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  • Top 5 picturesque towns in China

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    China is constantly trying to modernize itself at an insane place, and a visit to some parts of Shanghai and Beijing will even convince you that you’re 50 years in the future. However, the Chinese value their cultural heritage, and even if sky-scrapers are sprouting regularly in the metropolises, the small rural towns haven’t lost any of their charm.

    When you visit China, a trip to the countryside is an eye-opening experience, and it will help you see the face of Chinese culture that has been somewhat lost in the asphalt jungle. So here are some of the most picturesque towns that you should visit.

    Laitan

    The ancient town of Laitan lies not far from the much larger Chongqing City in mainland China. Tourist often overlooked this amazing walled city in favor of more glamorous destinations, but the over 400 old houses and temples dating back to the days of the Quing Dynasty.

    The buildings have such a historic feel that visiting Laitan is almost like going back in time and visiting ancient China. Laitan temple houses over 1500 Buddhist sculptures, and on its upper level there is a old castle which can also be visited. The rustic paved streets winding between the ancient buildings are best explored on foot, with the obligatory stops for dim-sum at some small eatery or another.

    Wuzhen

    Wuzhen in Zhejiang Province lies on the banks of the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal, and the best way to described it would be as a small-town version of Venice. Various narrow canals crisscross the town, and while it has regular ‘dry-land’ streets too, the best way to explore it is by boat.

    In addition to the watery part of the town, there are many other attractions to see, for example the 19th century house of the famous poet Mao Dun, or the Fanglu Pavilion, and the unforgettable Bridge in Bridge, a junction of two ancient bridges.

    Hongcun

    Hongcun village in Yixian County has a very peculiar shape: the buildings of the village are arranged in the shape of an ox,  whose head is nearby Leigang hill (with two old trees on it symbolizing the horns). The four bridges across the stream that crosses the village are the legs, and the houses are the body (the locals think that the stream and the lakes of the village are the intestines).

    Many buildings in the village were built during the Ming and Quing dynasties, so it’s no surprise that Hongcun was designated a world heritage site (plus, some scenes from the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were filmed here).

    Dayangjie

    Dayangjie, nestled in the Ailao mountains, is a perfect picture of rural bliss. The village is inhabited by the Hani people, an ethnic minority.The village is surrounded by rice terraces sloping down the sides of the mountains, and the landscape is probably one o the most beautiful on earth.

    Dayangjie is not a tourist village, and there aren’t many conventional attractions to see, but the simple beauty and calm of the village is reason enough for anyone to visit it.

    Feng Huang Cheng

    Feng Huang Cheng in Hunan Province gets its name from a nearby hill that’s shaped like a phoenix, a sacred bird in Chinese folklore. The buildings along the Tuo Jiang river are held up by stilts, so when the water level rises, it still can’t reach people’s homes. There are very few visitors to this town, and very few of the locals speak any English, but they are very welcoming of foreigners.

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