For the first time in three weeks, I found myself engrossed in tranquility. Birds were chirping, tiny pieces of blue sky pried through the infinite smog and the landscape actually appeared to be breathing. There was no hustle. There was no overflow of tourists. Just my study abroad group and the watchtowers in southern China’s Guangdong Province, specifically the Kaiping Diaolou village.
These impressive watchtowers (below, not the little minis above) are scattered throughout the rice fields in the city of Kaiping. From the 1300s, the Chinese used these towers to protect themselves from bandits and floods. By the 1930s, there were almost 3,000 towers built throughout the province.
We visited the Li Garden, which is home to the more luxurious watchtowers, gardens and waterways.
This UNESCO World Heritage site makes for a unique and peaceful afternoon “off the beaten path” and away from the busy city of Guangdong.
Scattered throughout the towers in the Li Garden, we found marshy ponds, lush green fields, harmless snakes and turtles and colossal sunflowers.
I recommend climbing to the top of the towers for a stunning panoramic view of the area.
Wandering through the garden took hours, and although hot, it was void of tourists–a rarity to find when traveling in China. There are several other watchtower locations around the province and I definitely would have been keen on seeing more–if the group’s itinerary would have been up to me.
I have no idea how we arrived here since we were bused everywhere with a tour guide, but according to this CNN article, this may be your best route if you are interested in adding the watchtowers to your China itinerary:
“Fly to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, take a taxi to Tianhe Coach Terminal Station, which should cost about RMB120 ($20); buses depart from Tianhe Coach Terminal Station to Kaiping from 7:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.; tickets cost RMB38 ($6).”
Have you been here before? Would you add Kaiping to your itinerary if you were heading to China?