Luocheng: Is This The World’s Best Teahouse Town?

Luocheng ( the ultimate teahouse town)

Location: Sichuan Province, China, in the vicinity of Leshan (2-3 hours)

Luocheng boat shaped village teahouses
Luocheng Teahouse town famous for its boathouse architecture

The ancient town of Luocheng is a gem for those looking for traditional teahouse culture. Luocheng is renowned for its boat architecture: the two sides of its main street narrow down at both ends and widen gradually towards the middle, thus creating the oval shape of a boat.

Luocheng boat shaped village teahouses
Luocheng Teahouse Town

Straddling the street and forming, as it were, the prow to complete the boat- like appearance of the town, stands a beautifully restored theatre. It is covered in traditional grey tiles and flamboyantly decorated with historic scenes and smiling Buddhas.

Luocheng boat shaped village teahouses
Tea drinkers in Luocheng

However, the absolute highlight of Luocheng is the swell of teahouses lining the main street, sheltered by the overhanging wooden porticos of the buildings. Overlooking this sea of bamboo tables and chairs, occupied by querulous old men in faded Mao jackets, arguing over heated games of cards or Mah-jong, while smoking small stubby pipes carved out of roots, visitors can truly imagine themselves in a time warp.

Luocheng boat shaped village teahouses
Teahouse Luocheng

Joining the regulars over a cup of tea, you can really get an impression of what village life must have been like in the old days. The whole place still oozes authenticity and atmosphere; two elements that are often lacking in many of China’s more popular historical places. In fact, with the exception of the stray backpacker, you are unlikely to meet many fellow-travellers while exploring the streets of this sleepy town. Luocheng is as yet firmly off the tour group circuit.

Luocheng boat shaped village teahouses

How long this tranquillity will last, depends on whether access to the village will be improved. For the moment, it takes over 3 hours to cover the 60 kilometres that separate Luocheng from Leshan; of those, the first twenty seven are on a motorway.

Luocheng boat shaped village teahouses

After that, it is a bone shattering up and down bounce, along what must be one of the worst roads in China (it has probably improved by now), through some very pretty rural countryside. Leshan itself, by the way, has a fantastic teahouse in one of the old watchtowers by the river.

Luocheng boat shaped village teahouses
Luocheng Teahouse Town

On the way back from Luocheng, you can hop off the bus and have a look at the villages around Wu Tong Qiao, or the ‘Five Bridges’, about half way between Leshan and Loucheng. The river scenery is pretty around here and plenty of authentic tea drinking can be done in open-air teahouses, in the shade of gnarled ancient trees.

a street Luocheng boat shaped village


Luocheng: Bus leave regularly for Luocheng from Leshan’s Lian Xin bus station; to get there, take bus number 1 from the centre or a taxi (10 Yuan). It takes about 3 hours, as the last part of the journey is on a bumpy unpaved road (might have improved). The return bus took a different route on a better road. If you decide to jump off at Wu Tong Qiao and want to return to Leshan, you can flag down any Leshan-bound bus from the junction by the motorway. To get to Leshan from Chengdu, there are regular buses from Chengdu’s Xinnanmen bus station next to the Traffic Hotel, throughout the day.

Luocheng boat shaped village locals in the  teahouses
a local in Luocheng boat shaped village at a teahouse
Luocheng Resident


Author: Adam

My name is Adam. I have a degree in Chinese History from SOAS and a masters in International Politics focused on China from the same university. I have travelled around China 9 times and since 2000 I have travelled every year for two months. I guess I kind of like the place!

6 thoughts on “Luocheng: Is This The World’s Best Teahouse Town?”

  1. Hi
    An update on how to get to Luocheng , accidentally

    I was heading to the Xiannanmen bus station, on bus number 28 and I missed the stop so I decided what the hell , I went to the end of the line

    I finished up at Shi Yang Chang bus station.

    I decided to have a look at what buses went where and there was Loucheng , and the next bus was at 8.20 and it was 8.00
    There were 3 buses ,820 , 920 , and 12.20 I believe
    I took the 820 and arrived in Luocheng at 11.45 , direct
    for 67 y
    Buses going back to Chengdu were at 12.30, 1.30 2.30 so I bought a ticket for the 2.30

    The road was excellent and you passed through some beautiful areas the closer you got
    It was lunch time and the old part (the tea house street ) of town was humming
    What a fabulous place , some might say a short step back in time .
    Tea drinking ,majhong and card playing
    A community of mostly old folks enjoying themselves
    From their reactions to me they are obviously still off the Nikon trail
    Tobacco is big there and a lot of the card players were smoking these monster cigars
    Not another white face to be seen and no bazookas (nikon super cameras)
    The only chinese tourists I encountered , they invited me to share tea with them , were from Leshan.
    It was a brilliant 2 hours I spent walking around the area

    Also of interest it is 44 km to theJiayang steam train which I have previously seen

    Certainly an excellent day trip from Chengdu and for me far more interesting than thos disneyfied ”ancient towns ”


  2. Hi thanks for the info.
    I’d love to go back there. It is good news that you can get there from Chengdu without having to go through Leshan

  3. Hi there – just want to thank you for this blog post. I travelled there with my cousins after reading about it and we were absolutely charmed.

    We took the morning bus from Leshan and spent a morning there, strolled around, had lunch and tea before returning to Chengdu. Luocheng turned out to be the highlight of our Chengdu-Leshan trip in Oct 2017. It is still fairly light on tourists, mostly locals, although it looks like they are gearing up for more business.

    Luocheng is bigger than I expected and there are new constructions which look like guesthouses. Boat-Shaped Alley looks like it received a bit of a facelift, there are now some English signs but the old folks still come along en masse to sip tea, gossip and play cards.

    To pass on the favour, I would like to share some updates on travel info. We travelled here from Leshan on public bus from Lianyun Bus Terminal (this is the smaller local station). It departs roughly every 25 minutes between 06:40-18:00. The journey takes about 1.5 hours and tickets are RMB16 each.

    From Leshan, we travelled back to Chengdu on the direct bus to Shiyang Bus Terminal. There are three departures: 10:30, 12:30 and 14:30. Journey takes about 3 hours and tickets are RMB50 each.

    Happy travels!

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