The Qiang people are the oldest minority in China, with a long and interesting history. They live in Sichuan province and have their own spoken language. They do not, however, have a written language. If you want to learn about the architecture and lifestyle of the Qiang minority, Taoping Qiang Village is the best place to go. The village is known as “Mysterious Oriental Castle” for its unique architecture and distinct flavor. Naturally, the houses are all made of stone and connect to each other by crisscrossed paths, which gives the village a cryptic feel.
Taoping Qiang Village is 130 kilometers (a two-hour drive) away from Chengdu. So, getting there for a day-trip or an overnighter is not out of the question. Once you get there, you’ll discover there are two sections to the village: an old and a new. The new village was built after the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008 and it is free to wander around. The old village, however, has over 1,000 years of history and requires a 60RMB entrance fee. You don’t begrudge this because you find it worthwhile to see the impressive architecture that survived the earthquake.
Inside the village, there is a quaint guesthouse run by a local Qiang woman that provides excellent and friendly service to travelers.
Erma Guesthouse is a cozy, 5-story accommodation. Each floor has guestrooms with clean bathrooms and comfortable beds. The 4thand 5th floors have the best view of the village and the mountains. Outside, the courtyard is a great place for a cup of tea or coffee and a book. At mealtimes, they serve up specialty Qiang cuisine. Your lodging fee includes dinner and breakfast.
A brief 5-minutes walk from the guesthouse brings you to a place called “Yangjia Yuan,” where you can see an ancient, underground water distribution system inside an old Qiang house. The house owner will take you on a tour for 30RMB. The tour gives you a better understanding of Qiang architecture, history, and lifestyle.
Another short walk from Erma Guesthouse will take you to a viewing platform overlooking the village. From here, the valley and the village are spectacular. So, be sure to check it out.
Taoping Qiang Village and Erma Guesthouse come with our highest recommendation.