Liang Qichao Former Residence Memorial Hall

Acclaimed Chinese thinker and statesman Liang Qichao was born in Xinhui. The former residence of the great scholar is similar to other traditional multi-storey buildings – ingeniously simple. The most notable feature of the house is his study room, the Yitang Study Room. Inside the room, you may close your eyes and imagine how Liang read the Four Books and Five Classics aloud attentively with the company of a distant sea view. The Wenchang pavilion at the entrance of the village was the place where Liang studied in when he was young. The pavilion now exhibits Liang’s personal belongings and posthumous work. It is a place for you to know more about this great scholar of his time. 

In the main living room, it showcases his official titles in the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China for visitors to have a better understanding of Liang’s achievements. Chakeng Village is where Liang Qichao grew up and it still looks the same as it was in more than a century ago.

Gudou Hot Spring Valley

Jiangmen is renowned for hot springs that it is called the “city of hot springs”. Among all the thermal springs, the most famous one is the Gudou Hot Spring Valley in Xinhui and it is relatively close to the downtown. Located at the foot of the Gudou Mountain, it faces towards the sea so that you can enjoy the mesmerising sceneries of the mountain and sea while you take a hot bath in the spring. The Gudou Hot Spring Resort has the rare geographical phenomenon of “two springs in one land”. One side of the resort is a freshwater spring with radon like Huaqing Pool in Xi'an, another one is a saltwater spring. The water of the two hot springs is originally from the mountain and sea respectively and both are rich in minerals. 

The Gudou Hot Spring Valley has all-rounded facilities. With spring water supplied from the mountain, the Festival Water World in the valley features a surfing area and playing area where children can have fun. For adults or kidults, they can play beach volleyball on the artificial beach. Or, they may enjoy the time in different hot springs in the Hot Spring Valley to beat fatigue. There are Chinese medicine spring pools, saunas and even a fish pool in the Valley! You may put your feet into the fish pool for fish to eat away the dead skin and smoothen your feet. At night, you can enjoy barbequed food, then take a rest and have a spa in the luxurious hotel.

Kaiping Diaolou and Villages

Diaolou comes to many people’s mind when talking about Kaiping. Diaolou is the signature architecture in Jiangmen indeed. Why does Kaiping own so many diaolou? It is because there was a lot of crime in the Wuyi region with bandits and frequent floods. Since the five ports were allowed to conduct foreign trade, the status of Guangzhou was gradually replaced by another four ports. Then the migrants from other regions have scattered to the Wuyi, causing land issues that later turned to the competition for land between the Hakka and the native Cantonese. The conflict is historically known as the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars. Diaolou were residential buildings constructed for preventing enemies, thieves and flooding. 

Diaolou structures were usually built in the form of villages. The most famous diaolou is, of course, the Zili Village where the well-known Chinese movie Let the Bullets Fly took place in. One village usually consists of three forms of architecture, including communal towers, residential towers and watchtowers. The communal towers were constructed by the whole clan or a few individual families. They were the earliest form of diaolou, resembling the tenement houses (or “Tong Lau” in Cantonese) in Hong Kong. Residential towers built by individual rich families and are more aesthetic than the communal towers. Comfortable and unique, residential towers in Kaiping are like the houses in Mid-levels in Hong Kong. Watchtowers, as its name suggests, are the towers for guards to observe in the village entrance or on the hills. Watchtowers are equipped with searchlights and alarms to notify the entire village when enemies and bandits have been spotted.

Diaolou in Zili Village, Jinjiang Village and Majianlong Village are especially notable because many overseas Chinese financially supported the construction and went back to their hometowns to build the towers. These towers have a touch of architectural styles of the West. They feature ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine styles. 

Ruishi Diaolou, regarded as the “First Building in Kaiping”, in the Jinjianli Village, Mingshi Lou of the Zili Village and Tianlu Lou are not to be missed during your trip to Kaiping. The European styles of the first two towers are simply impressive. Going to the top of Ruishi Diaolou and Mingshi Lou, the scenery from the above is genuinely unforgettable as you can see the whole village there. At the top of Tianlu Lou, you can see the buildings of the earlier days. Tianlu Lou protected many residents back in the days. Yesheng Mansion in the Zili Village is closely related to Hong Kong because the owner used to do business in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, he was frightened to death after being robbed on his way back to Hong Kong from Kaiping to get more money. Each tower has its own characteristics and stories, making diaolou structures in Kaiping worth a visit. 

Shangchuan Island and Xiachuan Island

Did you know there is an island in Guangdong where lots of Portuguese used to reside on besides Macao? The island has even got a Portuguese name! That is the Shangchuan Island in Waihai, Taishan. Before Portuguese colonised Macao, many Portuguese businessmen had been living on Shangchuan Island. At that time, the island was known as Ilha São João. 

Since sea ban was implemented in the Ming dynasty, Lampacao (Nanshui Town now) in Zhuhai was first opened as the temporary port and later Macao for foreign merchants to settle and trade. Therefore, Shangchuan Island did not become a Portuguese colony. The famous missionary, St. Francis Xavier, preached and passed away due to an illness in Shangchuan Island. Devout Catholics can visit his cemetery to commemorate this legendary missionary and feel his devoted spirit of preaching in the Fast East in the chapel. 

If you read the weather forecast of the Hong Kong Observatory regularly, you may recall that the forecast of South China Coastal Waters always covers the weather of “Shangchuan Dao”. In fact, “Shangchuan Dao” refers to the Shadi Fishing Port on Shangchuan Island. You can try to fish there during the day and enjoy the sunset of the port at night. The scenery of sunset in the port is as lovely as that in Victoria Harbour. How chilled! Mount Qipan was the base of the renowned Cantonese pirate Cheung Po Tsai. Legend has it that there is a cave full of treasure on the forested mountain. If you cannot find treasure in Cheung Po Tsai Cave in Hong Kong, why not try your luck on Mount Qipan?

Next to Shangchuan Island, there is Xiachuan Island which is famed for its beautiful beaches. With trees dancing in the wind, it is the best spot for a relaxing vacation. While Shangchuan Island is like a sea lion, Xiachuan Island has the shape of a seagull. What an echo of its neighbouring island! Spending your weekend on the two islands, you will feel relaxed inside out!

Chikan Ancient Town

Another famous place in Kaiping is Chikan Ancient Town which is as well-known as Kaiping Diaolou. Located by the sea, Chikan is renowned for its arcade buildings in colonial Nanyang style and Western architecture. Those on the Dixi Road are the best known.

Why there are so many foreign-style buildings in such a small town? This has to do with overseas Chinese. Overseas Chinese will add the architecture styles of the countries they are residing in. Therefore, it is not a surprise to see many Western structures in a small town. The name of a village is “Canada Village” because the buildings in the village were built by Chinese Canadians. Two big families, namely Situ's and Guan's, are the most famous in Chikan, so many buildings are related to them. For example, the Situ Library and the Guan’s Library built by the two families. The earliest diaolou in Kaiping, the Yinglong Lou and Nan Lou, belong to the Guan and Situ families respectively too.

The beauty of Chikan has made it a famous base for films and television programmes production. There is the Chikan film and Television City to produce various shows. Movies like Let the Bullets Fly, The Grandmasters and The Legend of Drunken Master II were filmed in Chikan. You will find a sense of familiarity as long as you visit Chikan. In the Jinghui Lou next the film city, you can learn about the century-long history of Chikan too!

Guifeng Mountain National Forest Park

How did a piece of barren land become a Grade 4A tourist attraction? You can find the answer here on Guifeng Mountain. It was originally ordinary farmland, however, the rural village was determined to change the “farmland into a garden”. With the will to transform into a tourist spot, the village even attracted Zhou Enlai to visit and observe. In this way, the then barren land now has wineries, tea factories, small bridges over running water and greenery. The locals even established the Xinhui New Labour University, an agriculture university. These efforts have contributed to the success of Guifeng Mountain as one of the first listed national parks in Guangdong. 

At the foot of the mountain, you can find the Xinhui New Labour University, in which Zhou Enlai the former prime minister of China had visited. There is a fascinating Jade Lake next to the campus. Inside the national park, you can visit Yutai Temple, one of the four famous Guangdong temples built in the Eastern Han dynasty, and Zhenshan Pagoda. You can also find the ancient milk spring well in the Ruquan Court. The spring water is milky white with a light scent of milk. How amazing!

Kaiping Li Garden

Can’t choose between Lingnan gardens, Jiangnan water towns, Western buildings and diaolou? Li Garden can fulfil all your wishes at once! Li Garden is a private garden built by Chinese-American Xie Weili. It can be divided into three zones, the villa zone, the grand garden and the small garden. The villa area features a number of Western-style villas and a diaolou with a mix of Chinese and Western styles, including Panli Lou and Letian Lou. Among the mansions, the Yupei Villa is a blend of Chinese, Japanese, Italian and ancient Roman styles. 

To the surprise of many, there is a mountain inside the enormous garden. Opposite the Li Garden Archway, there is the Tiger Mountain which is the best location to overlook the whole garden. However, a pair of tiger whips is made for feng shui reason because it is said that the tiger of the Tiger Mountain is too fierce. The archway and rocks in the grand garden form a Lingnan garden; the small garden characterised by canals, small bridges and pavilions to create a sense of Jiangnan water town. The most attractive bridges in the small garden for tourists are the Kuahong Bridge and Wanxiang Pavilion. One garden, three zones and multiple unique characteristics are the reason why you will fall in love with Li Garden deeply.

Enping Geothermal National Geological Park

Enping’s geothermal resources are nationally well-known. It has the first-ever geothermal energy and hot spring-themed national geopark in China. In the park, you can see unique landforms, such as rocks with openings eroded and granite formations. You can also see how gold was mined in the old days in the former gold mine. You can also enjoy the spectacularly colourful waterfalls and rainbows in the Colourful Canyon area. Yunli Stone Village is located on the mountain. All the architecture, foundations and canals are made of stone by hand, showing exquisite craftsmanship. 

The park is a gem to visitors who love enjoying themselves in hot springs because many hot spring resorts are located here. The most famous hot spring is the Jinshan Hot Spring and Didu Hot Spring. The former has many springs while the latter, the very first hot spring ranked Grade 5A in China, combines hot springs with Chinese gardens. These spots are too good to be missed!