There aren't many villages in the world built to resemble a giant ox. At the youthful age of 900, east China's Hongcun Village is one such destination.
With Mount Huangshan as head, the lake-filled town as body and ancient bridges as legs, this is one distinctive beast. Even the waterways crossing the village are included as the circulatory system.
The most significant structure in the thousand-person village is Chengzhi Hall, a country palace built in 1855 with exquisite wood carvings and gold gilding from the Qing dynasty.
Testament to its authenticity, 2000's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" shot several scenes in the village.
Thanks to a hefty $743.54 million makeover by the local government in 2009, Tai'erzhuang in east China was able to restore its classic architecture to the condition of its Ming and Qing dynasty heyday.
Despite the small size, Tai'erzhuang has a number of traditional temples, waterways and museums. Traditional shadow puppetry shows and bonfire parties take place on Friday and Saturday nights.
Located on the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the two-square-kilometer town makes for a nice day trip from the Chinese capital.
Dubiously billing itself as the "oldest water town in China," this village, built in 1086, is crisscrossed with lantern-lined canals, a romantic reminder of China's past.
Despite its population of 138,000 people -- tiny by Chinese standards -- the town's location near Shanghai and Suzhou makes it easily accessible for short visits.
Visitors pass through shops selling woven bamboo and local pearls on the way to the town's two main religious sites, the Buddhist Quanfu Temple and the Taoist Chengxu Temple.
A boat ride through town costs around $16 (RMB 100) per vessel. Traditional Chinese folk tunes sung by gondoliers come free.
June is a popular time to visit, with the annual Dragon Boat Festival taking place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, when locals race dragon boats along the canals.
Praised for its natural feng shui, Huangyao Ancient Town lies in a river bend, supposedly preventing the locals' good fortune from flowing away.
While historically prosperous, the town's secluded location in southern China led to its unique development and preservation over a 1000-year history. Today, it's home to only 600 families.
Located in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Huangyao covers 360,000 square meters surrounded by steep karst mountains, which have plenty of large caves open for exploration.
A stroll down the flagstone-paved streets lined with ancestral temples provides a light and local experience.
Travelers can borrow one of the free bamboo rafts and float on the Zhou Reservoir.