Daojiao Town was first founded as a village in 1342 A.D. in the Yuan Dynasty. Its name originally did not use the “dao” it uses today, which means paths or rules in Chinese, but with its homophone “dao,” meaning “arriving at.” In some dialects, “jiao” means river conjunction.
Water goes backwards at the river conjunctions due to a tidal phenomenon and many rivers in Daojiao are subject to the liquid events. That’s how its name came into being. Since the year 1837, Daojiao Town has also used another name, “Jichuan,” meaning “crossing the rivers.” Today Daojiao’s most prestigious high school is still called Jichuan High School.
The origins of Daojiao Town’s name might shed some light on its geographic location today. Daojiao is crossed by many tributaries from the Dong, or East, River along with neighboring Wangniudun Town in the north, Hongmei Town in the west, Nancheng in the east and Houjie in the south.
It shares features with those other Dongguan watery towns. It’s competitive in swimming sports and dragon boat racing and it produces a large amount of rice and other crops, with a relaxing pace of life along the waterside. Daojiao Town doesn’t strike people as a rich town, for there are less businesses than some other towns, and less people walking on the streets, but it’s steeped in culture like Cantonese Opera and making of traditional foods, which also makes it distinguishable in Dongguan City.
WHAT CAN I DO?
There isn’t much to see in the center area of the town, where most government buildings, shopping malls and hotels reside, since it is identical to other towns in many ways. But it might be worth taking a stroll down to the old areas.
Xinglong Street, located in the middle of the town, is the most historic street among them all. Business and life has been conducted here since the commencement of Daojiao history. The street suffered a setback in 1926 when most of the shops on the street were burned thanks to a battle between government armies and bandit forces. It was renovated into a new business street in 2011.
Today, Xinglong Street is a good place to go if you long for the feel of its history. A river winds along it with the street with bridges crossing over and tress shadowing. In Xinglong Street and streets nearby, you can find couples of shops selling homemade food most local people are proud of. Zongzi, or wrapped rice dumplings, are the most famous.
According to the recipe, Zongzi makers choose the best ingredients possible and have them cooked in a delicate process to guarantee a unique flavor. Some people from other cities including Hongkong and Macao come a long way to try the Daojiao treat. Meatballs are also among the favored foods in Daojiao Town. Also you can find that the old people here are extremely fond of Cantonese Opera. There are many opera clubs dispersed along the streets for retired people to listen to songs and practice. Xinglong Street is steeped in history and culture, however, the feel has been fading away over time. If you don’t read anything before you come, it might appear to be just a common old street.
On the outskirts of town, there is an awesome place to go. It’s called Yuehui Garden. It claims to be the largest classical Chinese private garden in China, covering 50 hectares of land. Inside the garden, it has the biggest brick sculpture wall in the country, which cost over 100 men’s labor and two year’s time to finish. You can also find China’s longest corridor here (3,200 meters).
Despite being the biggest and the longest, the garden itself is a very creative design. It combines nearly all the typical elements from Lingnan culture and architecture. You can see odd stone museums, lotus ponds, winding rivers, wooden corridors, and pavilions of different shapes. It’s an all-in-one package. It would be a very refreshing experience for culture exploration and appreciation.
If you go from Dongguan Bus Station in Wanjiang, take 602, it will take you through Daojiao Town and to its final stop is at Yuehui Garden. If you take a taxi, the ride takes 30 minutes from Nancheng.
Location: West Dongguan
Area: 54 sq. kilometers
Journey Time: About 30 minutes from Nancheng
Local Attractions: Xinglong Street, Zongzi, Meatballs, Yuehui Garden, Cantonese Opera