Gongtan Ancient Town, Youyang – Ticket, Opening hours, Location, and Highlights

gongtan ancient town

Gongtan Ancient Town (龚滩古镇), nestled along the banks of the Wujiang River in Youyang County, Chongqing, is a picturesque destination with a history spanning over 1800 years. Its name is derived from the river shoals that gave rise to the town, and its prosperity is closely tied to salt production. Renowned as a comprehensive tourist attraction harmonizing natural landscapes and folk customs, Gongtan Ancient Town is a well-preserved enclave of Ming and Qing dynasty architecture, making it one of China’s significant historical sites.

The town boasts a three-kilometer-long cobblestone street, adorned with over 150 uniquely designed sealed firewalls and surrounded by more than 200 quaint and tranquil quadrangle courtyards. Additionally, the town features over 50 distinctive stilted houses, each showcasing local architectural styles. The collection of riverside stilted houses is aptly called the “musical notes on the precipice,” offering a breathtaking view of the Wujiang River’s picturesque hundred-mile gallery, with towering cliffs and awe-inspiring natural formations across the river.

For those exploring Gongtan, a leisurely stroll through the town takes only a couple of hours. Visitors can then venture into the old street, a hub for a variety of delectable local cuisine. Indulge in specialties such as fragrant mushroom dumplings, stir-fried mountain fern with aged bacon, braised pig trotters with wind-blown radish, cold tofu, and bean curd pudding, all representing the rich culinary heritage of the ancient town. Several inns in the area offer a chance to extend the experience, providing a perfect opportunity for those seeking the unhurried charm of Gongtan to stay a day or two and immerse themselves in the town’s tranquil ambiance.

Table of Contents

Basic Information

Estimated Length of TourHalf a day
Ticket Price20 RMB
Opening Hours8.00 – 17.30
Telephone Number0086-023-75706888

Location and Transportation

Gongtan Ancient Town is situated in the western part of Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County in Chongqing, China. It lies at the convergence point of Youyang County, Pengshui County, and the along-the-river area of Guizhou Province. The town is approximately 70 kilometers away from the county seat of Youyang, 60 kilometers from Pengshui County’s seat, and 70 kilometers (via water route) from the along-the-river area of Guizhou Province.

To reach Gongtan Ancient Town from Chongqing, you have a couple of transportation options:

By Train:

  1. Take a train from Chongqing North Station to Youyang Railway Station.
  2. Upon arrival at Youyang Railway Station, take a local bus or car to Gongtan.
  3. The bus fare is approximately 25 yuan, and the journey takes about 1.5 hours.

By Bus:

  1. Head to Chongqing Caiyuanba Bus Station.
  2. Board a daily bus to Youyang, with a ticket price of around 135 yuan and a travel time of 12 hours.
  3. From Youyang Bus Station, numerous (minivan) buses to Gongtan are available, taking about 2 hours with a fare ranging from 20 to 25 yuan.

Highlights of Gongtan Ancient Town

Stilted Houses

stilted houses in gongtan ancient town

Stilted houses, originating from ancient times, represent a prevalent architectural style in the E’chang, Xiangxi, Yu, and Qian regions of China, particularly among the Tujia ethnic group. These wooden structures, built against hillsides with stone foundations, have a history spanning over four thousand years. The upper floors serve as living quarters, providing ventilation, dryness, and moisture resistance, while the lower floors are used for livestock or storage. The stilted houses along the riverbanks are often referred to as “musical notes on the precipice,” adding a unique touch to Gongtan’s landscape.

Half-Side Warehouse

half-side warehouse in gongtan ancient town

Situated along the old salt route, the Half-Side Warehouse is a distinctive stilted structure suspended 25 meters above the ground. Built into the cliff, it earned its name because one side faces the water, creating a breathtaking sight. Originally a salt warehouse for the Yang family salt merchants, it features large horizontal wooden boards for efficient loading and unloading. The well-planned design includes a spacious entrance, circular paths for easy access, and a pillar-beam structure that is both simple and flood-resistant.

Yongding Chenggui Stele

yongding chenggui stele in gongtan ancient town

Located in the upper left corner of the town’s small square, the Yongding Chenggui Stele dates back to the Guangxu era of the Qing Dynasty. Standing at 155 cm tall and 83 cm wide, the weathered stele outlines regulations for the allocation of labor payments among porters and workers during the transportation of salt from Gongtan, referred to as “guest salt.” It provides insights into the town’s role as a vital transfer point for Sichuan salt entering Guizhou.

Ran Family Courtyard

ran family courtyard in gongtan ancient town

The Ran Family Courtyard, a residence of the local chieftain Ran, stands as one of the town’s main structures. Constructed by Chieftain Ran over a century ago, this residence remains inhabited by the Ran family. Spanning approximately 150 square meters, the courtyard features a typical three-bay layout with a tiled roof, exquisite flower-patterned windows, and wooden construction. Brick firewalls flank its sides, adding to the architectural charm.

West Qin Guildhall

west qin guildhall in gongtan ancient town

Located in the central part of the town, the West Qin Guildhall occupies an area of 1046.87 square meters. Established in the Guangxu era, this guildhall was built by Zhang Pengjiu, a merchant from Shaanxi, who opened a salt business in Gongtan. Serving as a gathering place for fellow townspeople, the guildhall is often referred to as the “Red Temple” due to its architectural resemblance to temples with red-painted walls. It is the largest ancient building in Gongtan, surrounded by firewalls and adorned with traditional decorations.

Chuanzhu Temple

chuanzhu temple in gongtan ancient town

Positioned in the central part of the town and built during the Qing Dynasty, Chuanzhu Temple covers an area of approximately 580 square meters. The temple, with its brick-and-wood structure, follows a courtyard layout and consists of the main hall, side halls, and a stage. It is dedicated to Li Bing, revered as the “Chuanzhu” (controller of the river) due to his expertise in water management, especially for the construction of the Dujiangyan irrigation system.

The First Gate

the first gate in gongtan ancient town

Located at the intersection of Youfang Road, the First Gate is marked by a large stone inscribed with the words “The First Gate,” carved by Li Degu in the Ming Dynasty. This gate, constructed with two layers of stone and equipped with thick wooden doors, was erected by the local government to regulate the salt industry. It imposed restrictions on the movement of people and goods, particularly during the night, with night watchmen reminding residents of fire safety.

Vlog about Gongtan Ancient Town

Useful Tips Summarized from Reviews

Parking Facilities: Gongtan Ancient Town has large parking lots, with both north and south parking areas available. The northern parking area is closer to the market area, while the southern parking area is nearer to the sightseeing cruise dock. Visitors can choose the parking lot based on their preferences and planned activities.

Ticket Information: There is no entrance fee to enter Gongtan Ancient Town. Visiting during the off-peak season, such as November, means fewer tourists and fewer open shops. However, this quieter period may offer better opportunities for photography. Conversely, summer vacations and the Chinese New Year period mark the peak seasons when the town sees more visitors and activities.

Sightseeing Cruise: One of the attractions in Gongtan Ancient Town is the opportunity to take a sightseeing cruise along the Wujiang River, also known as the Wu River, which offers stunning views of the landscape on both sides. The cruise lasts for about 2 hours, and the ticket price is around 150 yuan. Tickets can be purchased on-site, allowing visitors to enjoy the experience without prior booking.

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