With the sheer number of enchanted old towns in South China, the most famous ones like Lijiang in Yunnan, Yangshuo in Guangxi seem to get all the attention. However, here we also recommend Zhenyuan celebrated as the “Oriental Venice”, which we are sure will curl your toes as well. And you may add it to your list of favorites for your next China visit.
One of the most important old towns of the Miao people in China, Zhenyuan has been standing steadily on the eastern Guizhou for over 2200 years since 277 BC of the Warring States Period. The long history endows Zhenyuan with many heritage sites and cultural relics, while the surrounding Karst mountains and crossing river make it a beautiful grand garden.
Zhenyuan Ancient Town was favorably located at the edge of Yunnan-Guizhou plateau, and a transportation center connecting Burma, India and Thailand from the south and the capital Beijing of the north in the ancient times. So it was also called “Southern Silk Road”. The town enjoys a sub-tropical humid climate, with four distinct seasons and the average annual temperature of 16.4℃ (61.5℉). Without chilly winter nor hot summer, Zhenyuan is ideal for travelling throughout the year.
The highlights of Zhenyuan Old Town
With a small area of 3.1sqkm, Zhenyuan boasts 160 attractions including ancient wells, caves (Qinglong Cave), palaces, pavilions, temples, wharfs, museums, memorial archways, family ancestral halls, etc. that scatter in the crisscross ancient lanes. The folk house is a perfect combination of JIangnan courtyard and mountainous architecture, with elegant designs and environmentally sensitive. The nearby Miao and Dong villages with dense minority ethnic culture and customs are also a big draw for travelers.
The Wuyang River cuts through the town and divide it into two parts: “Wei City” in the south and “Fu City” in the north, which, from a distance, forming a Tai Ji diagram. “Fu City” is the entrance to the southernmost section of the Great Wall that is 300-kilometer long and extends to Hunan province. It is highly recommended to take a Wuyang River boat cruise along a 35-kilometer waterway to enjoy the Wuyang Three Gorges for the stunning landscape of oddly-shaped peaks, thrilling cliffs, dangerous caves, and amazing waterfalls.
What to eat in Zhenyuan
The food in Zhenyuan is of typical Guizhou cuisine – spicy and sour flavor. There are various dishes and snacks going to whet your appetite based on local fresh ingredients including the hot and sour fish (酸汤鱼), “the old dish” (陈年道菜), beef rice noodles (牛肉粉), chang wang noodles (肠旺面), tofu pudding hot pot (豆花火锅), Glutinous rice cake (糯米粑), and so on.