Chengyang is a cluster of eight villages in a small river valley in hilly country about five hours northwest of Guilin. It is about 18 kilometers north of Sanjiang on the Linxi River. The township is a farming community with tea plantations in the hills and fields next to the river. The villages are clusters of wooden structures, and the whole view is scenic. Chengyang has a covered bridge called the Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge over the river. The bridge is built on five thick pillars, and atop each pillar are multi-story wooden structures with layered roofs. It is unusual architecture. Perhaps the heavy layered roofs are meant to weigh down the bridge to the pillar foundations. There are about 100 traditional covered bridges like this in the area, but this is a big one. The big intricately covered bridges don’t seem necessary since the weather is generally mild. The Chengyang area is great hiking country, so the place is a great area to get out and explore a picturesque farming community with a unique culture.
Chengyang is a district consisting of eight famous stockade villages that give a look into the Dong people’s lives and customs. It is about four or five hours northwest of the famous tourist area of Guilin and Yangshuo. However, the area north of Guilin actually has a more beautiful hiking and outdoors environment than does Guilin or the town of Yangshuo south of Guilin. The Li River valley of Yangshuo is beautiful, but the fields and villages around Yangshuo aren’t much more scenic than in the rest of China, and a hike can get boring. In Chengyang, you can walk around on the hills and perhaps have meals in the villages or in a welcoming peasant’s house, and there are guesthouses that cater to backpackers.See China hiking tours
Chengyang has picturesque scenery. The multi-story houses in the villages are clustered into tight groups. They look very unusual. Walking in the higher hills, you can see the meandering Linxi River, tea trees growing on the hills, local farmers working hard in the fields, and turning waterwheels. You can hike to see other villages or Dong architecture such as the Mapang Drum Tower. You can see or walk over other covered bridges since there are about 100 of them in the area. There are about 160 drum towers in the Sanjiang area.
There are several trails. One route runs from Chengyang through Ping Tan, Gao Ma, and Ji Chang and takes about seven hours or a good day. You can also hike for about six hours from Chengyang to Mapang where the Mapang Drum Tower is. This route goes through the village of Guandong. In Mapang, you can catch a bus to Sanjiang. You see plenty of wooden houses, rice fields, and tea plantations on the hills during this hike. You can stay the night in guesthouses or hotels in both Chengyang and Sanjiang. The Chengyang National Hostel may have dorm bunks for 15 RMB or about 1.50 USD. The Dong Village Hotel in Chengyang may also have dorm beds for 15 RMB, and they may provide information about local trails.
The structure is a few decades old. The structure is unusual and somewhat beautiful. There are five solid stone pillars each with a wooden pavilion on top. The bridge measures about 64 meters (211 feet) long, 3.4 meters (11 feet) wide and 10 meters (34.78 feet) high. Wooden pillars run the course of the bridge and support the roof. It is said that the whole structure is built without a single nail or metal support. The planks and beams are said to be held together by using joints. In Mandarin, the bridge is called the Feng Yu Qiao or the Wind and Rain Bridge. It is one of about 100 such bridges in the area, and it is said to be the biggest. It is interesting architecture to visit.
It is said to be shelter for the villagers and a place to sit and enjoy the scenery and meet. There is a fee for seeing the bridge of about 30 RMB, and women sell embroidery and cotton blankets boldly patterned in black and white. One may also be able to buy shiny blue-black Dong jackets dyed with indigo and varnished in egg white as a protection against mosquitoes. Dance shows are also put on for an extra fee.
From the bridge, you can watch the river and the people going about their activities. You can see a tight group of two or three story houses. The houses are overlooked by a square drum tower. For an excursion while visiting the bridge, there's a trail from the main road up to two pavilions overlooking Chengyang. These give views of the villages nestled among vivid green fields.
Bridge Fee: 30 RMB (about 4.75 USD)