What is Tulou?

Tulou is one kind of unique communal homes of the Hakka people that mainly live in the rolling mountainous regions of Fujian and Guangdong in China. Its history can date back to as early as the 11th century, which is more than 1,000 years ago. "Tu" refers to Earth and "lou" refers to building in English. Tulou is literally known as Earthen Building. Earth is the main material to build the body of these houses, hence the name. Tulou is usually in giant size and 3~5 storeys high, surrounded by a rectangular, circular or other shaped mud wall with a shared courtyard in its center. Each of them can house 150 up to 800 people. Their size is so big and shape is so strange that in 1986, during the Cold War period, when the American officials first saw Tulou while they were poring over satellite images, they once believed that these strange and huge constructions were missile silos!

Tulou was certainly not designed for such horrible use. On the contrary, Tulou was built to defense rather than initiate war. It is said that the ancient natives there used to be attacked by animals and bandits. In the purpose of gathering their strengths together to protect themselves, they created such unique castles. No any window was designed outside the mud wall of the first and second storeys, and there normally was only one gate allowing them to go out and in. Besides, there was at least one well inside the building to guarantee their daily life. Therefore, no blind spots could be found in any conflict, and Tulou would safeguard the inhabitants very well.

Nowadays, there is no further need to fend off wild animals and bandits. However, the Hakka locals have no plan to leave their Tulou. They still live there, just like their ancestors did before. The only difference is the constant influx of tourists from all over the world. Thanks to the American officials, their ridiculous but beautiful mistake made world-wide people know these mysterious buildings. And Tulou’s amazing shape and size, dramatic defense function, the great spirit of solidarity and the perfect harmony of Tulou and its surrounding have attracted more and more tourists come to visit, especially after 2008, the year that UNESCO listed Fujian Tulou as a member of World Cultural Heritage Sites!

Top Recommended Nanjing Tulou Tour:

5 Days Cultural Tour to Xiamen & Fujian Tulou

2 Days Best Nanjing Tulou Tour with Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster

Why Visit Nanjing Tulou, Fujian, China?

There are many Tulou clusters dotted amidst the mountains hidden in Fujian Province and Guangdong Province in China, while the Fujian’s Tulou buildings are the most widespread, the most abundant, the most diversified and the best preserved. It is also Fujian Tulou that has been inscribed as a cluster of World Cultural Heritage Sites since 2008.

The Tulou clusters in Fujian are divided into several parts, including Yongding Tulou Cluster, Nanjing Tulou Cluster, Hua’an Tulou Clusters, etc. Tourists like Nanjing Tulou (南靖土楼) most, the reasons are as follows:

  • The Kingdom of Tulou - Nanjing Tulou enjoys a reputation of "The Kingdom of Tulou". It has about 15,000 Tulou in total. There, tourists will find the highest Tulou - Hegui Building, the biggest Tulou - Yuchang Building, the littlest Tulou - Cuilin Building, the best-preserved Tulou - Huaiyuan Building, the strangest Tulou - Tianluokeng Tulou cluster, etc.
  • The Most Concentrated - Unlike in other Fujian Tulou regions, Tulou clusters in Nanjing are relatively concentrated. It normally takes less than half an hour by car to transfer from one Tulou cluster to another. Therefore, visitors can save a lot of time and energy.
  • "Four Dishes and One Soup", the most Impressive Tulou Cluster, is Here - Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, which is also called "Four Dishes and One Soup" by its visitors, is one of the best highlights of Nanjing Tulou. It is one of the big reasons attracting visitors heading to this region.
  • A Closer Distance from/to Xiamen - Compared with other Tulou clusters in Fujian, Nanjing Tulou clusters enjoy the closest driving distance from/to Xiamen, one of the most popular gateway to visit Tulou.
  • It has the Best Accommodation Options - Due to its popularity, Nanjing Tulou has many of the best hotels in this region. Almost all of them are open in Tulou style, giving you a chance to have an in-depth experience of Tulou.
Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster in the Day and Night Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster in the Day and Night

Top 5 Nanjing Tulou Highlights

Nanjing Tulou refers to a series of Tulou in Nanjing County, Zhangzhou City, Fujian, China. There are as many as 15,000 Tulou in Nanjing. And its most popular ones include Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, Huaiyuan Building, Yuchang Building, Yunshuiyao Tulou Cluster, Hekeng Tulou Cluster, etc.

Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster - The Most Popular and Most Classic Tulou

  1. ● Ticket Price: CNY 90/person (It shares the ticket with Yuchang Building and Taxia Village)
  2. ● Recommended Visiting Time: 1 h ~ half day

Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster (田螺坑土楼) is the most popular site of Nanjing Tulou and even the whole Fujian Tulou clusters. It consists of altogether 5 huge earthen buildings - a rectangular Tulou (Buyun Building) and its surrounding four circle ones (Zhenchang Building, Ruiyun Building, Hechang Building and Wenchang Building). When overlooking Tianluokeng Tulou from its Upper Observation Deck, you will find that the locations and shapes of these 5 Tulou buildings are magically similar to four round dishes of food plus one square bowl of soup in the middle on a Chinese dining table. Therefore, Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster is also nicknamed "Four Dishes and One Soup".

Tianluokeng Earthen Buildings follow the principles of Chinese Feng Shui, a complex and tradition rule that will harmonize individuals and architectures with their surrounding environment. It is hard to understand the Feng Shui basics of Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster. However, its magical appearance is enough to surprise you. There are two observation decks offered there, including one from its upper side and one from its lower side. You are also allowed to step inside each of the earthen buildings for further exploration.

Another big highlight of Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster is its stunning night view decorated with soft light. It is the only one of Fujian Tulou that allows visitors to capture its appearance at night.

Our Customers at Nanjing Tulou (Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster) Our Customers at Nanjing Tulou
(Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster)

All the 5 Tulou Heritages in Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster:

Buyun Building (步云楼) Zhenchang Building (振昌楼) Ruiyun Building (瑞云楼) Hechang Building (和昌楼)
Wenchang Building (文昌楼)

Yuchang Building - The Biggest Tulou

  1. ● Ticket Price: CNY 90/person (It shares the ticket with Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster and Taxia Village)
  2. ● Recommended Visiting Time: 1 hour or so

Yuchang Building (裕昌楼), built in 1308, is the biggest earthen building of Fujian Tulou. It has 5 storeys and 270 houses in total. Yuchang Building is mainly featured with its tilted pillars, some of which even lean a sharp 15-degree angle. When standing in the middle of the Yuchang Building, you may get a strong feeling that it is about to collapse at once. However, the truth is that it has been already standing still in such unbelievable shape for more than 700 years.

Yuchang Building is only 4 kilometers and 10 minutes or so from Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster by car. Visitors usually visit these two sites in one tour!

Yuchang Building Yuchang Building

Taxia Village - A Hot Place for Accommodation with 40+ Tulou and an Ancestral Hall to Visit

  1. ● Ticket Price: CNY 90/person (It shares the ticket with Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster and Yuchang Building)
  2. ● Recommended Visiting Time: 1 hour or so

Taxia Village (塔下村) is a small Hakka village built on the two banks of a tranquil stream, with a driving distance for about 7 kilometers north of the most popular Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster. All the villagers there are surnamed Zhang. It is said that the Zhang ancestors went board for work in the early years and traveled back to the village after gained a lot of money. And then they built road and bridges in the village, creating great foundation to open hotels to welcome visitors. Till now, there are more than 1,500 hotels, hostels and inns opened there.

This village also has more than 40 Tulou buildings. The history of the earthen buildings there can date back to the time from decades to hundreds years ago. And they come in a number of styles, from the typical round and square to courtyard-style. The most famous earthen buildings at Taxia Village are Shunchang Building (顺昌楼) and Yude Building (裕德楼).

At the back of the village is the Zhang Family’s Ancestral Hall (or called Deyuan Hall 德远堂), which has a long history of more than 400 years. In front of the hall is a half-moon shaped pond, flanked by 24 special stone flagpoles that rising up to 10 meters to the air. Each flagpole represents an outstanding villager in history, with his name, identity and achievement inscribed on it.

Taxia Village also has a Nanjing Firefly Dream Valley located in its south part. On the summer nights in June, July and August, countless fireflies will dance their way there, which is extremely amazing and romantic.

Taxia Village Taxia Village
Deyuan Hall Deyuan Hall

Yunshuiyao Scenic Area - A Romantic Old Town

  1. ● Ticket Price: CNY 90/person, including Hegui Building and Huaiyuan Building
  2. ● Recommended Visiting Time: 1 day or so

Yunshuiyao (云水谣), which means a song for cloud and water in Chinese, used to be called Changjiao. It gets its current name Yunshuiyao because of a romantic movie of the same name, which was filmed there in 2005. This relatively large scenic area is an ancient town that composed of 53 well-preserved Tulou and the surrounding peaceful stream, terraced fields and old banyan trees, etc. The super stars of Yunshuiyao Old Town are Hegui Building and Huaiyuan Building. These two precious earthen buildings have been added into the World Heritage Site list in 2008, together with other 44 Fujian Tulou buildings.

Huaiyuan Building

Huaiyuan Building (怀远楼) is the kind of unique round earthen building that has two rings instead of one ring in total, with one ring built inside another. The outer ring in four storeys high is the main living area for sleeping, cooking and storing, while the inner one built in the center of the courtyard is a school, namely Sishisi (斯是室). The school is also the vital place for important activities like ancestors worship. Huaiyuan Building is the only Tulou that has a school built inside, which is one of the great reasons that make it standout from more than 15,000 earthen buildings of this region. Besides, the school is also a strong evidence of its owners’ cultivation and social status. Even in such a remote area that far from any mainstream civilization, the Hakka ancestors living at Huaiyuan Building never gave up the instruction of their children. Just as the name Huaiyuan implied, the ancestors expected their children to work hard with great ambitions.

Huaiyuan Building is also famed for its exquisite workmanship and decorations. The building is well-equipped with four outlooks, three irrigation channels, fire-proof mechanisms and shooting ports, etc. In addition to these defense measures, Huaiyuan Building is also decorated with delicate and elaborate paintings and wooden sculptures. On and between pillars and beams inside the school lie various dazzling carvings, like auspicious clouds, vividly dragon and lions and so on. Every piece and every corner of Huaiyuan Building have been well-preserved, allowing the visitors to have a glimpse of its ancient life there.

Hegui Building

Hegui Building (和贵楼) is praised as "The Oddest Tulou in the World" and "The Noah's Ark on the Swampland", because it is constructed on the marshland. Tough more than 200 years has past, it still stands steadily. However, if you make jumps there, you will feel the earth shaking under your feet. Hegui Building is also the tallest square Tulou listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is in 5-storey high, which is really incredible when take the swampland into account.

Yunshuiyao Village
Huaiyuan Building Huaiyuan Building
Hegui Building Hegui Building

All the 2 Tulou Heritages in Yunshuiyao Scenic Area:

Hegui Building (和贵楼) Huaiyuan Building (怀远楼)

Hekeng Tulou Cluster - The Most Primitive Tulou in Nanjing

  1. ● Ticket Price: CNY 40/person
  2. ● Recommended Visiting Time: half day or so

Hekeng Tulou Cluster (河坑土楼) is seldom crowded with tourists. Only the big fans of Tulou who are looking an in-depth visit of Fujian Tulou will go there. However, it never means Hekeng Tulou is not attractive at all, instead, as many as 13 of its 14 earthen buildings has been listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Tulou in Hekeng are scattered in the narrow strip of small rivers at the bottom of a valley. When seen from afar the top of the nearby Lion Rock, the 14 Tulou there are just like two big dipper constellations, hence the nickname "Big Dipper". Thanks to its less touristy, Hekeng well keep its primitive look. No stall can be found inside any of these Tulou in Hekeng. The Hakka locals farm their terraced fields almost every day. Their animals, such as ducks, chicken, cats and dogs, loiter here and there.

Hekeng Tulou Cluster Hekeng Tulou Cluster

All the 13 Tulou Heritages in Hekeng Tulou Cluster:

Chungui Building (春贵楼) Yuxing Building (裕兴楼) Yuchang Building (裕昌楼) Chaoshui Building (炒水楼)
Yangzhao Building (阳照楼) Yonggui Building (永贵楼) Yongqing Building (永庆楼) Xiaochun Building (晓春楼)
Yongsheng Building (永盛楼) Yongrong Building (永荣楼) Donsgheng Building (东升楼) Nanxun Building (南熏楼)
Shengqing Building (绳庆楼)

Recommended Nanjing Tulou Visiting Route

Route A: Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster - Yuchang Building - Taxia Village

Time needed: about 3 hours (one day is needed if you get from Xiamen)

Route B: Yunshuiyao Tulou Cluster - Hegui Building - Huaiyuan Building

Time needed: about 2.5 hours (one day is needed if you get from Xiamen)

Route C: Hekeng Tulou Cluster

Time needed: about 2 hours (about one day is needed if you get from Xiamen)

Nanjing Tulou Map Nanjing Tulou Map

Nanjing Tulou Location & Transportation - How to Get to/around Nanjing Tulou

How to Get to Nanjing Tulou

Nanjing Tulou is located in Nanjing County, Zhangzhou City, Fujian, China. It now has no airport. Usually, tourists visit it from Xiamen by car or get to its Nanjing Railway Station by high speed train first and then change to the local bus to get there.

Xiamen to Nanjing Tulou by car

Driving from Xiamen to Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster in Nanjing takes about 2.5~3 hours.

High Speed Train to Nanjing Tulou

The closest train stations to Nanjing Tulou are Nanjing Railway Station and Longshanzhen Railway Station. The former one is more popular chosen. Nanjing Railway Station has high speed trains to/from Xiamen (0.5~1 h), Fuzhou (2.5~3.5 hrs), Wuyishan (3~4 hrs), Xiapu (3.5 hrs), Shanghai (8.5~9.5 hrs), Hangzhou (6.5~7.5 hrs), Shenzhen (4 hrs), etc.

Check more about How to Get to Fujian Tulou | Xiamen to Nanjing Tulou

How to Travel around Nanjing Tulou

Though Nanjing Tulou is the most concentrated Tulou cluster in Fujian, it still requires at least half an hour to make transfers between its major tourist sites. And there is no official sightseeing buses offered there. The best way to travel around Nanjing Tulou is hiring a local driver with a private car in advance, and then you can make convenient stops at any Tulou you like. All our Nanjing Tulou tour packages include such warm private car service, and we have English-speaking guide accompany you all the way to introduce the history and stories of the Tulou cluster. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us for help!

Fujian Tulou Location Map Fujian Tulou Location Map Travel around Nanjing Tulou by Private Car (Top Recommended) Travel around Nanjing Tulou by Private Car (Top Recommended)

Best Time to Visit Nanjing Tulou

Nanjing Tulou enjoys a pleasant weather all year around. It seldom snows. The weather in spring and autumn is the best. In summer, Nanjing Tulou is also a good place to avoid the summer heat, because there are flourish forests and fields. Winter in Nanjing Tulou is a little bit chilly. However, the temperature seldom drops below 10℃ even in this coldest time. Therefore, it is suitable to be visited at any time you want.

Warm tips:

  1. 1) During the Chinese holidays like the Spring Festival (normally comes in late-January or early-February) and the first week of May (Labor Day) and October (National Day), Nanjing Tulou may be a little bit crowded. If you happen to visit Nanjing Tulou at these periods of time, you are suggested to wake up earlier to go sightseeing.
  2. 2) If you are keen on fireflies at Taxia Village, you are suggested to visit there in June, July or August.

Check more about Tulou Weather & Best Time to Visit >>

Nanjing Tulou Tickets & Price

Instead of sharing one ticket, Nanjing Tulou offers three kinds of tickets. The ticket price varies from CNY 50~90 according to the different visiting routes you are going to experience. You can book the ticket according to your trip plan. Normally, visitors prefer the Route A or Route B. And if you want an in-depth visit of all these three routes, you are required to book three tickets.

Visiting Routes What’s Included Price (CNY/ person)
Route A Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster (Four Dishes and One Soup), Yuchang Building, Taxia Village 90
Route B Yunshuiyao Scenic Area (including Hegui Building and Huaiyuan Building) 90
Route C Hekeng Tulou Cluster 50

Note: the above price information is only for your reference. There may be adjustments according to real-time situation.

When & Where to Book a Nanjing Tulou Ticket?

Tourists can book the Tulou ticket on WeChat or its official website. However, it may be an unfriendly way for foreigners to book a ticket, because all of them are in Chinese and a Chinese mobile phone number is required. Booking tickets online is more popular for independent tourists who prefer a self-driving Tulou tour. For others, including a huge number of Chinese, they book tour packages from travel agencies, because the Tulou clusters are so dispersed and it is not an easy job at all to get to Nanjing Tulou from Xiamen, Fuzhou and any other places.

At least one day in advance is needed to book a Nanjing Tulou tour. During the peak season like Chinese holidays, at least 3 days in advance is recommended.

We China Discovery also offer Nanjing Tulou tour packages. And we can customize your personal Nanjing Tulou tour according to your interests and budget. If you are in need, please feel free to contact us!

Nanjing Tulou Travel Tips

  1. 1. While you can walk around the courtyard freely, going upstairs may be forbidden inside the earthen building at Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, because the rooms upstairs are the private living spaces of the locals.
  2. 2. Always bring mosquito repellent with you, especially in summer, because there are many mosquitos in this remote area.
  3. 3. Wear a pair of comfortable shoes instead of high-heels, because most of the walking roads, including the courtyard inside the Tulou, are paved by cobblestones.
  4. 4. Book your ticket at least one day in advance (at least 3 days in advance during the peak season).

How to Plan a Nanjing Tulou Tour

For a classic Nanjing Tulou tour, about 1~2 days are enough.

One-day Nanjing Tulou Tour: you can choose the Route A to explore the most popular Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, Yuchang Building and Taxia Village. Also, you can choose the Route B to visit Yunshuiyao Scenic Area.

Two-day Nanjing Tulou Tour: you can have an in-depth visit of the highlights of Route A and Route B, including Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, Yuchang Building, Huaiyuan Building, etc. If your time allows, you can also add Hekeng Tulou Cluster into your trip.

Since Yongding Tulou, another popular Tulou scenic area, is only 0.5~1 h or so from Nanjing Tulou by car, Tulou fans are highly suggested to visit these two areas in one go. About 2~3 days are enough to take such a Nanjing Tulou + Yongding Tulou Essence Tour!

3 Days Fujian Tulou & Hakka Culture Discovery Tour

Seldom tourists head to Tulou directly. Instead, they prefer to visit Tulou from Xiamen, the best gateway to Visit Nanjing Tulou. It needs about 3~5 days to discover Xiamen city highlights together with Hakka earthen buildings. And also, lots of travelers would travel Fujian Tulou and Xiamen with other hot destiantions, like, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Huangshan, Beijing, etc.

5 Days Cultural Tour to Xiamen & Fujian Tulou (Xiamen + Fujian Tulou)

5 Days Xiamen, Nanjing Tulou & Mount Wuyi Discovery Tour (Xiamen + Nanjing Tulou + Mount Wuyi)

6 Days Xiamen Nanjing Tulou & Yellow Mountain Amusing Tour (Nanjing Tulou + Huangshan)

If you have plans to savor more beauties and surprises of the diverse China, you can also contact us to customize your personal Tulou tour!

Sishishi inside Huaiyuan Building The School inside Huaiyuan Building
Xiamen Gulangyu Island Xiamen Gulangyu Island

Travel Nanjing Tulou with China Discovery

Looking for a hassle-free Nanjing Tulou tour? Travel with we China Discovery and let us take care of everything! We will select the best visiting route, best hotel, best Tulou for you according to your interest and budget and our first-hand knowledge about Nanjing Tulou! Our local driver will help you make efficient transfers between the Tulou clusters there. Besides, our professional guide will introduce you the interesting history, legends and stories of the Tulou you like.

The tour can be customized according to your interest, budget, group size and every special need! If you are in need, please contact us at any time!

Recommended Fujian Tulou Tours

Top 3 Fujian Tulou tours chosen by most customers to explore Fujian Tulou in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Mount Wuyi Joyous Jiuqu Stream Rafting

5 Days Xiamen, Fujian Tulou & Mount Wuyi Discovery Tour

Xiamen / Nanjing Tulou / Yongding Tulou / Xiamen / Wuyishan

Sightseeing from Sunlight Rock

2 Days Xiamen Essence Tour with Nanjing Tulou

Xiamen / Nanjing Tulou / Xiamen

The Antique Courtyard

5 Days Xiamen & Hakka Tulou Leisure & Luxury Tour with High-end Tulou Resort

Xiamen / Nanjing / Yongding / Xiamen

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