On my last visit, I attended a film themed event at Jindao Canyon Resort. The host was the well known local film director Vernon Chen, the owner of OurFilm Studios, and creator of the trilogy ‘Une Francaise a Chongqing法国女孩在重庆.’
Thanks to new motorways and roads, the journey takes just over an hour from Yubei District, with a stretch cutting through picturesque rural villages.
Bianyan ‘Flatrock’ Old Town扁岩古镇
In the past, I have also stopped halfway at an authentic old town that’s not well known to outside travelers. It’s called Flat Rock Old Town编研古镇(Bian yan gu zhen), it’s an attractive, charming little town to explore, where the pretty alleyways are offered shade from the verdant surroundings, making a summer stopover an enticing option. You would definitely enjoy a good morning or afternoon there, rounded off by local food on a balcony overlooking the wide, clear gurgling stream and lush surroundings.
The shop fronts at Bianyan are run by locals, and many sell home crafted products, foods and condiments to take away with you. Unlike the way over-commercialised Ciqikou Old Town磁器口, you won’t find the streets completely lined with tacky souvenirs shops and chain stores. You won’t have to push and shove your way through jostling crowds, either. Bianyan is certainly off the beaten track, so you even at the busiest of times, you will have plenty of space to breathe and explore in relative peace.
The first evening
When you approach the Jindao Canyon scenic area, the road takes you past lines of local guesthouses and restaurants that are very reasonable, but our accommodation for the night was the Liangjiang Holiday Hotel两江假日酒店. A three floor hotel with all the amenities, parking, and a short walk from the main entrance of the canyon.
In the evening, our friends and groups of other tourists had set up barbecue stalls and even hotpot on the outdoors tables. We chatted and enjoyed the surroundings as some tourists set up tents on wooden berths that are available for campers overnight.
As dusk set in, everybody went to the small village near the entrance, and Vernon Chen personally talked us through a Thai film he was a particular admirer of. I can’t remember the exact name, but it was a comedy come horror film about the ghost of a dead wife not willing to leave her husband behind, and his band of extremely timid friends who run for dear life whenever they sense her presence.
It was a late spring evening, so everyone sat outside to watch the enjoyable film as it was projected onto a large portable screen under the warm and peaceful starry night.
After a recommended shortcut by taking the cable car, the canyon trail leads you over three kilometres down a deep, pristine valley sided with vertical cliffs. There is a solid wooden path to follow, and you sometimes go through manmade coridoors cut into the mountain, over bridges, and even a section you pass on a boat. The clean swift flowing stream rushes at varying speeds below, and the natural surroundings offer a very cool escape from the summer heat outside.
For the adventurous, there’s a section where you can actually descend the canyon Bear Grylls style by taking to the water on foot, and climbing your way down waterfalls using metal supports and ropes secured into the rock for this purpose. This option is only for the most physically able adventurers and thrill seekers, as there is some considerable danger involved. You will also need to wear a safety helmet, as well as your own specialised equipment and clothing.
Mere mortals needn’t feel concerned about the physical exertion. A day out will only involve two or three hours of moderate walking, and the walkway doesn’t require any steep climbs.
When you reach the end of the canyon, there are lines of van drivers offering rides back to the main entrance, which is the North Gate北门 where you will find most of the hotels and village.
Ideally, you’ll need to arrange personal transport to take in both the old town and canyon. My suggestion would be to spend a few more hours at Bianyan before spending the evening outside Jindao Canyon in one of the hotels. The next day, you’ll have plenty of time to walk through the canyon, and make it back home in the late afternoon the following day.