Backpacking in Fujian Province: Tian Luo Keng Cluster Tulou

Backpacking in Fujian Province: The Tian Luo Keng Cluster Tulou

Backpacking in Fujian Province: The Tian Luo Keng Cluster Tulou

After visiting our first Earthen Building of the Fujian Tour, our driver dropped us off for a few minutes to check out the views up to the small settlement known as Tian Luo Keng. We had two stops in total for Tian Luo Keng, the first stop was from below where we could gaze upwards at this mountainside settlement of Earthen Buildings. While staying in the Fujian region at Daxia near the Gaobei Hamlet we suggest you try to book a flight and hotel deal together as this way, you cut out the tiring time aspect of travel. You know what it’s like in China, you can’t understand any writing!

We parked the car at the foot of the hill around 10 am and we could stare up at this settlement which is halfway up the mountains.

The views are totally immense. There are layered fields, some still used for rice plantations obviously and these adorn the mountain and hillsides. China in this respect, never fails to disappoint from a backpacking perspective.

Jonny from Backpacking in China in front of the Earthen Buildings at Tian Luo Keng. A Tulou cluster.

Our team member Panny also posing in front of the Earthen Buildings of Tian Luo Keng. This particular set of buildings is often nicknamed “four dishes and one soup” due to their appearance from above as looking like a meal table set, well so the Chinese say. Tian Luo Keng also translates into English as “snail pit” – another oddity lost in translation.

You will enjoy the view at the bottom of Tian Luo Keng. It is officially known as the Tian Luo Keng Tulou “Cluster”. There are a total of five noble buildings here – three are circles, one is an oval and one is a square in shape. It is possible to spend the night living in one of these buildings, but we were already staying in Taxia Village nearby at the Qingde Building. The building you can stay in at Tian Luo Keng is called Ruiyun Lou.

The countryside setting is also completely inspiring as you can tell from these photos.

After checking out the view, then we get back in the car and our driver takes us to the top, for a view looking down into the cluster. As the Chinese know this is a touristy spot, we have to pay 100 Yuan to get in, though this is included in the tour cost for the entire day. It seems a bit of a rip off though, as all you get for this is entrance to a ledge to view the cluster from – so honestly if you can get to a free viewing point – do it – we weren’t concerned as our cost was included in the whole tour. The driver also lies to us telling us you cannot go inside the buildings at Tian Luo Keng – we knew you could – our driver and guide was actually a first rate a-hole!

These buildings then are all known as Tulou and are of course a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. They were started by a group of people or a tribe or family known as The Hakka (totally different to the New Zealand dance by the way). They are mostly in Yongding County. During the Jin Dynasty of AD 265 – 314, the Hakka people of northwest China moved to these southern regions and provinces, Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong and set up these Tulou buildings to protect them from bandits and wild animals.

Flying the travelling Northern Ireland flag overlooking the amazing Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster.

A few couple photo overlooking the cluster. What’s also interesting is how these buildings were built and the purpose of them. They were actually built using a variety of local materials. Rammed earth, glutinous rice, wood and even bamboo. The word “clan” can describe the groups of people that were housed within, though as most of them are related, family is also acceptable. These clans still live here, generations on, proving the cheapness and longevity of these amazing structures. When we were there we asked about going inside, sadly we didn’t get a chance. But we were inside about 4 or 5 other Tulou style buildings during the tour of the region anyway.

Panny looks down on Tianluokeng. It was also Panny’s first time here in this area, despite the fact that she has travelled in China extensively on many occasions and is backpacking in China’s official budget travel expert.

The above photo gives an overview of the location of Tian Luo Keng – against a backdrop so typical of Chinese countryside.

The entrance gate at Tian Luo Keng. Again the 100 Yuan is not worth it and all we got for that was the view, and a ticket, if its not included in your tour, don’t pay it.

The ticket front and back, all in Chinese of course and it also shows the geographic location of Tian Luo Keng which is basically in the middle of nowhere.

A few more countryside shots of the gorgeous Tian Luo Keng.

So yes – when you pay in all you get is a VIEW. You simply go in, stand on a balcony and get your photos. 

View right into one of the circular Tulou buildings. You can see people’s washing hanging up.

More close ups as that was as good as it got. Not to worry as the rest of the tour we would be right inside the other Tulou buildings in various parts of the Fujian Province.

Fujian mountainous wilderness.

Entrance turnstiles. A bit over elaborate for what is basically just a balcony with a view.

The small settlement also had a police station on the side of the road. It seemed a bit odd and out of place. I also couldn’t imagine anyone causing any trouble at this particular tourist spot.

The view on round the hills where we were heading next. When we left Tian Luo Keng, we were off to a local village which is called Pushan Village (though it has 3 different parts and names).

Our car for the Fujian Tour – I just have to mention once again that our driver was a wanker, here is some information on him, make sure you avoid him!!


On a final note and every part of this tour will get this – Make sure you avoid this horrible guy and tour company for the day. His name translated into English is something like Sau Jun. He’s a dickhead! Pity really as the Fujian Province is stunning.

This entrance sign shows the cluster lit up at night, which we would have got to see had we stayed overnight there – that might be worth checking out!!

Where and What Is It? – Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, Tian Luo Keng Village, Shuyang Township, Nanjing County, Zhangzhou City, Fujian Province, CHINA

Entry Price – 100 Yuan
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