Kaiping Dialou by Bike Trip Recap

Kaiping Dialou by bikeIn march 2007 the  Kaiping county, (Jiangmen city , 300 km from  Shenzhen) was elected as the 36th world heritage for Unesco in China and only one in Guandong province.

What make this county so unique is the  architecture of thousand of buildings scattered around this territory in hundreds of villages, the so called Diaoluou, a mix of Chinese and western architecture that give to this area a fabulous outlook.

The Diaolous were built in the beginning of the past century mostly from overseas Chinese, emigrate in America and HK from their villages, in that time infested by thieves and robbers.

This kind of building is very solid and the construction can resist to attack and used for defensive reasons.

Few of these villages and Diaolous has been recently restored,  and some of them became quite famous tourist destination as Li Yuan garden, Zilicun, Majanlong, but other hundreds of villages are worthy of a visit  featuring beautiful castle fashioned buildings and stunning decorations.

The best way to visit these not well know villages is by bike, as the countryside road are mostly traffic free and flat. As the area is quite big it’s convenient to forecast at least a two days trip.

The starting point can be the city of Shuikou on the highway Fokai (Foshan to Kaiping).

This is the northern point that we will touch. You can exit from the higway and park your car in the village of Da Yuen where there is also a nice family restaurant inside a courtyard house dating more then 500 years. Near this beautiful dwelling there is also an old Taoist temple dating more then 1000 years that is worthy of an accurate visit.

Proceeding in south direction on the national road 325 you will see dozen of attractive villages with outstanding buildings on both side of the road like  Dongxi Village that feature 2 pillboxes and 2 fine decorated houses. After Kaiping town you will find on the left  Le Dong village  with 3 pillboxes one pool in front of the village and several nice decorated houses. Here the Diaolou called Xie Qun Lou has been declared national monument.

After the village of Tong Ren a small road on the right hand side (N 274) introduce to another group of villages with beautiful buildings like Shinkai Village with 5 pillboxes of which one is still inhabited and can be visited free of charge. The local people is very friendly and will let you take pictures of the interiors and of the view from the top of the Diaolou.

This road  after a run in the countryside ( about 10 km) introduce to another road ( N 555) coming from the  highway  exit Tangkou . This road pass trough to the most celebrated villages of Zilicun and Li Garden  that are of course worthy of the expence of 50 rm for the entrance tickets.

Even the other surrounding villages almost feature the same beautiful view and architecture like the village of Kouga and Anning .

Finally you will arrive to the intersection with the road that bring in 3 Km to Chikan town, that can be the overnight place with 2 small guest houses in the city center ( 50 rmb night ). Chikan is a fashionable old town with hundreds of buildings in western style and several Diaolou everywhere around . Some local restaurant can also offer nice food based on cooked rice and meet.

The second day  you should continue in direction south for a couple of Km and then turn on the left ( road N 275) in direction of Majanlong ( entrance ticket 50 rmb). This area is also worthy to a visit as the following village of Xiangang. Everywhere you will find outstanding buildings with fantastic architecture, a real paradise for photographers and lovers of art. From Xiangang , following the road 275 you can reach Jin Jiang Village surrounded by a river in a romantic countryside scenery.

If you are lover of the thermal bath it will be interesting to reach the city of Chishui ( 12 km east) where there are 2  hot spring  resorts and country side style restaurants. Back from Chishui you will find another road on the right in direction Baisha ( 7 km) Also this road is surrounded from magic villages sometimes immerse into bamboo forest where the modern time looks is not arrived yet. From Baisha following a small country road you will reach Chikan again and then , following the river, to Kaiping and finally Shuikou.

In total you had a ride of more then 100 km in two days. You will feel a bit tired but you will never forget such experience in this fairyland county.

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The Contributor

Marco Loglio was born in Northern Italy. Shortly after he arrived in Shenzhen in the early 1990’s, he realized that next to the busy city center where over 10 million people live and work, there are still untouched areas where one can relax, enjoy spectacular scenery, visit abandoned villages, forests, waterfalls, lakes, and even see rare animals.

It is while conducting hiking and cycling groups in these areas for nearly 10 years that Marco decided to compile and share his knowledge in a single volume: “Shenzhen Hikes.”

Marco is an well-known Italian author and has published articles in various Chinese newspapers, including Shenzhen Daily.

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