Top choice in Anhui

Designed around the bāguà, the eight trigrams of the I Ching, which match up with eight surrounding hills, Chengkan is a highly photogenic village that hasn't yet been completely restored, with arched bridges over waterways cloaked with lilies. Buildings are in various states of repair and visitors are far fewer than at villages more firmly on the tourist map. An S-shaped stream snakes through the middle, carving the symbol for yin and yang deep into the heart of the village.

Compared to Xidi or Hongcun, Chengkan remains comparatively underdeveloped and is not as well known, but this is a pristine village with an idyllic atmosphere. When you walk into the village, it's a bit like stepping into a maze, with its three main streets and 99 lanes cross-hatching the settlement. Most visitors are here to see southern China’s largest ancestral temple, Luo Dongshu Temple (罗东舒祠; Luó Dōngshū Cí), a massive wooden complex several courtyards deep that took 71 years (1539–1610) to build. Also worth a peek is the three-storey Yànyì Táng (燕翼堂), nearly 600 years old.

The best time to visit is in late April when yellow irises bloom in the shallows, adding a pop of colour to the scenes of whitewashed residences with their black slate roofs.

Tourist bus 3 runs from Tunxi's Tourist Distribution Center (¥10, 40 minutes, hourly 8am to 11am and 1pm to 4pm). To get the return bus from the exit, walk up the commercial street for 10 minutes; the last bus departs at 4pm.

Admission to Chengkan is included in the ¥220 combined ticket for the sights in Shexian.

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