One of eight Ming-era fortified villages in the area, Yunshan is a gem. Protected by a wall and a main gate, and overlooked by the Yunjiu Mountain (云鹫山, Yúnjiù Shān), the settlement is a charming portrait of rural Guizhou and a window into the area's military history. After beating the last of the Yuan dynasty leaders in 1368 in Yunnan province, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Ming emperor, stationed a huge force in Anshun – a strategic military position – to ensure regional peace. Yunshan and other villages sprung up to house the troops and their families, who built them in the architectural styles of their home provinces in eastern China.
At the heart of the almost deserted Yunshan stands a rickety Money God Temple (财神庙, Cáishén Miào) opposite an ancient pavilion. Don’t miss the chance to walk up to Yunjiu Temple (云鹫寺, Yúnjiù Sì) at the top of Yunjiu Mountain for some wonderful views. You can walk virtually all around the temple for a sublime panorama of fields and peaks ranging off into the distance. In spring, flowering bright-yellow rapeseed plants (油菜花, yóucàihuā) add vibrant splashes of colour.
From Yunshan it’s a 25-minute walk down the road to the village of Benzhai (本寨, Běnzhài), also at the foot of Yunjiu Mountain. With its old pinched alleyways, high walls, carved wood lintels, stone lions and ancient courtyard residences, Benzhai is brim-full of history.
To reach Yunshan, take a bus bound for Jiuzhou (旧州, Jiùzhōu; ¥8, 40 minutes, regular, around 7am to 7pm) from Anshun’s east bus station. The bus will drop you off on the main road northeast of the village. It's a 15-minute walk through a modern area of houses to reach the entrance gates to Yunshan. To get back, flag down any Anshun-bound bus back on the main road or a bus bound for nearby Qiyanqiao (七眼桥, Qīyǎnqiáo) and then take a bus back to Anshun. From Qiyanqiao you can also transfer to buses for Tianlong.