It was a long drive from our hotel and by the time I arrived and saw the mass of buses and queue of cars to see the village I was starting to think we’d made a mistake.
Anyway, we bought tickets, at a ridiculous 80RMB to get in (not including access to any of the houses/temples whatever inside, they’re extra) and walked through the entrance gate.
My first impression was that it was a beautiful village but there were just waay too many people there to really appreciate it, including literally hundreds of art students camped out, attempting to sketch the architecture while blocking narrow passages and paths. We turned away from the main tourist trail and headed out to the outskirts of the village where few tourists ventured, now this was more interesting.
Eventually we headed back to the centre of the village which was built around a large pond called “moon pond”, it really was beautiful, but again the tour groups spoiled it for me and this wasn’t even a public holiday, plus we’d missed the peak weekends (when the fields are in flower) by a week or two, I can’t imagine what this place is like on Mayday or one of the other holidays.
In the end, I was glad we went but I much more enjoyed exploring some of the old villages around Yangshuo like Longtang and Liugong, they weren’t on the tour group circuit and felt more “real” than Hongcun, although I’ll concede that Hongcun was more beautiful!
edit: I just found out that this was where they filmed some scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that’s why it’s so popular…
Anyway, here are some pics from the day: