Changliu: a great weekend eco-getaway in Guangdong

Updated: 07 Feb 2012
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Village children lead visitors on hikes through the rolling hills to see the forest, waterfalls and caves in the area.


Mrs. Yi -- who is 64 -- shows off her freshly harvested choi sum.


Changliu’s Wu Wei architecture features a gate at the entrance of the village with eyes painted over the doorway for good fortune.


A villager makes a bamboo basket that will hold a live chicken to be given as a gift at a village housewarming party.


Not far from the economic powerhouse that is the Pearl River Delta, it’s hard to believe that there’s a bastion of traditional culture still around in Guangdong province.

Life in the Hakka village of Changliu brings back memories of simpler, albeit poorer, times in China. Family members live near each other, harvests are shared and traditional and religious customs live on.


I recently visited Changliu village to take a look at an eco-tourism project jointly funded and run by social workers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-Sen University.

The project was conceived to help supplement the incomes for farmers in this poor village and to educate city slickers about the more traditional agrarian life as well as traditional culture that has long been forgotten in the metropolises of Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Changliu is unlike any other place I’ve visited in Guangdong province.

For one, it’s got blue skies, clean water and forests which is a far cry from the factory and dormitory landscape that dominates southern Guangdong.

A 90-minute bus trip northeast of Guangzhou took us over a tall mountain and down, seemingly, into another time and another world that most modern urban Chinese would not recognize today.


Villagers cycle to the nearest town to do some shopping.


Much of the rice, vegetables and meat served at meals is grown in Changliu village.


In Hakka villages, a pond is dug for good feng shui.


A villager walks outside his Wu Wei-style long house. Homes in Changliu are rectangular and subdivided into multi-family homes while other Wu Wei-style homes can be circular, such as Fujian’s distinctly round tulou homes.


Villagers arrive at a housewarming party bearing gifts of vegetables, rice and live chickens they raised themselves. Everyone in the village -- some 400 people -- is invited and served three meals that day.


A feast of locally caught river fish, stir-fried vegetables, steamed free-range chicken and braised pork is presented to the hundreds of guests at the house warming party.


The most striking part of the village is the architecture. The Hakka "Wu Wei" building design of long row houses behind a gate and doorway is seen throughout the villages in the area. Simple family temples with the two predominant surnames of the village, Yang and Yi, mark the center of the village.

This is very much a working village and nothing that you see is staged for visitors.

During your stay, you'll see chickens and ducks wandering around the village, groups of mothers making bamboo wicker baskets and in the early morning heading into their vegetable patches to harvest lunch and dinner.

Visitors are housed in a converted Wu Wei longhouse in rooms equipped with fans and mosquito nets. It's simple, but clean and comfortable.

Unlike the rest of southern Guangdong, these villagers are not subject to the hot and humid conditions of the summer. Air conditioning is not missed here.

In fact, villagers sleep with their windows open in the summer and with blankets year-round. This would be unthinkable in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

How to get there: From Guangzhou City bus station take the bus to the suburb of Conghua.

From Conghua station, take the bus that heads to Changliu village. The whole trip from Guangzhou should take slightly less than three hours.



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Comments Area ( Total Comments: 11 )
Byronwed Commented on 31 May 2017
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Kevinosbern Commented on 30 Jul 2015
That sounds like a great trip to me. Even though I don’t like these types of trips that much, it is interesting to do such trips once in a while. The main attraction about such trips is that it gives us more idea about the life in country side.
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marlenechip Commented on 17 Jul 2015
These people have a decent way of living, they don't need too much to be happy and they only know to work the land and to reap the harvest. Meanwhile, those people who live in the city want every year a house renovation, want expensive stuff and amazing sensations and experiences. For instance, many people have opted for the kitchen remodeling NYC services more than once because every year they want to change something in their home.
marlenechip Commented on 17 Jul 2015
These people work hard to obtain a good harvest every year. People who live in the city need only a quality mower to mow the lawn, they don't have to work the land to obtain vegetables and fruits. A quality mower can be found at even though it is pre-owned and the food is definitely bought from supermarkets or farms.
gorila Commented on 21 Jun 2015
Indeed, you don't see to many home improvements in a rural area. The houses are build simple, they must be efficient, not too complex like those from the urban area are. For example, these houses need quality air conditioning and heating systems, like the ones sold at, because the homeowners spend more time in houses and they need an ambient atmosphere.
gorila Commented on 21 Jun 2015
A homeowner from an urban area has more living conditions compared with one who lives in a rural area. The first one may have the best heating and air conditioning systems, bought for instance, from, the best interior design and the latest technology. But the second one, even though he is poor and has to work all day the ground, is happier than the first homeowner.
gorila Commented on 21 Jun 2015
A village is not so developed like a city is, but this doesn't mean that these people don't have a decent living. They have a hospital, schools, stores and so on. Of course, the stores can be improved, buying new shelves, baskets from, the schools can be renovated, but this can be a slow process.
gorila Commented on 21 Jun 2015
In rural areas people have to work intensely to obtain something, for instance, to make a basket from twigs, to make cheese from milk and so on. Instead, in the city, there are those big producers which supply the population with everything they need. Their manufacturing equipment must be in excellent conditions, therefore, having in the building some spare parts and components used in semiconductor and industrial manufacturing, like these ones from is mandatory.
marlenechip Commented on 07 Jun 2015
Someone can discover the world if he travels low cost, including this isolated area. For example, these days, there are a few affordable vacation packages online. Someone can travel alone or with his family because for each category, the discounts are attractive.
marlenechip Commented on 02 Jun 2015
Anyone who owns a house on the ground should find some time to arrange a wonderful, yet small garden in front of the house or even in the backyard. Further, at this project he should collaborate with a professional home renovation contractor, like the one at to create something unique.
jerryrice Commented on 23 Apr 2015
It is very difficult to develop a village, but the farmers who sell their merchandise on different markets contribute a lot in this process. But, in order to have a great production, they must use only the best agricultural machines and equipment, like the one sold at Any investment that a farmer does in these machines will definitely bring higher profits.