A picturesque paradise eulogized in verse by the literati

Tonglu County, in southwest Hangzhou, is one of "China's Top 10 Tourism Counties" for a reason.

Fuchun River

For those who like being outdoors, Luci Village makes for a pastoral weekend getaway. Hiking, through lush forests filled with pine trees and bamboos, allows travelers to get some much-needed fresh air.

The area also has dozens of family-run guesthouses. These simple hostels give travelers a chance to experience life like a local and are famous for serving great meals made from fresh catches and locally raised animals. Free-range chicken, lettuce, bamboo and fish dishes are all highly recommended.

With a growing number of people living in cities longing for an escape from the stresses of the daily urban grind, farmhouses in the village have become even more popular with tourists.

If tourists want to immerse themselves in a flower sea, they could head to Dipu Village. Instead of growing cash crops, villagers plant a vast area of flowers in the four seasons to allure sightseers. For example, it is covered with vibrant yellow sunflowers that emit a feeling of hope and vigor every autumn.

Another highlight of Tonglu’s tourism industry is rivers and mountains.

The Fuchun River runs through the county with some crisscrossed tributaries. The river is known for its long link with literature and the arts. Many scholars have lived there or written poems about the area.

Today, it still remains a fishing platform of the famous literati Yan Ziling. During the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) when Yan was too proud to accept an official post from the emperor, he sought refuge in the mountains and made a living by fishing.

The Fuchun River flows through green and luxuriant hills, offering many quiet and beautiful attractions. Inspired by the scenery, the famous painter, Huang Gongwang, created the “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains,” which today is one of the master’s few surviving works.

Ginkgo trees

Tonglu County, in southwest Hangzhou, is one of “China’s Top 10 Tourism Counties” for a reason.

Throughout its history, more than 1,000 literati, who patronized it, left nearly 3,000 poems eulogizing its picturesque landscape and idyllic lifestyle, which reflected the county’s abundant natural resources.

When sightseeing in Tonglu, travelers are often told to linger over the county and admire the old hamlets, rivers and forests.

To cash in on the tourism trend and preserve local folklore at the same time, the government began to develop villages that featured its own distinctive characteristics.

Around 25 hamlets were picked and divided into nine segments. Infrastructures and roads were then upgraded and given a facelift, and happy farmhouses were built to provide accommodation and food.

If tourists appreciate Jiangnan (south of lower reaches of Yangtze River) style architecture and lifestyle, then they will be in for a treat at Shen’ao Village, which dates back to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

The area still looks like a remnant from the past. There are antiqued bridges, temples, ancestral halls and other architectural structures with sculptured beams and engraved rafters. They represent classical Huizhou-style architecture, while also epitomizing traditional Chinese wood-carving techniques by virtue of the sophisticated sculptures on beams, rafters, eaves and furniture. Their interior wooden decoration is based on mythical creatures and auspicious motifs.

Yaolin Xianjing

Tonglu is also offering multifarious aquatic entertainment.

The paddling stretch along the Chuiyun Tongtian River starts from Bipu Port and ends at Lengkeng. A complete journey down this slow-moving and winding riverine course takes around an hour and a half.

Daxi Gorge is another attraction. The 8-kilometer stretch of rapids drops 198 meters, meaning there’s a 5-meter drop every 200 meters or so. Glaciers formed the gorge that features sheer cliffs, so rafters need to stay alert to appreciate the scenery because it passes by quickly.

For those who crave for natural scenery, Daqi Mountain National Forest Park is a good choice. It entices visitors with its lush vegetation, tranquil creeks, a gushing waterfall and majestic mountains.

Chuiyun Tongtian River is not far from the Yaolin Xianjing, which is considered one of the most extraordinary caves in China. The name literally means “fairyland.” Yaolin features wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, which were formed millions of years ago and take on colorful shades when lights are cast on the walls.

The cave was noted as early as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and is recorded in “The Historic Record of Tonglu.” In 1991, it was officially selected as “one of the 40 best tourist sites in China.”

Today, a water route linking Hangzhou and Tonglu is officially open to the public, offering people an alternative way to get there. Passengers can follow the track of ancient literati and imagine how they felt when they traveled on a boat all those years ago.

There are many hiking routes along the Fuchun River.

Peach blossoms

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