Yongding District, Longyan
The Yongding District of Longyan (永定县; Yǒngdìngxiàn) is in the south of Fujian Province in China. It is just to the southeast of Longyan, near the border with Guangdong Province. Most visitors come here to see the Hakka tulou or roundhouses.
The countryside is extremely beautiful, and punctuated by around 3,000 tulou, a Hakka structure where a number of residences are built inside a single fortified compound. Most of these tulou are still in use, however the area has suffered an extreme population drain as the able-bodied have generally moved to Eastern Coastal cities as migrant workers, leaving behind a population of the very old and the very young. The villages also contain modern housing, and older houses that are not tulou.
The people in the area are friendly, tourist infrastructure is minimal, and there are no large tour buses - which makes for a very pleasant contrast with other touristed rural areas in China. However, do not expect any English to be spoken, anywhere.
The easiest and most convenient way to get to the tulou is from Xiamen by direct bus. Other options include a bus through Longyan or the train through Yongding or Longyan. Be sure to check the bus and train timetables before departure. Xiamen also has multiple bus stations, so pay close attention to the station name.
Another options at a reasonable price (starting from 200rmb) is to join a Chinese tourist group from Xiamen, bigger Xiamen hotels can arrange the booking. Be aware that these tours feature at least one stop for shopping tea or coffee and only visit one tulou cluster. However it's an interesting way to experience Chinese tourism culture.
The best way to see the different tulou is by private taxi or motorbike. Your guesthouse can help organise this for you, or else just walk around and some local will come up offering their service. Prices range from ¥100 to ¥120 for a half day tour. Be sure to negotiate a price before the tour.Most tours allow you to choose 4 or 5 tulous to visit and a car with driver, who also acts as impromptu guide is 200Y,(2011 pricing) (motorbikes with rider is 120Y and would therefore be expensive besides being uncomfortable if there are two or more of you. You are not allowed to rent or ride a bike)and while you will not be hurried, starting the tour at 7am will mean you will be back at your lodging well before lunch time. There's no tour that operate by half day or full day. Just select one from the menu and you are on your way.
As anywhere in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca, the language of education and government. The ethnic group that build tulou have their own language, Hakka. The main local language of the surrounding region is Minnan.
There are four main clusters of tulous with many others scattered in between and around the main attractions.
Souvenirs are available throughout the area and include mini tulous, snow globes, keychains, and magnets. The region is also famous for its tea. Most tulous have stores and vendors inside, but be sure to haggle as prices for tourists are expectedly high.
Each site has local restaurants so you will not go hungry.
Most of the more touristed earth houses offer simple lodgings, which generally will not provide the most basic conveniences and should cost around ¥30. Rooms are simple, and bathrooms are frequently located outside of the tulou. Many tulous also close around 8PM every evening.
Hukeng village has several lodgings that are a step up from this, speak basic English, and offer Western food and coffee, try:
There are in fact plenty of sleep options. Almost every other restaurant shophouse has rooms upstairs for Y60toY80 (2011 pricing). As you alight from your bus or taxi, depending on which section of the road you will be approached, by the owners of these establishments, who would be more than pleased to allow you to view rooms before taking. Generally, the rooms are very clean, well-kept, with ensuite bathroom, western W.C., TV, Aircon. No toilet or towels however. Ask and they will supply you the towels. Sheets and blankets are already spread out and are very clean.
If leaving the area from a village, the bus stations are very informal. Check with locals to make sure you're waiting at the right spot or just flag down the bus as it passes by.
There are regularly scheduled buses from Liulian (or Tulou Station) (see "Get In" section). Direct buses for Xiamen leave at 7:30AM, 12:30PM, and 3:00PM. From WuKang Village to Xiamen the bus ticket costs 55 RMB (2011 prices). Be sure to confirm which bus station in Xiamen is the terminus but this is not crucial, the bus driver will be yelling out the names of the stations for passengers to disembark when approaching them in Xiamen.
Hourly buses from Liulian to Longyan are also available from 6:20AM to 4:35PM. There are also buses to Yongding, and two to Zhangzhou (漳州).