The United States is no stranger to ghost towns. But the ghost towns that the United States is mostly famous for are the many boom-bust ghost towns of the Gold Rush eras (as well increasingly the declining cities and towns of the Rust Belt). There are ghost towns all around the world and sometimes these are very different from what one may expect in the United States.

Houtouwan is a ghost village in China that is being reclaimed by nature and is likely to be the next Instagrammer craze. It stands as a contrast to well-known American ghost towns like Bodie in California. Here one can see what a Chinese fishing village ghost town looks like.


Houtouwan: Its Decline and Abandonment

Houtouwan is an abandoned Chinese fishing village on Shengshan Island around 40 miles east of Shanghai, China. Shengshan Island is one of a chain of 400 islands of the Shengsi Island group. In its heyday, the island was home to over 2,000 fishermen and other residents but was abandoned in the early 1990s.

  • Former Population: Over 2,000 Fishermen and Other Residents
  • Abandoned: In the early 1990s
  • Population Today: Only A Handful

The village was abandoned mostly due to problems with education and food delivery to the island.

Also during the 1990s, the rather small bay became increasingly unable to meet the growing fish industry’s needs. This also pushed the resident out as they started to migrate to the Chinese mainland in search of better employment and a better life. The story of Houtouwan is a common one in China that has experienced massive urbanization in the last few decades.

Today only a handful of residents remain and it is becoming a popular local tourist attraction.

Related: Visit This Ghost Town On "Bannack Day" When It Comes Alive Once Again

Rise To Fame And The Other-Worldly Beauty of Houtouwan

In only a couple of decades, Houtouwan became overgrown in ivy over almost every building in the deserted village. It is stunning how the greenery has over overtaken what was once a bustling village. Here one can see how nearly every building is overgrown with ivy and other lush vegetation.

It has become a magnet with its otherworldliness. Almost every building is now overgrown in foliage - but its allure is even more than that. As a ghost town, various pieces of furniture remain frozen exactly as they were placed years ago before the inhabitants left.

In China, Houtouwan was rocked to fame in 2015 when a series of mesmerizing photographs of the deserted village went viral. Its sudden surge to fame overnight took the local authorities off guard as there was no local tourist infrastructure.

  • Fame: Houtouwan Became Famous In China In 2015 After Photos Went Viral

Since then some tourist infrastructure has been built so that tourists can admire the unique village while not being detrimental to it. According to CNN Travel, a viewing platform was opened in 2017 that offers views of the village (ticket price of $3).

Once there, visitors are permitted to hike around the hilly village for another fee of around $8. There are now also signs informing tourists about the dangers of entering the derelict buildings.

  • B&B: Bed And Breakfasts Have Spawned On The Island

The village has also spawned bed and breakfast accommodation options on the island

Related: 10 Forgotten Places In The US Worthy Of A Road Trip (And 9 That Might Be Too Much)

The Shengis Archipelago And Getting to Houtouwan

Designated a national scenic area in China the Shengis archipelago is made up of around 400 islets and is a popular getaway from the Shanghai mega-metropolis. The islands are famous for their seafood and support one of the largest fish farms in China.

  • Shengis Archipelago: The Only Archipelago Declared A National Scenic Area In China
  • When To Visit: In Summer (When The Vegetation is Mature and In Full Bloom)

One can get by taking a ferry from Shanghai's Shenjiawan Pier (at 9:15 a.m.) or Zhoushan Shenjiamen Banshengdong Dock (at 7 a.m.). These ferries run to Gouqui Island and from there it is possible to take a taxi to Houtouwan.

  • Getting There: Take A Ferry From The Mainland At Shanghai

China Is Full Of Attractions

China is a very underrated tourist destination. It is a massive country with a very long can complex history. Some of the other very unique attractions here include the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, the mystical lands of Tibet, the tropical island of Hainan, and the world's largest Buddhist institution of Seda or Larung Gar. And that is to say nothing of Fanjingshan temple that may be the world's most extremely perched monastery.

Tip: Hainan Is Visa Free

Many people have different opinions of China, but it is certain that most of China's attractions are largely unknown to the West.

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