Houtouwan, a once-thriving Chinese fishing village located about 40 miles southeast of Shanghai, is now empty and eerily overgrown with ivy. Well, not entirely empty—the abandoned town has become a popular tourist destination since it was "rediscovered" by travelers in 2015, as Travel+Leisure reports.
Located on Shengshan, one of 394 islands that make up the Shengsi archipelago, the town was home to 2000 people in the '90s. However, when villagers could no longer compete with commercial fishing operations in Shanghai, they picked up and moved to the mainland in search of better opportunities. Some left all of their furniture and belongings behind, which can still be seen if you peer inside some of the abandoned homes.
Only a few people still live in the village, including tour guides ready to cater to curious tourists who find themselves captivated by the half-ruined buildings blanketed in plants and vines. "It feels like this place belonged to nature from the very beginning, and the old invaders finally left, and nature finally made it back," Huang Dan, a recent visitor to the town, told the Associated Press.
Last year, a tourist entry fee of 50 yen (about 50 cents) was enacted in the town. The destination is popular among hikers and has a dirt path that winds through the village and up the hill. (Emphasis on "uphill": It's a two-hour hike, so be sure to bring good walking shoes.)
According to National Geographic, the journey from mainland China to the town of Houtouwan takes about five hours by bus and ferry, and it's easy to get lost. (A videographer and photographer spent 36 hours trying to get there because they couldn't find the right ferries or connections.) Per the magazine's directions:
From Shanghai, you can go to the Nanpu Bridge Bus Station and take a bus and ferry ride to Shengshan Island or to Gouqi Island, which is connected to Shengshan via bridge. That commute alone takes about four hours. From there, you can take a taxi to Houtouwan and hike through the village and the surrounding area. When you see a big temple, you're getting close.
As for whether any ghosts inhabit this ghost town, there isn't much to fear. One longtime resident told the AP, "I've lived in this world for such a long time, and have never met one."