The Middle Kingdom is said to have 5,000 years of culture and these are just the places to learn about the rich history of China, whether you're interested in religion, politics, warfare or peoples.
Replicas of Qing Dynasty mansions line Jinli Old Street (Jǐnlǐ Gǔjiē, 锦里古街) selling local souvenirs as well as tea, books, musical instruments and caricatures. While several large restaurants can be found here, the real charm lies in the small snack alley between Wuhou Temple and Jinli. Here the overpowering odor of stinky tofu is softened by sweet caramel, spicy beef, rice cakes, noodles and sesame buns—made to order amidst the din of hawkers and touts shouting their products. Locals fill the street nightly—especially on..
A large and colorful archway greets you at the entrance of Tianjin's Ancient Culture Street (Gǔwénhuà Jiē, 古文化街). Like its counterpart in Beijing, the famous Liulichang (Liúlíchǎng,琉璃厂), the street is an attempt to recreate a traditional Chinese neighborhood in the middle of a modern urban landscape. Though almost everything a fabrication of "old China," it's not hard to appreciate the careful inclusion of authentic-enough details, including carved and brightly colored columns, curved balconies and stylized..
The Ancient City of Dali (Dàlǐ Gǔchéng, 大理古城), or Dali Old Town, is another great example of ancient and modern fusing together in China. The architecture is indeed ancient with traditional Bai homes, shops and markets forming the core of the city, surrounded by a huge stone wall punctuated by four gate towers. Even the newer construction is modeled in the old-style and the result is a rather seamless combination of old and new. The small, walkable old town is a convenient base to explore the..
Located in Túnxī (屯溪), the central district of Huangshan City, Tunxi Old Street (屯溪老街 Túnxī Lǎo Jiē) is a stone pedestrian street lined with old shops and restaurants in restored buildings, some originally dating back to the Song Dynasty, done in the traditional style of the region's Huizhou culture. Among those, Tóngdérén (同德仁) is a traditional Chinese medicine shop opened in the 1860s. Starting from the Zhenhai Bridge (镇海桥 Zhènhǎi Qiáo) in the west and ending in the east at the Memorial..
When people talk about Lijiang Old Town, they're usually referring to Dayan (Dàyán Gǔchéng, 大研古城). The UNESCO World Heritage Site Lijiang Old Town, also includes the nearby villages of Baisha and Shuhe as well as Dayan. This area survived a 1996 earthquake that leveled most of the modern buildings in town. In the wake of the disaster, Dayan gained fame as a quaint and authentic outpost of Yunnan culture and architecture and went from backpacker secret to tour package feature. Since then, it has struggled to retain its millennium-old..
A beautifully preserved riverside town in southwest Hunan, Fenghuang (Fènghuáng Xiàn, 凤凰县), or "Phoenix Town," is home to a large number of Tujia and Miao minority people, which is reflected in both the architecture and the local customs. The old town lies at the foot of a mountain spread across the two banks of the Tuo River (Tuó Jiāng, 沱江). The river can be crossed via a number of small stone and wood bridges or by hopping across twin rows of stepping stones. Billed as "China's most beautiful town,"..
Now connected to downtown Shanghai via Metro Line 9, Qibao Old Street (Qībǎo Lǎojiē, 七宝老街)—also known as Qibao Ancient Town (Qībǎo Gǔzhèn, 七宝古镇)—provides a glimpse of traditional China. Within easy day-trip range of the heart of the city an afternoon at Qibao Old Street, whether to visit the sites and museums or simply explore, makes for a great little escape from Shanghai. There is no admission fee for the street itself, but you can buy a RMB 30 ticket that will gain you admission to the individual sites and museums. ..
Modern Shanghai isn't just all skyscrapers and flyovers. The actual municipality covers an astonishing 7,037 sq km (2,717 sq mi), and within that urban sprawl, pockets of Old China endure, and the outlying water town of Zhujiajiao (Zhūjiājiǎo, 朱家角) is the most charming. Like Yangtze River water towns such as Tongli and Zhouzhuang, Zhujiajiao presents a charming face: willow-lined canals; traditional residences with whitewashed walls, grey slate roofs and classical garden courtyards; calm temples; crooked cobbled lanes and ancient stone..
Cité Bourgogne (Bùgāolǐ, 步高里) is a unique example of the shikumen style lane house dwelling constructed across the city during its early-twentieth-century heyday. Located in the former French Concession, one can stroll through the narrow lanes of this block-sized complex completed in 1930 and get a bit of a sense of yesterday's Shanghai. A blend of European and Chinese architectural features, the shikumen (which translates as "stone gate") neatly balanced the demands of density with those of privacy, creating tightly knit communities with..