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You don’t have to go to the gussied-up tourist sites to get a sense of Chinese rustic romanticism.
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About 60 kilometers to the west of Ningbo, due south of Yuyao town and deep in the Siming Mountains, is the Dan Shan Chi Shui scenic area. Dan Shan Chi Shui 丹山赤水 translates to “red mountains and crimson waters.” The villages in this region date back more than five centuries and have accumulated a reputation over the years as an ideal country retreat for stressed urbanites.
It wasn’t easy for me to get all the way here from my then home in Ningbo. I was committed to visiting the scenic area as a day trip, which can be challenging without a car. I took the bullet train from Ningbo to Yuyao and then rode the bus south to the Siming Mountains.
The village I eventually reached was truly picturesque, one of the still-inhabited Qing-era villages dotting the hillsides of this region, complete with humble temples and rustic restaurants. There’s also a Qing dynasty bridge and Swedish style wooden lodges in the vicinity of this village that you can stay the night in.
Even the bus ride from Yuyao to the Siming Mountains was incredibly gorgeous, past the surprisingly beautiful Siminghu Reservoir and up into the highlands overlooking rolling green mountains. With a car, you could spend the entire day on this road through the hills, stopping along the way for picnics or day hikes.
How to get here: The quickest route is probably to take the fast train from one of the nearby major cities (Ningbo, Shaoxing or Hangzhou) and then take bus route 513 to 蜻蜓岗 and then switch to the 629 bus route to 柿林 village.