Arguably the most famous tourist attraction in Fujian province, these magnificent buildings are still a little removed from the tourist trail of China compared to the larger cities, and the attractions of Guilin or Xi’an. This article will give you all the information you need to make the perfect trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Tulou Roundhouses!
The roundhouses of the Hakka people in Fujian province are large round and square buildings built between the 13th and 20th centuries. Seen the new Mulan movie? These are those exact houses! The Fujian Tulou, in particular those of the Yongding region, are the most representative and best preserved examples of the Tulou of the mountainous regions of South-Eastern China. The Yongding Tulou also houses the largest building in the province.
Set amongst rice, tea and tobacco fields, the Tulou roundhouses are earthen houses several storeys high, and were built as housing for up to 800 people each. Originally built for defence purposes, they centre around an open courtyard with only one entrance, with windows to the outside only above the first floor. Housing a whole clan, the houses functioned as village units and were known as “a little kingdom for the family”. Today they are still lived in, and inside some Tulou, residents have set up a marketplace where they sell crafts, paintings and photographs of the local scenery.
Wandering through the Tulou roundhouses, it is as if you have stepped back in time. Surrounded by stunning countryside with farmers labouring and market stalls selling tea and fruit, it is a stunning view.
How to Get There
Coming from Fuzhou – Take the train to Longyan from Fuzhou North station (it takes approximately 2 hours 45 minutes). From Longyan you can either hire a driver, or take the bus from Longyan Old Bus Station to the Earth Building Cultural Village. There are 12 coaches everyday with the last one departing at 5pm. Price is 23 RMB and the bus will take approximately 2 hours. Alternatively, you can hire a driver from the hotel listed below for 300 RMB. The journey will take one hour and the car can take up to 4-6 people depending on the size of the group.
Coming from Xiamen – Take the train to Longyan from Xiamen station (it takes approximately 1 hour). From Longyan you can either hire a driver or take the bus from Longyan Old Bus Station to the Earth Building Cultural Village. There are 12 coaches everyday with the last one departing at 5pm. Price is 23 RMB and the bus will take approximately 2 hours. Alternatively, you can hire a driver from the hotel listed below for up to 4-6 people depending on the size of the group. Cost and duration will have to be negotiated with the hotel.
Where to Stay
We would highly recommend Fuyulou Changdi Inn. It is located inside the Earth Building Cultural Village, right next to the river. The building is magnificent and has a history of 137 years. With an incredible 160 rooms (18 of which are rented out as part of the Inn) it is built in traditional Hakka architecture. The owner, Stephen, is the 6th generation to live in the building. He is, along with his wife and daughter Coco, extremely hospitable and friendly, with Stephen able to speak English very well. See images of the Inn below –
They offer delicious home cooked meals at their little restaurant at very reasonable prices, as well as bicycle rentals and car rentals to the various Tulou buildings. Upon arrival you will be served traditional tea, although they also have coffee and ice cold beer. The rooms are clean and a generous size, all with WIFI. To reserve a room, contact Stephen on their website at www.fuyulou.net
What to Do
Entrance tickets to the Earth Building Cultural Village are 90 RMB per person regardless of how many days you plan to stay. We would recommend staying for 2/3 days.
Zhencheng Building — The Earthen Princess
Zhencheng Buidling was built in 1912. Its outer ring has 48 rooms on each of its four floors. The architecture is a mix of Chinese and Western design.
Kuiju Building — Palace-Style Square Building
Kuiju Building has a high front and low back. It contains numerous valuable sculptures, colored figurines, paintings, and calligraphic works. It is dubbed the Potala Palace of earthen buildings.
Chengqi Building — The Largest Tulou
Chengqi Building is almost three hundred years old and is made up of four concentric circular buildings. This King of Earthen Buildings as it is known, has 400 rooms and used to house 80 families, totaling more than 600 people in its most prosperous days.
Rusheng Building — the Mini Tulou
Rusheng Building was built in 1901 and is the smallest one of its kind ever found. It has three floors with just 16 rooms.
The Fuyulou Inn mentioned as a place to stay earlier, is also an attraction within the region, given is size and history.
Do make time to wander around the beautiful village and incredible countryside. Surrounded by rice paddies and mountains, it makes for an unforgettable trip.
We do hope you enjoy your visit to the magnificent Tulle Roundhouses! If you need any more information, ask us a question in the comments below!