Nantou Ancient Town

One of the common criticisms of Shenzhen is that there is no history, and for the most part this is true.  The city is only 40 years old and a lot of the older villages and rural areas have been demolished to make way for more apartments and shopping malls.  However there is one old part of Shenzhen still standing.  In fact it is the oldest part of SZ, and that is Nantou Ancient Town.  This history of Nantou dates back to 331 AD, and the current ‘walled city’ is from 1394. And despite the rapid growth of SZ the traditional architecture remains.  It was first built to guard Dongguan and later became the centre of Xin’an county.  But what’s there to do here?

Ancient imperious wall /Image courtesy of Joe Macpherson
Giant walled gateway /Image courtesy of Joe Macpherson

What to do?

Nantou Ancient Town has a lot to see, so I recommend starting with the Guandi Temple. Its located near the main gate to the ‘walled city’ and it’s the authentic real type of temple you don’t see often in SZ. I’m unsure of the age of it but it defiantly ‘has age’ and its very quiet with maybe one or two people milling around. Photos are permitted. And you can light a candle or make a wish if you so desire. Its small and has an authentic community feel to it.

narrow alleyways are perfect for exploring /Image courtesy of Joe Macpherson
Unexpected sights at an ancient city /Image courtesy of Joe Macpherson

Ancient Walled City

After you head through the main gate you’ll be surmised how busy this area is, no matter the time of day. Whether its people buying groceries for the day, or people heading off to work, it’s a hive of activity. Traditional residential houses, and other temples with styles from the Qing dynasty can be seen here.  The buildings are very close together creating narrow and dark alleyways that are pretty rare to see in a mega-city like SZ.  Street food is another appealing aspect of Nantou Ancient Town. The dishes are pretty common, and can be found almost everywhere, it for some reason tastes a lot better.  You just know they have been doing it for generations.

Beautiful courtyard feel /Image courtesy of Joe Macpherson

Modern twist

In the past Nantou hosted the 5th UABB ( bi-city biennale of urbanism/architecture ), which featured artists and designers from countries all over the world, and some of the designs and architecture of this event remain.  Mainly the coloured buildings, street art, and cool industrial style which is a sharp contrast to the traditional aesthetic of the area.  So while there may not seem like so much to do here, it does provide a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city, and who doesn’t like to see something new?

modern twist to an ancient town /Image courtesy of Joe Macpherson
flashes of character everywhere /Image courtesy of Joe Macpherson


Directions.  Daxin metro station exit A. walk forward around 700M. turn right at the signpost for ‘nantou ancient town museum’ walk forward around 400m to a long spiral bridge. Its on opposite side of the road.

Bus 42, 78, 201, 301, 311, 338, 395, m200, m371 to  Nantou

Beside of Tianqiao Bridge, Nanshan District, Shenzhen 518055


东省深圳市南山区南头南新路 邮政编码

Please keep following the official account to learn more about what to do and where to go in Shenzhen and beyond, or you may connect with me directly

If Nantou Ancient town interests you, you might like to read about this similar places in Shenzhen

Dapeng Fortress

Hakka Village in Longgang