After having spent the weekend in the Yellow Mountains, we decided to go to Hongcun, a traditional Chinese village. During the 45-minute taxi ride from Tangkou to Hongcun (100 RMB), we were reading some articles about the village that got us rather demotivated.
One particular article, written by a Chinese guy, was relatively negative about the fact that it was ruined by tourism. Everything has its supporters and opponents, but if a Chinese person already starts complaining about tourism, you know it’s serious. On top of that, we knew we had to pay 104 RMB each to enter the picturesque village. After having spent quite a lot already during the weekend, this seemed like a huge amount of money. Luckily, students pay half the price and once we entered Hongcun, we were immediately stunned by the beauty of it. I’m a sucker for symmetry, so, of course, I was delighted to see this perfect harmony Hongcun has to offer.
Too Much Tourism?
Interestingly, when we entered a restaurant overlooking the famous bridge, we were faced with a rather hostile attitude. This nice place, where many Chinese people were enjoying lunch, did not have any food for us. After just sitting there for a while, they eventually brought a menu and we could finally order.
On the one hand, we can’t blame them. They live a simple and quiet existence in this picturesque village and maybe they just don’t like the fact that tourism is having too much of an impact on their rustic way of life. And, while Hongcun already welcomes many Chinese visitors, this place is not yet well known among foreigners who, by the way, until recently required a permit to visit Hongcun.
Unesco World Heritage
On the other hand, though, they are well aware of the fact that, since 2000, they are UNESCO World Heritage. And so they like to exploit this to the fullest, which means they want you to pay an entrance fee. On top of that, there are multiple guards stationed at different entries and exits to check your ticket. Very authentic…
I think we were still lucky to have seen Hongcun at this moment. It’s currently not that easy to get there by public transport and there’s not that much information to find online. I think that in ten, maybe five years already, this picturesque village will be too touristic. Souvenir shops are slowly making their entrance, modern bars and restaurants are emerging and then there’s the entrance fee.
Either way, Hongcun was definitely worth a visit and it was a nice end to our trip to the Anhui province. We stayed there for about three hours and after that, we went back to Huangshan Railway Station by taxi (160 RMB) to catch our train to Shanghai.