Hit Movie by Zhang Yimou Fuels Tourist Rush to Ancient County

TAIYUAN, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — As China’s Spring Festival holiday film “Full River Red” tops the country’s box office, a county in north China’s Shanxi province is having its moment.

Taiyuan ancient county, where “Full River Red” was filmed, has become a hot destination for tourists, many of whom are impressed by the county’s intricate, winding alleyways and distinct ancient courtyards as featured in the movie.

 Aerial photo taken on Jan. 7, 2020 shows the snow scenery of the Taiyuan Ancient County in Taiyuan City, capital of north China’s Shanxi Province. (Xinhua/Cao Yang)

Directed by renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou, the movie was released on Jan. 22, the first day of the Chinese New Year. The twist-filled film led the January Chinese box office, raking in approximately 3.43 billion yuan (about 510 million U.S. dollars).

Li Qing is one of the film-inspired tourists from Beijing. A fan of ancient architecture, she decided to go to the county the day after watching the movie.

Full River Red movie

“It’s interesting watching the actors going back and forth in the narrow alleyways, and the yard carries very local characteristics. My friends and I can’t wait to see the real location,” Li said while shooting a short video in the ancient county for uploading to her social media.

From Jan. 21 to 31, the county received over 400,000 tourists, compared with about 180,000 visitors during the last Spring Festival holiday. One-third of the tourists are from outside Shanxi Province, local statistics showed.

The Taiyuan Ancient County is part of the Jinyang Ancient City relics found in today’s Taiyuan city. It is dubbed the “Phoenix County” due to its overall layout that resembles a soaring phoenix. (Xinhua/Cao Yang)

Taiyuan ancient county, located in Jinyuan District in the city of Taiyuan, has a history of over 600 years. It is also famed as the “Phoenix County” due to its semblance to the traditional Chinese mythical creature.

Once dilapidated, the ancient county was put under restoration by the local authorities in 2013. In May 2021, the town reopened to the public after restoration.

Snow scenery of the Taiyuan Ancient County in Taiyuan City, capital of north China’s Shanxi Province. (Xinhua/Cao Yang)

“We have retained the original feel of the ancient county as much as possible so that more people can experience the local culture,” said Yang Runde, deputy head of the publicity department of Jinyuan District.

Today, ancient buildings and temples are dotted along the main street of the county. At night, buildings are illuminated, and various shops bustle along the streets. The area attracts tourists with its delicious Shanxi cuisine and traditional crafts such as glassware production, vinegar-making, and flower cakes.

Aerial photo taken on Jan. 7, 2020 shows the snow scenery of the Taiyuan Ancient County. (Xinhua/Cao Yang)

During the Spring Festival holiday, the county is hosting a lantern festival, where customers could enjoy lantern exhibitions, go shopping, taste local food, and watch folk performances.

“We have been tapping into the history and culture of the ancient county. Over the last two years, the county’s cultural tourism industry is more and more optimized, and the activities are getting richer,” said Yang Wenjie, who heads the brand marketing of the county.