How to get to Houtou Wan Village.
If you would like some background on Gouqi island and the village itself, please enjoy this video. A girl I met on the ferry ride back to Shanghai was kind enough to let me ask her questions about the island. Information was quite scarce on the internet, and since she had the chance to talk we a few locals I was excited to hear some first-hand experience about what is going on, on Gouqi island. Enjoy.
Village: Houtou Wan Village (胡头湾村)
Island: Gouqi Island, a part of the Shengshan Islands
How to get to Gouqi: First thing is first…. get your a$$ to Shanghai. Either by plane, train or automobile. In Shanghai go to the Nanpu Bridge Bus Station (南浦桥 公交站). From there you have two options, a bus+ferry ticket to Shengshan island (where I spend my first night) or a bus+ferry ticket straight to Gouqi island…both of these islands are a part of the Shengsi islands. Also, either option, the bus will take you to a harbor on Shenjiwan island. It is the main harbor for all the surrounding eastern islands, near the Hangzhou bay. The buses from Nanpu Bridge Bus Station run from 7:30am-2pm and a ticket cost about 136rmb. *Disclaimer: bus times can change quite a bit, so if you can have a Chinese speaker call the station or look in up online (I have yet to see an English site for bus schedules anywhere in China) then please do. This is just when it is possible to catch a bus to Shenjiwan island harbor, not actual bus times. I suggest you try to get the first bus out for the day, give yourself some daylight to explore whichever island you head to (Shengshan or Gouqi).
Shengshan Island Option: If you take the bus/ferry to Shengshan island, I suggest giving yourself a day and a half there. It is an adorable little touristy island, that is not over polluted with tourists. It has murals everywhere and I met a Chinese man that was going to spend three days hiking around the island and camping. I am told you can camp anywhere in the mountains for free and from the looks of it I def. want to go back there and do it myself! Also, make sure you try out the local seafood, it’s really good! When I was there, there was tents and little food trucks lining the boardwalk, next to one of the beaches on the far west side of the island. For you non-seafood lovers, they also have chicken and a lot of veggies to grill up. Get. The. Eggplant….it was my favorite haha. Bus + ferry to this island takes about 4 hours. Once you get to the island the taxi drivers are going to be very aggressive and really push to give you the foreigner price…. no ride, anywhere on the island should be more than 70rmb. Luckily, I had my new Chinese friend to help me haggle the drivers down.
When you are ready to leave Shengshan island, you need to get to the Lizhushan Dock (丽珠山码头) and take it to the small Caiyuan Dock (开元码头) on Gouqi island. This ferry should cost you 30rmb, I took the 11:30am one.
Gouqi Island Option: This I wasn’t made aware of until I was leaving Gouqi island and got on a 3hr ferry straight toShenjiwan, then Shenjiwan to Nanpu Bus Station. So all in all, a 5hour trip. There is only one ferry that leaves a day, so it is a little hard to catch. Unfortunately, the only information I am aware of is the ferry from Gouqi to Shanghai, it left at 11am. I do not recall the exact dock that you need to come into, but I remember it was on the west end of the island, and it was not Ciayuan dock. Sorry!
Keep in mind, it is possible to stay on other islands near Gouqi and just do a day trip there to see the village. That was my original plan, however, I got caught in a typhoon and was forced to stay the night. I literally walked around for 30min in the community near Ciayuan dock and found a fairly cheap place.
How to get to Houtou Wan Village: I am not aware of any buses that would take you to the village, so it is better to hail a taxi, depending on where you are prices will vary, but if you are staying in the town near the Ciayuan dock then it should cost you 30rmb max… that is assuming they give you foreigner pricing. Tell the taxi driver you want to go to Houtou Wan Village (头顿湾村), the abandoned village (被遗弃的村庄). When we went, we had to show the driver pictures too. It is not a common touristy area, so don’t get upset if they struggle to understand what you’re talking about. What they should do is drive you to the top of this hill and drop you off on the side of the road, overlooking a temple, like this:
Once you arrive at this spot, you have about a 20min leisure hike into the village. The first point will be hiking through, what looks like a graveyard, then someone’s farm. Your next big checkpoint is seeing another temple. This is a great look out point of the entire village. Look for this next temple:
If you are feeling paranoid you can watch my video, “The Abandoned Village in China” (go to my videos tab) The first half of it shows views of the hike to the second temple and the very, very end of it shows the entire ride from the top of the hill, where the trail head is, all the way into the little fishing community at the bottom of the hill.
Accommodation Options: This can be really tricky, the hostel I booked for Shengshan island canceled on me two hours before my arrival, so my Chinese friend booked a place for me. It was late at night and the hotel name was in Chinese, so I have no idea where I ended up staying or where exactly it was on the island… some help huh?
For Shengshan island there are quite a few listed on Airbnb.com and hostelworld.com. However, in China there are some hotels that will not allow foreigners to stay there, so make sure our reservation is clear in stating that you are a foreigner and the hotel is made aware of that fact. For staying on Gouqi island… I believe your best bet is showing up and asking around. You might have to do some awkward google translation conversations to book a place like I did, however, it isn’t bad. I stayed in the small community that was at the bottom of the hill that leads to Houtou Wan village. The food was awesome, my new friends and I ate on the main street leading up the hill, it was lined with restaurants that had all their tables and chairs on the street. If you want to get a little taste of the culture on the island, I suggest checking them out. This may all seem confusing, however, once you get to the island you will know what I am talking about. It’s really small. The other half of the island (across the bridge) has some beautiful beaches and touristy spots. No idea how to book the hotels beforehand on this island. But it is something you should def. look into if you’re interested.
Helpful TIPS: Wear good shoes, I was in burks… love them and I can walk for hours in them, however, this place is overgrown by mother nature. If you want to really explore it wear some proper shoes, I suggest hiking boots. There are plenty of paths to stick to if you don’t want to get dirty, but if you want to go off the beaten path.. literally…I suggest wearing really good hiking shoes and some pants to protect your legs against thorns. Also, there are so many bugs! SOOO many bugs, bring some bug spray… I was eaten alive.
If you can, stay close to dusk, it is beautiful! Or do an early morning to venture around… mid day will just leave your photos washed out. Also, make your way to the harbor, from there you will see another trail heading back up the mountain, it has some beautiful buildings to check out along the way.
Any other questions or concerns please feel free to drop a comment below and I will get back to you ASAP. Hope you enjoy this place as much as I did!