As compared to other ancient towns in China, Zhenyuan is not that popular. However, it’s the most famous ancient town in Guizhou province. Its strategic location made it as the battlefield in history. Due to the mountains, the river was used to ship goods in ancient time. And Zhenyuan was an important port in Southwest China during ancient time. Nowadays, the river is not important anymore. It can be accessed easily with train and road transport now.
Zhenyuan is next to the mountain with Wuyang River crossing the town. Along the river are the old buildings and the most famous spots are Black Dragon Caves, Zhusheng Bridge, and Temple of Queen of Heaven. At night, the ancient town is lit up in garish colours until midnight. Therefore, the photo session has to be done before 12am. Also, the colour of the light nearby the New Bridge and Zhusheng Bridge is changing every 5 seconds. The shutter speed has to be set properly in order to capture different colour of the light.
The scenery in Zhenyuan Ancient Town is not bad as compared with Phoenix Ancient Town that is not far away. Both places also have mountains, river, and ancient buildings. Although many people say that Phoenix Ancient Town is better, but I think Zhenyuan is much better. It doesn’t commercialized like Phoenix Ancient Town. Moreover, tourists need to pay admission fee to get into Phoenix, but Zhenyuan doesn’t require to pay anything to enter the town. I would say, an ancient town should look like Zhenyuan – a quiet and peaceful town but quaint and charming enough for tourists to wander around.
There are two more places can be visited at Zhenyuan. The first one is to hike Shiping Hill to see the landscape of Zhenyuan, and the other one is the Great Wall. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to visit to these places. I would recommend to reserve 2 days for visiting Zhenyuan. One day is definitely not enough.
Nearby Zhenyuan, there are another two scenery spots to go. One is to go to Wuyang River to take a boat ride for the scenery view that is similar to Yangtze River. The other one is to go to Tie River to see the crystal clear river.
Take train to Zhenyuan, the train station is just 3km away from the old town area. From the train station, take local bus to the old town, last stop of the bus is Zhusheng Bridge within the old town, CNY2 one-way.
Kaili and Taijiang have buses to Zhenyuan, but the bus route is taking the hilly mountain road and will pass by several Miao villages, including Shidong, before reaching to Zhenyuan. From Kaili to Taijiang takes 1 hour, Taijiang to Shidong takes 1.5 hours, Shidong to Zhenyuan about 1 hour.
The old town has local bus. Get on the local bus when you are tiring of walk in the old town, CNY2 one-way.
There are designated places to park cars in the old town. There’s a free parking lot but no guards and a paid parking lot with guards.