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Xingping Ancient Town, a Sleeping Beauty along Li River

Beixingping ancient townng 63km from Guilin and 27km from Yangshuo, Xingping Ancient Town(兴坪古镇) dwells poetically along the east bank of Li River like a sleeping beauty. Reclusive yet easily accessible, this waterfront town incorporating ancient history and enthralling Karst topography, is reputed as the most beauty part of Li River. Take a bamboo rafter, you will pass along mist-shrouded hills with fanciful shapes and names, tranquil villages hidden among luxuriant bamboo forests, herds of buffalos grazing at the meadows, fishing rafters perched with cormorants and locals tend their rice paddies.

With South China Karst and ethnic culture complement each other’s charm, Xingping combines the best of Li River and countryside China. The craggy hills and fertile valleys have nurtured the earliest local civilization during Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). At that time, it emerged as a thriving community and a bustling trade center of Yangshuo. 1740 years have eclipsed, today, you can drink in the eternal landscape and unravel its history along Xingping Old Street and Xingping Fishing Village, which harbor stages of Tang and Song dynasties, architecture of Ming and Qing era, the relics of Xiping County (the forerunner of Xingping) and the ruins of various temples.

Cultural Xingping

As a maze of ancient villages, bridges, docks, pavilions, stages, temples, houses, laneways and trees, Xingping Ancient Town is noteworthy for its excellent layout conforming to Fengshui. Xingping Old Street and Xingping Fishing Village mark the starting point to demystify its weathered charm and history. Lined up with brick-wood residences, Xingping Old Street snakes its way for around one km long. Elaborate wooden, stone and brick carvings abound. Laneways leap off the main road at will. Business mansions hailing from all over China erect proudly. Red lanterns grace the low eaves of residences and shops. Locals stroll around with leisure pace. Though the once prosperous market is reduced to a serene retreat, yet, Xiping Old Street has so much to offer. You can sample local snacks, join in the festivals and events as well as see the legendary ancient Banyan tree here. Planted during Tang dynasty (618-907), this giant tree’s sprawling roots keep “eating” five Buddha statues and one giant rock weighing over 20tons.
xingping ancient town
Xingping Ancient Town

Another highlight is Guandi Temple built in 1739 in honor of Guan Yu(160-220), an formidable general living in Three Kingdom Period, whose deeds are depicted minutely in Water Margin. Inside of this temple sits an intact opera stage of Qing Dynasty, which is decorated with old-fashioned wooden carvings. Left of this stage sits one foldable wooden screen, whose bamboo patterns are said to be the works of Zhen Banqiao(1693-1764), one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, whose drawings of orchids, bamboo, and stones are unraveled masterpieces.
xingping ancient town
Xingping Ancient Town

<<<<<Xingping Fishing Village

Backed up by mountains and towering over Li River, Xingping Fishing Village is a frequent subject of postcards. The brief visit from two presidents, Sun Yat Sun and Bill Clinton help to popularize it. Its inhabitants, most of whom bearing the surname of Zhao, are said to be the descendants of emperors of Song Dynasty (960-1279). That partly explains why a surprising number of talented scholars keep churning out from here.
xingping ancient town
Xingping Fishing Village is a maze of ancient architectures
Built in 1506, Xingping Fishing Village represents Lingnan culture (southeastern China culture). It is a fine example of northern Guilin folk residences of Ming and Qing dynasties, just like Daxu Ancient Town and Fuli Town. Made of wood and brick, northern Guilin’s folk architecture mirrors the blend of Han and ethnic style architecture. The balconies projecting out in the second floor testify to the influence from local ethnic architecture. Xiping Fishing Village houses 48 well-preserved folk residences. Upturned eaves, black tiles, sloping roofs, arched screen walls, horse head walls, stone pillars, delicate wooden carvings are its defining features. Except enjoying the classic architecture, another fun here is to hang out with locals to fish with cormorant and taste the water bounty of the day.
xingping fishing villagexingping fishing village
 Xingping Fishing Village boasts 48 intact folk residences with delicate wooden, brick and stone carvings Xingping Fishing Village
xingping grass dragon dancexingping lantern show festival
Xingping Grass Dragon Dance Paper Lantern Dance

Picturesque Xingping

Flowing from northwest, Li River turns abruptly southwest at Xingping and forms the beautiful Liandao Bay(Sickle Bay). Embracing the ultimate beauty of South China Karst, this area is famed as the centerpiece of Li River. Take a 20-yuan note, you will find the very model of the image printed on it. Encircled by countless peaks ranging from 400 to 1701 m high, Li River slows down her footsteps. Bays and subterranean caverns are created. Villages colonize the plains blanketed with rice paddies. Seen in any angle, Xingping is a stunning paradise on earth. Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Snail Hill, Yellow Cloth Shoal, Tianshui Village, Lotus Cave and Xiping Fishing Village are must-see.
xingping ancient town
 One of the must-do in Xingping is to join locals to fish with cormorants and taste the water bounty

Colorful Xingping: Festivals and Events

Generally speaking, Xingping people are friendly and peaceful. On each first and fifth lunar day, they will offer sumptuous dishes to ancestors and gods. Besides, they also host various festivals and events.

Paper Lantern Dance: since 1000 years ago, Xingping people have invented the unique-shaped paper lanterns.Inside of these lanterns, candles and bells are placed. Lanterns in haxingping ancient townnd, a team of 22 performers will dance vigorously. The dazzling movements, coupled with the melodious tingling bells, bring out an eye-pleasing and awe-inspiring spectacle. 

Lion Dance: it is held during grand festivals. Accompanied by the cheerful music, one will hold the head and the other will hold the body of the lion before dancing enthusiastically. Firecrackers will be displayed to bring out a happy atmosphere.

Grass Dragon Dance: Dragon Dance is a timeworn Chinese ritual entertainment. Usually held during festivals such as Spring Festival, Temple Fair and Lantern Festival aiming to bring luck and fortune, it adopts various forms in different regions. Han Chinese usually perform Fire Dragon Dance, Hakka people perform Water Dragon Dance, while Xingping locals perform Grass Dragon Dance. From the 13th to the 15th day of the first lunar month, Xingping locals will sway the straw dragons lit up by incenses during night and visit each household.

Temple Fair: on the 19th day of each ninth lunar month, Xingping will celebrate Temple Fair, a over 400-year-old traditional festival in honor of Guan Yin( the God of Mercury). Except carrying out worship ceremony, locals will host activities including elaborate parade, local opera show, movies, basketball contest and chess competition.

Market Day: Xingping served as the earliest market in Yangshuo. With each 3, 6 and 9 settled as the market day, the over 1700-year-old Xingping market still continues its tradition. Streams of ethnic groups will pour in. The cries of vendors will last from eight o’clock in the morning to four o’clock in the afternoon. It is a perfect chance to get acquainted with authentic local life and culture. An assorted collection of local spatialities will be exhibited, such as bamboo handicrafts, opera masks, couplets, puppets tea, herbs, grotesque stones from Li River and wooden sandals possessing magical medical properties , which are can cure foot disease.
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