Hongcun Village (name in Chinese characters 宏村)
Hongcun Village is an ancient village full of winding lanes around an hour north west of Huangshan City in Anhui province. Surrounded by creeks, waterways and lakes, Hongchun is a charming example of Qing Dynasty architecture and way of life.
Hongcun Village was founded during the Southern Song Dynasty period from 1131-1162AD by the powerful Wang clan. The actual buildings that you see in Hongcun Village now date back to the Qing Dynasty and are said to be one of China’s best surviving examples of architecture from that period. Hongcun Village has 158 domestic homes dating back to the Qing Dynasty, 137 of these are in good condition and still lived in by locals.
Covering over 19 hectares, Hongcun Village is fairly large and you can spend 3 to 4 hours wandering through the 99 laneways and 2 streets that make up the village. Even though Hongcun Village a World Heritage Site (declared in 2000) it is actually home of a thriving community and has a bank, a post office and everything else you need for modern day life.
The streets and lane ways are crammed full of shops and stalls set up by local residents selling wares that range from local specialty biscuits to delicious duck legs and home brewed wine. Ideal for shopping, eating and stocking up on souvenirs to take home.
When you wander off the main tour routes in the village, you can see the locals working and resting in their homes and courtyards watching tourists such as yourself stroll past. Surrounded by water, living in gorgeous homes with charming little courtyards, the locals have an enviable life style.
The main buildings in Hongcun Village are three ancestral halls, several larger residences, the famous Moon Pond that featured in the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and the South Lakes.
Chengzhi Hall – This is Hongcun Village’s largest halls, was built in 1855 and covers 2100 square meters with two story’s. Chengzhi Hall has 28 rooms all together (try counting them), a fish pond and a private well.
Lexu Hall – This is my personal favourite and was used for more formal occasions such as meetings and marriages. Like most of the halls, the center of Lexu Hall has an open roof above a very nice square slate floor. The main room of the hall is adjacent to the open room and very large.
Jinxiu Hall – A 286 square meter hall that is off the Moon Pond and has a very nice little plant filled courtyard.
Utopian Residence – Also a small hall with only 270 square meters. It has hand carved wooden flower screens which is its claim to fame in the village.
Moon Pond – This is a crescent shaped pond in the center of the village. Moon Pond is surrounded by homes, shops, two halls and most of the streams that follow Hongcun Village’s lane ways empty into it. Moon Pond is one of the most visually spectacular areas in the village and extremely photographic when not crowded by the ever present tour groups.
The best way to get to Hongcun Village from Huangshan City is to take a bus from Huangshan City’s main bus station. The bus fare is 19rmb and the bus times are listed below. The bus trip takes around an hour or a little longer.
Huangshan City to Hongcun Village – 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00
Hongcun Village to Huangshan City – 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 13:00, 14:30, 16:00
Huangshan City only has one major bus station so not hard to find. Taxi fare there from the centre of the city is around 8-10rmb or you can catch the number 12 bus near Old street
Tips for Visitors to Hongcun Village
When to visit – Hongcun Village is delightful and its only problem are the hordes of tour groups you find there. Best to go during the week or early in the morning when it is less crowded.
Timing – You can see Hongcun Village in half a day and most tour groups do BUT it is much more enjoyable make it a day trip and enjoy it properly. Plenty of nice restaurants there where you can have a break and enjoy a local specialty lunch.