousness. Yuliang Dam, located on the south of the town, is an uncommon ancient retaining dam. Gaoyang Corridor Bridge and Daguan Pavilion at Xucun are models of folk architectures. Zhushan Academy at Xiongcun represents Hui merchants’ emphasis on education. The Corridor Bridge at Beian village is one of the best among Hui-style buildings of the kind.
3. Tunxi Tunxi Old Street is an ancient pedestrian street with clear Song, Ming and Qing styles, the best preserved one in China. It is located in the downtown of Tunxi District, 832 meters long and 5-8 meters wide. Chengshisanzhai (The Three Houses for the Cheng’s), that is, No. 7, 8, and 9 houses of Cheng Family in Baishu Street, are models of Ming-Dynasty folk houses.
4. Jixi Jixi, the hometown of Hui merchants, is the birthplace of Anhui Cuisine, Hui-ink, and Hui-opera. Ancestral Hall of Hu Family at Longchuan and the stone archway of Yishishangshu tell the long history of this area. Menlouxiang at Hucun, full of lifelike brick, wooden and stone carvings of Hui style, is regarded as “the Living Fossil of Hui Culture”. Jixi has 1500 years’ history of sericulture, and two of the four great experts on ink-making in Qing Dynasty were from Jixi. In the birthplace of Anhui Cuisine (one of China’s Eight Major Styles of Cooking), people can taste the world famous “First-class Pot”, named after Hu Shi. Huiling, named by Qianlong, an emperor of Qing Dynasty, and praised with poem by Wang Anshi, a statesman of Song Dynasty, gives the name of Hui to Huizhou and Anhui. The ancient Hui-hang Cliff Path, Jiangnan First Pass, Qipancun, Kancun are all worth visiting.
5. Huashan Mysterious Grottoes, located in the east of Tunxi District of Huangshan Cit, are another wonder at North Latitude-30°N, the “Mystery Line” famous for the locations of many of the world wonders around it such as the Egyptian pyramids, the Bermuda Triangle and Noah's Ark as well as the Huangshan Mountains.
The grottoes are different from all the other well-known grottoes in China as they are not caverns formed by natural forces, but a group of caves dug by ancient people from underground, which are of huge size and odd shape. By now people have found 36 caves, all of them scattering in a line on the south bank of the Xi’an Jiang River. The experts from the Construction College in Qinghua University claimed these caves “of large quantity and odd shapes, and covering an extended distance”. They are hidden either in the hills or under the waters in the lower reaches of the River in Tunxi, the mouth of which usually covered by tall trees and luxuriant grasses. No wonder even the most experienced foresters and rhizotomists have failed to reveal them.
In the excavated caves, you can see the stands and the emerald ponds with bridges across, all dug out of the rocks and arranged in the right places. Walking among these, you will feel in a labyrinth, sometimes in a sudden narrow turn and sometimes in an open up hall. Just as the Egyptian pyramids, Huashan Grottoes put forward another mystery to the world: who made these caves? When and how? And how and where did they transport the rocks? And how did such great events escape being recorded in history? And why did people fail to discover these huge caves until modern days?
When clearing up these caves, people found plenty of historical relics such as oil lamps and glazing potteries, many of which are pots, bowls, and jars. According to the experts, these potteries are made during the Jin Dynasty. Therefore some claim that the grottos are first shaped in Jin Dynasty or even earlier. This speculation is supported by the stalactites found on the rock walls because it takes 1,500 to 2,000 years to form such long stalactites as 5 to 6 centimeters.


  • 古徽州文化旅游区
  • 古徽州文化旅游区

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