Come with China Tea Leaves to Kaiping (开平), for a one day getaway to a place with stunning architecture and pleasant villages, not far from Shenzhen. Kaiping is part of the five counties known as the top hometown of overseas Chinese. One in ten people with Chinese heritage living overseas have roots from this region.
It is also the hometown of diaolou (碉楼), a unique building type that acted as a fortress, watchtower, and clan house. Whereas palace and courtyard architecture throughout China expands out as it grows, the diaolou goes up. Thousands of diaolou are sprinkled throughout Kaiping’s districts, often rising seven, eight, or nine stories from low-lying villages. Those that emigrated sent back money they earned abroad, and sometimes brought back Western designs and furnishings adding to the distinction of their diaolou. This building phenomenon put Kaiping on the map as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, and makes it a must-see in Guangdong province today.
This is a special offer for the first time with China Tea Leaves, to see these UNESCO recognized sites in just a one day trip from Shenzhen. Our private shuttle will take us from Shenzhen to Kaiping, taking about two and a half to three hours.
First we’ll visit the Zili village (自力村). Several diaolou are set amongst the rice paddies, including two maintaining their original furnishings. Go inside and climb to the top for classic views of your surroundings. From Zili village, we will head to Li Garden (立园). Along the way we’ll see village life, women farming the rice paddies, and other diaolou dotting the greenway. Li Yuan is a masterpiece of Qing dynasty design, but it also incorporates western and middle eastern elements into its myriad gardens.
After a picnic lunch, we’ll continue through the rice fields, which with all the watchtowers and arcades might be starting to look like someplace between King’s Landing and Winterfell. First we’ll visit Jinjiangli (锦江里) village and its fine diaolou cluster. Their turrets, arches and colorful frescoes will make you feel like you’ve been transported to medieval Italy. From here, we’ll move on to Majianglong (马降龙) Village, which is known as the most beautiful village in diaolou country. Towers peek out like Roman villas from primordial forests, and from the roof your view dances across the tops of swaying bamboo branches. We’ll make a stop by Chikan (赤坎) town, whose many western buildings have been used as movie sets for historic Chinese films. We will drive back in the evening after an enchanting day in the castles of Kaiping.
Without traveling far from Shenzhen, you can see a world of architecture and revive yourself in the slower-paced villages of Guangdong province.
Saturday, March 30: approximately 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
Price: Adult: 545RMB, 515RMB SWIC or ABNet member.
Child 1.2-1.5m: 295RMB, 275RMB SWIC or ABNet member.
Price includes: Private shuttle from Shenzhen and around Kaiping, entrance tickets, and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.
Does not include lunch. Dining options are very limited around the villages, so please pack a picnic lunch.
Minimum 8 people, maximum 14
How to Book:
Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)
If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Kaiping in your introduction.