Heshun Old Town: Treasure that the world passes by
CGTN

The old town of Heshun is so far off the beaten tourist track that it is overlooked by millions of tourists who pour into China each year to swoop on much better-known locales and attractions.

For the very few who do happen to venture to - or stumble over - Heshun, in the far west of southwestern Yunnan Province, this is a place that truly lives up to its name, which means peace and harmony in Chinese.

The old town of Heshun was first built by soldiers of the frontier army about 400 years ago. /VCG Photo

The old town of Heshun was first built by soldiers of the frontier army about 400 years ago. /VCG Photo

Heshun boasts its idyllic scenery, long history, indigenous culture and interesting - and in places quirky - architecture. However, one thing tourists will not find here is the commercial buzz evident in more popular tourist spots.

The town was first built by soldiers of the frontier army about 400 years ago, and it is evident, from their physiognomy and their way of living, that most of its residents are Hanzu, or Han Chinese, in contrast with the ethnic groups that make up much of the population in surrounding areas.

A well-preserved old building at Heshun Old Town. /VCG Photo

A well-preserved old building at Heshun Old Town. /VCG Photo

As Heshun is relatively isolated, it has been able to largely maintain its traditional Chinese culture with characteristics of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). Eleven years ago, it was designated a national-level historical and cultural town and is reputed for the ancient architecture that has been well preserved in many of its old buildings.

Nevertheless, the town's leaders have made an attempt over the past 40 years, in line with the country's economic opening up, to make something of its cultural assets, and it has become a model in Yunnan for its promotion and management of cultural and ecological tourism.

A field surrounded by old architecture at Heshun Old Town in Tengchong City, southwest China's Yunnan Province. /VCG Photo

A field surrounded by old architecture at Heshun Old Town in Tengchong City, southwest China's Yunnan Province. /VCG Photo

The narrow streets and lanes of Heshun are replete with architectural structures, including ornately decorated archways and ancestral halls, temples and former residences of the area's wealthy families.

The old town of Heshun offers its idyllic scenery, long history, and indigenous culture. /VCG Photo

The old town of Heshun offers its idyllic scenery, long history, and indigenous culture. /VCG Photo

When you slowly walk around in the town, through the alleys and the streets paved with slab stones, you are likely to see the locals like Li people, sitting relaxed in front of their houses or shops, or gathering at the entrances to alleys, seemingly assured that the pace of life will never be disturbed by the visitors.

(Cover: The gate of Heshun Old Town in Tengchong City, southwest China's Yunnan Province. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): China Daily