Nestled away on its cliff-top perch high up in the Wanxian (Ten Thousand Immortals) Mountains in north Hénán is this delightful high-altitude stone hamlet. For centuries sheltered from the outside world by a combination of sheer inaccessibility and anonymity, Guōliàngcūn shot to fame as the bucolic backdrop to a clutch of Chinese films, which firmly embedded the village in contemporary Chinese mythology.
Today the village attracts legions of artists who journey here to capture the unreal mountain scenery on paper and canvas. New hotels have menacingly sprung up at the village’s foot, but the original dwellings – climbing the mountain slope – retain their simple, rustic charms, while long treks through the mind-boggling scenery more than compensate efforts at journeying here.
Approximately 6°C colder than Zhèngzhōu, Guōliàngcūn is cool enough to be devoid of mosquitos year-round (locals say), but pack very warm clothes for winter visits, which can be bone-numbing (hotels are too primitive for central heating). Visiting off season may seem odd advice, but come evening the village can be utterly tranquil, and moonlit nights are intoxicating. Occasional power cuts plunge the village into candlelight, so pack a small torch.
Officially, the entrance charge for Guōliàngcūn is Y35 (admission to the Wanxian Mountains Scenic Area), although your minibus driver may offer you a slightly better price to speed you past the checkpoint.