In China, roughly 40 miles from Shanghai on a remote archipelago, sits the abandoned village of Houtouwan. Normally, there would be nothing special about a relatively small village that was abandoned during the 90s for no reason, in particular, other than the lack of transportation on and off the island. This village is the exception to the rule, though, because Houtouwan doesn't look like every other abandoned ghost town out there... It's been reclaimed by nature and now, each building looks like something from a post-apocalyptic movie.


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The only difference between this village and a truly barren, deserted landscape is the fact that lush plants surround and cover each and every building within the area. While most of the buildings are broken down and partially dilapidated, there's a beauty there that has drawn many tourists from all over the region to experience it in person. It's known as the village that nature has reclaimed and as of 2018, it was open to people who wanted to view it or explore it for the price of admission. The allure of this village lies in its untouched dwellings, though - everything, from the interiors of the houses to the way each yard is laid out, has simply been left, as though its owners are due back at any moment. This eerily thrilling atmosphere is exactly what makes Houtouwan one of the world's most fascinating abandoned places.

Leaving The Town During The 1990s, Only One Decade After Its Construction

Not every new town has the makings of a permanent dwelling and, in the case of Houtouwan, it wasn't. This remote village was built on Shengshan Island and, while it's only about 40 miles from Shanghai, getting to this remote island is not as simple as a ferry ride. When the town was first built in the 1980s, it had a population of 3,000 people which is no small number for new development.

Despite that, by the 1990s, the realization dawned on many residents that the isolation of the island due to its location would soon become a big problem. As a result, the residents left, and by the early 2000s, there were no people left to claim its homes or business. As such, one resident moved in permanently and didn't leave: Mother Nature.

The Rush To See This Lush, Overtaken Ghost Town

While the term 'ghost town' is not meant in the sense that it's intended for many actual ghost towns throughout the world, it does echo the seem eeriness that the others do when it comes to a lack of human beings. Houtouwan went unnoticed for over a decade before people began to take notice of its intense overgrowth. Thanks to some photos that began circulating of the unbelievably green village, people started feeling the itch of the travel bug as calls were made and flights were booked. Even though it's not easy getting to Shengshan Island, it hasn't stopped those who are truly dedicated to making their way to the once-bustling village of Houtouwan.

Concerns were immediately raised over the sheer number of people who were trying to visit this village. While it seemed that Mother Nature would be unmoveable, history has shown that too much of a good thing - such as tourism - can lead to the eventual breakdown of a destination's natural environment, which is exactly what Houtouwan had become a haven for. Thus, tourism attractions, such as a viewing platform, and guided hikes were put into place so that people could safely observe this town's landscape, with a carefully controlled number of tourists allowed per day. As of 2017, the village had officially become a destination for many people, with bed and breakfasts popping up around the area to take advantage of the tourism, bringing in over $100,000 in profit in the first year alone.

Getting To The Island Is A Challenge

It's unusual to think of China and picture remote locations that are almost completely isolated from the mainland - but that's exactly what Shengshan Island is. The archipelago that Shengshan Island is part of is called the Shengsi Archipelago, and it's the only place in China that has been declared a National Scenic Area, giving it even more of a reputation with tourists seeking its lush landscape.

The ferry that takes visitors to the island departs from Shanghai at 9:15 AM and takes three hours before visitors are off-boarded on Gouqi Island, where they can take a taxi to Houtouwan. For those looking to skip a few steps, the bed and breakfasts in the area can make arrangements for travelers.

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