9 Ghost Towns In China – A Guide to China’s Ghostly Past

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the haunting remnants of China’s forgotten past? In this article, we will take you on a tour of 9+ ghost towns in China, exploring the silent chronicles that lie within their abandoned streets and crumbling residential buildings.

From the empty city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia to the modern and largest ghost cities of Kangbashi, each destination has a unique story waiting to be discovered. As you delve into the eerie atmosphere of these ghost towns, you will witness the abandoned dreams of Zhengzhou New District and the haunting remnants of Dantu in Jiangsu.

The forgotten streets of Beichuan in Sichuan and the deserted wonders of Wuzhen Water Town will transport you to a world frozen in time. You will feel a sense of awe as you wander through the faded glory of Fengdu Ghost City and the silent ruins of Houtouwan Village.

Together, we will delve into the mysteries of these forgotten ghost towns, unearthing their secrets and unraveling their enigmatic pasts.

1. Ordos

china's ghost cities - inner mongolia
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Ordos, once envisioned as a bustling metropolis, now stands deserted, with its grand buildings and wide streets echoing with emptiness. As you walk through the eerily quiet city, you can’t help but wonder what went wrong.

The ambitious plan to create a modern urban center in Inner Mongolia seemed promising at first, attracting investors and developers from all over. However, the dream quickly turned into a nightmare as the city failed to attract enough residents to fill its towering skyscrapers and sprawling neighborhoods.

The reasons behind Ordos’ downfall are complex and multifaceted. One major factor was the speculative nature of the real estate market in China at the time. Investors saw the Ordos as a prime opportunity for quick profits, pouring money into the city without considering the actual demand for housing and commercial space. As a result, many of the residential buildings in Ordos were left vacant and unfinished, creating a ghostly landscape that is both haunting and fascinating.

Today, Ordos serves as a cautionary tale for urban planners and developers, a reminder of the dangers of unchecked growth and the importance of sustainable development.

2. Kangbashi

china's ghost cities
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Explore Kangbashi, a modern ghost city in China, and discover its eerie and desolate atmosphere. As you wander through the streets of Kangbashi, you can’t help but feel a sense of emptiness and abandonment.

The towering skyscrapers that were once intended to house a bustling population now stand as silent reminders of a dream that never came to fruition. The streets, once bustling with activity, are now eerily quiet, with only the sound of the wind echoing through the empty buildings. It’s a surreal experience, walking through a city that was built for over a million people, but now only houses a mere fraction of that number.

As you venture further into Kangbashi, you notice the unfinished construction projects scattered throughout the town. Half-built buildings, abandoned parks, and empty plazas are a common sight. The grandeur and ambition that once surrounded this city are now overshadowed by a sense of failure and disappointment. It’s as if the city itself is frozen in time, trapped in a state of perpetual incompleteness.

Despite its desolate atmosphere, Kangbashi does have a few residents who refuse to leave, clinging to the hope that one day the city will come alive. These few inhabitants roam the streets, a small community in a city that was meant to be so much more.

As you interact with them, you can’t help but wonder what went wrong. How did a city that was once hailed as a symbol of China’s progress and prosperity become a ghost city? The answers are complex, involving factors such as overinvestment, speculation, and a failed economic model.

In the end, Kangbashi serves as a haunting reminder of the risks and challenges that come with rapid urbanization and development. It stands as a cautionary tale, urging us to carefully consider the consequences of our actions and to ensure that our dreams are built on a solid foundation.

As you leave Kangbashi behind, you can’t help but hope that one day this modern ghost city will find new life, and its streets will once again be filled with the vibrant energy of a thriving community.

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3. Zhengzhou New District

china's ghost cities
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As you delve into the history of the Zhengzhou New District, you uncover the abandoned dreams and forgotten aspirations that once filled its streets.

This district, located in the Henan province of China, was envisioned as a bustling metropolis, complete with towering skyscrapers, modern infrastructure, and a thriving economy. However, the reality is far from the initial vision.

Today, the Zhengzhou New District stands as a haunting reminder of unfulfilled promises and a failed urban experiment.

Walking through the empty streets of this ghost city, you can’t help but feel a sense of sadness and disbelief. The once grand buildings now stand vacant and abandoned, their windows shattered and their paint peeling.

The sidewalks that were once meant to be filled with pedestrians are now overgrown with weeds, as nature slowly reclaims its territory. It is a stark contrast to the vibrant city that was once envisioned.

The dreams and hopes of the people who invested in this project have been left shattered, as the Zhengzhou New District remains a symbol of broken promises and lost potential.

4. Dantu, Jiangsu

china's ghost cities
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Walking through the desolate streets of Dantu, Jiangsu, you can’t help but be captivated by the eerie remnants of a once-thriving community. As you wander past dilapidated buildings and overgrown courtyards, you can almost hear the whispers of the past.

The abandoned homes, shops, and schools stand as silent witnesses to the dreams and aspirations that once filled this place. It’s a haunting reminder of how quickly a city can become a ghost town.

As you continue your exploration, you come across an empty playground, its swings swaying gently in the wind. It’s a stark contrast to the laughter and joy that once filled these spaces. The silence is overwhelming, broken only by the occasional creaking of a rusty gate or the sound of your footsteps echoing through the empty streets. It’s as if time has stood still in Dantu, frozen in a moment of abandonment and decay.

The haunting remnants of Dantu, Jiangsu, serve as a poignant reminder of the impermanence of human existence. It’s a reminder that cities rise and fall, dreams are made and shattered, and that life, even in its most vibrant form, can be fleeting.

As you leave this ghost town behind, you can’t help but wonder about the stories that once unfolded here and the people who called this place home.

5. Beichuan, Sichuan

chinese ghost cities
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Roaming through the deserted streets of Beichuan, Sichuan, you can’t help but feel a sense of melancholy as you witness the forgotten remnants of a once vibrant community. The buildings, now in ruins, stand as a haunting reminder of the devastating earthquake that struck in 2008.

The cracked walls and collapsed roofs tell a story of lives abruptly interrupted and dreams shattered. As you walk past the remnants of what used to be homes, shops, and schools, the eerie silence surrounds you, broken only by the sound of the wind blowing through the empty streets. It’s a stark contrast to the bustling city it once was, now frozen in time.

The deserted streets of Beichuan paint a picture of a community left behind, its people forced to relocate and rebuild elsewhere. The absence of laughter, conversations, and footsteps is a poignant reminder of the lives that were lost and the pain that still lingers.

Nature has begun to reclaim what was once hers, with weeds growing through the cracks in the pavement and vines climbing up the dilapidated walls. It’s a heartbreaking sight, but also a testament to the resilience of those who survived.

As you stand amid this ghost town, you can’t help but reflect on the fragility of life and the power of nature to both create and destroy.

6. Gunkanjima

chinese ghost cities
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Immerse yourself in the eerie atmosphere of Gunkanjima, China’s abandoned island, where the remnants of a forgotten heritage lie hidden among the decaying buildings and rusted machinery. As you step onto the desolate island, you can’t help but feel a sense of curiosity mixed with a tinge of unease.

The once bustling streets are now empty, with nature slowly reclaiming its territory. The towering concrete structures stand as a haunting reminder of the island’s past, where coal mining once thrived.

Walking through the silent streets, you can almost hear the whispers of the past echoing in the wind. Gunkanjima, also known as Hashima Island, was once a thriving community in the 20th century. It housed thousands of workers and their families, who toiled in the dangerous coal mines.

Now, all that remains are empty buildings and decaying walls, telling a story of a forgotten era. The island’s eerie beauty captivates your senses, as you explore the abandoned school, hospital, and apartments, imagining the lives that were once lived here.

Gunkanjima serves as a haunting testament to the impermanence of human existence, reminding us of the fragility of our legacies.

7. Wuzhen Water Town

china's housing market
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As you step foot into Wuzhen Water Town, the deserted wonders of this ancient village transport you to a world of timeless beauty and forgotten stories.

The narrow cobblestone streets wind their way through traditional wooden houses, each with its unique charm.

As you stroll along the canals that crisscross the town, you can’t help but marvel at the intricate stone bridges that connect the different sections.

The stillness of the water reflects the tranquility of the town, giving it an almost ethereal quality. It’s as if time has stood still here, preserving the essence of a bygone era. As you explore further, you come across small shops selling handmade crafts and local delicacies.

The scent of freshly brewed tea wafts through the air, enticing you to take a break and indulge in a cup. The locals, although few, are warm and welcoming, eager to share stories of the town’s rich history. You learn that Wuzhen Water Town dates back more than a thousand years, and its well-preserved architecture is a testament to its cultural significance.

The ancient stone houses with their intricate carvings and wooden lattice windows transport you back in time, allowing you to imagine the lives of those who once called this place home.

As you bid farewell to this deserted wonder, you can’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to experience such a magical place and the stories it holds.

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8. Fengdu Ghost City

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Step into the eerie atmosphere of Fengdu Ghost City, where the grandeur of its once majestic structures now stands in faded glory, casting haunting shadows over your path.

As you walk along the crumbling stone pathways, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and intrigue. The intricate carvings on the buildings tell stories of a bygone era, while the peeling paint and overgrown vegetation serve as a reminder of the passage of time.

As you explore further, you come across the famous ‘Last Glance at Home Tower,’ a towering structure that symbolizes the final farewell of the deceased before entering the afterlife. The tower’s weathered appearance and cracked windows only add to its mysterious allure. You can’t help but imagine the countless souls who passed through here, their hopes and fears intertwined with the spiritual realm.

Fengdu Ghost City may be faded and worn, but its mystique and history continue to captivate visitors. It serves as a poignant reminder of the transient nature of life and the enduring power of the supernatural.

So, embrace the eerie atmosphere and let the faded glory of Fengdu Ghost City transport you to a world where the past converges with the present in a hauntingly beautiful way.

9. Houtouwan Village

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Explore the haunting allure of Houtouwan Village‘s silent ruins, where the forgotten echoes of a once vibrant community whisper tales of resilience and abandonment. As you wander through the overgrown pathways and crumbling houses, you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and melancholy.

Nature has reclaimed this once bustling fishing village, with lush greenery and wildflowers now growing through the cracks in the decaying walls. It’s a surreal sight as if time has stood still and frozen this village in a forgotten era.

The remnants of Houtouwan Village stand as a testament to the ingenuity and adaptability of its former residents. Perched on the eastern side of Shengshan Island, this secluded village was once home to over 2,000 people. However, as the fishing industry declined and younger generations sought better opportunities in the cities, the village was gradually abandoned.

Today, it serves as a haunting reminder of the ebb and flow of life. The dilapidated houses and empty streets evoke a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era, while also serving as a stark reminder of the impermanence of human existence. Houtouwan Village’s silent ruins beckon you to explore its hidden corners and uncover the stories that lie within its crumbling walls.


In conclusion, exploring ghost towns is an eerie and fascinating journey. From the empty streets of Ordos to the modern yet deserted Kangbashi, each ghost town tells a silent chronicle of China’s changing landscape.

The abandoned dreams of Zhengzhou New District and the haunting remnants of Dantu, Jiangsu serve as reminders of the rapid urbanization and development that have left these towns empty and forgotten.

The silent ruins of Houtouwan Village and the faded glory of Fengdu Ghost City evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue, inviting visitors to uncover their secrets.

As you wander through these forgotten places, you can’t help but feel a sense of melancholy and wonder. The deserted wonders of Wuzhen Water Town and the forgotten streets of Beichuan, Sichuan transport you to a different time, where the echoes of past lives still linger in the air.

Exploring the mysteries of China’s ghost towns allows you to glimpse into a world that once was, and contemplate the transient nature of human existence. So, put on your exploring shoes, and venture into the silent chronicles of China’s ghost towns – a journey you won’t soon forget.

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