The villages that dot the lush green countryside in southern Anhui, a region known as Huizhou, are a precious slice of old China. The merchants of Huizhou, known collectively as the Huishang, were renowned for their economic prowess. They used their growing fortunes to build large, elaborately decorated residences, many of which are still standing today. Among them, the villages of Xidi and Hongcun were declared UNESCO world heritage sites in 2000.
While the larger villages are becoming more and more popular with Chinese tour groups, the maze of cobbled streets, lavish ancestral halls, quaint bridges, and beautiful ponds are numerous enough to find a peaceful moment to yourself. Chock-full of culture, history, great local food, and even opportunities to get out to nature, this corner of China is a magical place for any visitor.