Situated on the Li River in Guangxi province and surrounded by stunning natural scenery, is the wonderful Daxu Ancient Town. This ancient town has a history that spans over 2,000 years. This off-the-beaten path destination offers incredibly well preserved centuries-old architecture and cobblestone streets. It is a wonderful glimpse into traditional Chinese town, with many must-see sites. Daxu Ancient Town is an enchanting attraction that cannot be missed.
- Daxu Ancient Town is located 18 km southeast of Guilin, in Guangxi province.
- Despite the construction of nearby infrastructure like highways and rail systems, the ancient town has maintained its historical preservation.
- In ancient times, Daxu was considered one of the four major harbors located on the Li River.
- During the Ming dynasty, 13 docks were constructed to accommodate the prosperous commercial trade in the town. Today, five of the docks still remain, and are a major attraction.
History Of Daxu Ancient Town
Daxu Ancient Town was originally constructed sometime during the 3rd-century BCE. During the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BCE), founder of the Qin dynasty and the first ruler of a unified China, Daxu was regarded as an important trading hub because of its location on the Li River. The construction of canal systems during this period, provided extremely advantageous for the town.
By the early part of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127 AD), Daxu had evolved into thriving business centre. In fact, its marketplace had become quite renowned in southern China. During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties (1636-1911), the town enjoyed robust developments, becoming an epicenter for trade and commerce in the region. Merchants from throughout China flocked to the town during this period, subsequently establishing famous guilds such as the Hunan Guild Hall, Cantonese Guild Hall, and Hiangxi Guild Hall, amongst others.
Many of the structures built during the Ming and Qing dynasties are perfectly preserved today. Some of the centuries old historical buildings situated throughout Daxu include the Hanhuang Temple and the Gaozu Temple, and the phenomenal private dwellings.
By the early part of the 20th century, businessmen gravitated to Daxu, thus making it a hub of trade in modern times. Eight important avenues were constructed forming a trading and business hub, and the marketplace was a bustling hive of activity. On any given day, over 10,000 people would frequent the market in Daxu.
In 2001, clusters of seven ancient tombs were accidently unearthed in Daxu. Said tombs resembled the shape of “The Big Dipper”, and appeared to have some sort of astrological significance. Numerous artifacts were excavated in and surrounding the tomb complex, including bronze weaponry such as swords and axes, and clay pottery. Based on research to date, archeologists believe the tombs were constructed as early as the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BCE) to the Western Han dynasty (202 BCE BCE-9AD).
Culture Of Daxu Ancient Town
One of the main cultural components in Daxu Ancient Town is the incredibly preserved traditional residences, streets, and alleys. This place survives from another time completely, with ornately decorated wooden buildings, bridges, and the ancient docks. One of the main attractions in the town is Wanshou Bridge (also called Longevity Bridge) situated where the Li River converges with the Mahe River. This beautiful stone bridge was first constructed during the Ming dynasty, then was rebuilt during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor (1871-1908) of the Qing dynasty. It offers spectacular views of the town, and has been deemed a cultural relic protected by the county.
The ancient Daxu docks (or wharfs) are also a popular highlight in the town. These relics are from the town’s prosperous trade period during the Ming dynasty. Of the thirteen that were constructed, some are actually still remain in use.
The mosque in Daxu is another interesting attraction. Built in 1775 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty, Muslim residents raised or donated the funds need for its construction. Over the subsequent centuries, the mosque was repaired several times, and in 1904 during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor, the structure was completely rebuilt. Prior to it being reconstructed, the original mosque covered a total area of over 2.5 acres. Now, the wooden mosque is situated on approximately 600 square meters
During the Ming dynasty, Daxu Ancient Town’s market was regarded as one of the most important in the region. Although smaller now, the marketplace is still a thriving, bustling place. Numerous stalls sell all manner of goods from traditional handicrafts to delicacies like locally grown fruits, dumplings, and quail eggs.
- Daxu Ancient Town is easily accessible from downtown Guilin by bus. The ride takes roughly 40 minutes.
- Year-round is the best time to visit the town. The surrounding region has a subtropical climate enjoying mild winters and humid summers.
- For the best accommodation in the area, choose lodgings in Guilin.
- On occasion, the Li River overflows its banks flooding lower levels of Daxu Ancient Town. Visitors are advised against traveling to the town during, or immediately after a flood.