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Attractions in JianshuiOverview


Jianshui lies 80km south of Tonghai through some seriously eroded countryside full of short limestone fingers poking out of the soil – a stone forest beginning to sprout. An administrative center for over a thousand years, the town is full of historic old buildings, mostly serving as schools and offices; the grandest are being restored and opened up to the public. The combination of architecture, the town’s provincial, kitsch charm and a friendly populace makes Jianshui a fascinating stopover. Get here sooner rather than later, though, as it’s all being tarted up for tourists.

  • Swallows cave

    In the karst formations along the forested Lu River Valley are Swallows Cave, 30km east of Jianshui on the road to Kaiyuan or Gejiu. Stone tools, animal bones and freshwater mussel middens reveal the caves’ use in Neolithic times, but for the last few centuries people have come to see the tens of thousands of swiftlets who nest here – the noise of wheeling birds is defending during the early summer. Swallows Cave has become an enjoyable Chinese-style tourist attraction, featuring wooden walkways and underground restaurants selling bird’s-nest cakes – swiftlet nests, constructed out of hardened bird spit, are an expensive delicacy for the Chinese.

  • Family Zhu's Garden

    Follow Jianzhong Lu, the main road, for 200m from the gate, then turn north up Jianxin Jie, and you will arrive shortly at the grand Family Zhu's Garden. It is a Chinese box of inter-locking halls and courtyards in good condition and brightly painted.
  • Chaoyang Lou

    First impressions of a parochial Chinese town are dispelled as the huge red Chaoyang Lou, the former eastern gate tower in the city’s Ming-dynasty walls, looms into view. Chaoyang Lou is locked and the surrounding grounds swarm with loungers, but there is a great teahouse at the top, done up in traditional style, where local musicians practice in the evening – a rare opportunity to observe folk traditions.

  • Swallows cave
  • Family Zhu's Garden
  • Chaoyang Lou
 

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