The literal translation for Houjie, Thick Street, is a reference to the town’s association throughout its history with relative affluence and wealth. Stories say that over 800 years ago, a high-ranking official moved from Fujian, settling on a street with a similar name. At that the time, it was ‘Back Street,’ a name with the same pronunciation, but a different Chinese character.
The street prospered, its population grew and businesses boomed, so locals replaced a character to project their happier and wealthier lives. And according to a Houjie tourist website, Houjie has prospered ever since without encountering any major hindrances. In recent history, many cities and towns benefited economically from China’s opening up policy in 1978. Houjie is one of them. It became a national star town as early as the ’80s.
Houjie is in a great geographic location. It is on the east bank of the Pearl River Delta and the middle section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen economic corridor, only an hour from each of the PRD’s major cities. To the south, it borders the Humen Port, and in the north it is linked to downtown. Today Houjie has brought its prosperity to another level. It is home to the Guangdong Modern International Exhibition Center, which each year hosts large exhibitions featuring, among others, furniture, machinery, auto-parts and shoes.
There are almost 1,000 furniture or shoe related companies sprinkled through the town. Ask one of your Chinese friends, “Where can I buy cheap and quality shoes?” Houjie is usually the answer.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Kangle Nan Lu, once called the most crowded street in Dongguan, is a 5-kilometer-long walking street with hundreds of stores and restaurants at its sides. The north part of the street, is home to street vendors with all kinds of (sometimes weird) stuff. Walking south, clusters of fine Chinese and Western restaurants and bars appear.
Shoppers can spend hours checking out the stores and their wares. Actually you can even find brands that can’t be found downtown. The street, especially at night, really represents the vibe of Houjie’s life. But since the a massive crackdown on hotel spas early this year, the street is not as jostling as it was.
When hunting food, there is a night BBQ street called Xinglong Jie running just parallel to Kangle Nan Road. Every day from 6 to 7 p.m., dozens of local restaurants and BBQ vendors set up tables and chairs along the street to beckon passersby. There are a variety of foods to choose from, as well as young, singing street performers to interact with. The whole street comes alive with glasses clinking and people chatting.
If traditional Houjie cuisine is desired, roast goose lai fun is probably the most famous. Lai fun noodles are made with glutinous rice, which gives it more of a chewy texture than most other noodles, kind of like Western pasta. The goose has a crispy skin, but the meat is tender and juicy. A perfect combination is to order a bowl of lai fun with soup, which adds flavor, and a big goose leg. Go to the popular restaurant named Sidar Food to try it for a very reasonable price. The restaurant is located at No.43, Shanhu Lu, not far from Kangle Nan Lu.
There is one place to go for soaking in quiet nature. Haiyue Yan Park, located in Yongkou Village, has a beautiful lake. You can walk around the whole lake on its banks like the Xihu (West Lake) of Hangzhou. In the middle of the lake, a small island linked by a very crooked bridge, makes a fun walk. On the other side, a cluster of pagoda temples is built on the wooded hills. It’s quite a nice scene from a distance. But it’s also fun while treking up the stairs to take a closer look.
There is one more thing you should try in Houjie. On the 48th floor of Houjie International Hotel, is Dongguan’s highest rotating restaurant. The food and service there is nice, with reasonable prices.
Houjie is quite near downtown Dongguan. If you take buses, L4 can take you there directly from downtown. If you go to the bus station, there are more choices to get there. The ride takes 30 to 40 minutes.
A more convenient way to get there is by taxi. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes depending on where you start and should cost not more than RMB 50.
Location: Southwest Dongguan
Area: 126 sq. kilometers
Journey Time: around 30 minutes from downtown
Local Attractions: Kangle Nan Lu, BBQ Street, Sidar Food Restaurant, Haiyue Yan Park, 360° Revolving Restaurant