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Weiwu, Why Not? Touring Hakka “Earth Houses” in Meizhou

Last time we share Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival near guangzhou Oakwood apartment with you, this time we will talk about Weiwu, Why Not? Touring Hakka “Earth Houses” in Meizhou.

When you hear the phrase "Hakka architecture", probably one of the first things that comes to mind are those donut-shaped tulou (土楼) earth houses in Fujian's Yongding county that are famous for being mistakenly identified as missile silos by an American intelligence agent. Less well-known—and shamefully underrated—are the 20,000 or so Hakka weiwu (围屋) buildings in Guangdong's Meizhou countryside (梅州), which have got everything you could ever want in a Hakka home and more.

Though not as well-known as Yongding, Meizhou is widely considered the unofficial center of all things Hakka, and thanks to a lack of overdevelopment, most of its traditional culture remains undisturbed. Most of the traditional architecture in the region is 200-300 years old, with the oldest dating back to 600 years ago. Though the buildings are scattered far and wide, a substantial number can be found  around the Meixian (梅县) and Dabu (大埔) counties. And aside from a few of the more famous sites, most of the weiwu are visible directly from the roads and fields, in a variety of architectural styles:

1) Tianhe Coach Station (天河客运站) has buses leaving for Meizhou from 8:00-17:00. It should cost 120 RMB for the whole trip, taking about 8 hours. From Jiangnan Bus Station in Meizhou (江南汽车站) you can catch a bus to Dabu leaving every half-hour from 6:30-17:00. In Dabu you'll find buses going just about everywhere, and public buses in Meizhou can also take you to Meixian country, but otherwise public transport is not terribly convenient.

2) Most of the weiwu in Meizhou are also private residences. Admission is free at some buildings but remember to say hello to the head of the household as you enter; other homes may charge admission.

3) Many of the weiwu you'll want to see are quite spread out and public transportation is often not the most convenient option; you may want to think about hiring a car for the day. Also, ask locals for distance estimates so you don't lose track of time.
4) If you're pressed for time, consider confining your explorations to just Meizhou city, Meixian county and/or Dabu county. The weiwu there are more densely concentrated, and are quite representative of those in surrounding areas. If you've got time though, be sure to check out Jiaoling (蕉岭) and Xingning (兴宁) counties as well. And if that's still not enough, no need to pore over a map—visiting pretty much any county in the Meizhou is sure to satisfy your craving for interesting architecture.


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