Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images
Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images

You Can Visit This Abandoned, Ivy-Covered Town in China for Just 50 Cents

Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images
Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images

Houtouwan, a once-thriving Chinese fishing village located about 40 miles southeast of Shanghai, is now empty and eerily overgrown with ivy. Well, not entirely empty—the abandoned town has become a popular tourist destination since it was "rediscovered" by travelers in 2015, as Travel+Leisure reports.

Located on Shengshan, one of 394 islands that make up the Shengsi archipelago, the town was home to 2000 people in the '90s. However, when villagers could no longer compete with commercial fishing operations in Shanghai, they picked up and moved to the mainland in search of better opportunities. Some left all of their furniture and belongings behind, which can still be seen if you peer inside some of the abandoned homes.

Only a few people still live in the village, including tour guides ready to cater to curious tourists who find themselves captivated by the half-ruined buildings blanketed in plants and vines. "It feels like this place belonged to nature from the very beginning, and the old invaders finally left, and nature finally made it back," Huang Dan, a recent visitor to the town, told the Associated Press.

Houtouwan village
Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty Images

Last year, a tourist entry fee of 50 yen (about 50 cents) was enacted in the town. The destination is popular among hikers and has a dirt path that winds through the village and up the hill. (Emphasis on "uphill": It's a two-hour hike, so be sure to bring good walking shoes.)

According to National Geographic, the journey from mainland China to the town of Houtouwan takes about five hours by bus and ferry, and it's easy to get lost. (A videographer and photographer spent 36 hours trying to get there because they couldn't find the right ferries or connections.) Per the magazine's directions:

From Shanghai, you can go to the Nanpu Bridge Bus Station and take a bus and ferry ride to Shengshan Island or to Gouqi Island, which is connected to Shengshan via bridge. That commute alone takes about four hours. From there, you can take a taxi to Houtouwan and hike through the village and the surrounding area. When you see a big temple, you're getting close.

As for whether any ghosts inhabit this ghost town, there isn't much to fear. One longtime resident told the AP, "I've lived in this world for such a long time, and have never met one."

[h/t Travel+Leisure]

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The Best (and Worst) States for Summer Road Trips
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iStock

As we shared recently, the great American road trip is making a comeback, but some parts of the country are more suitable for hitting the open road than others. If you're interested in taking a road trip this summer but are stuck on figuring out the destination, WalletHub has got you covered: The financial advisory website analyzed factors like road conditions, gas prices, and concentration of activities to give you this map of the best states to explore by car.

Wyoming—home to the iconic road trip destination Yellowstone National Park—ranked No. 1 overall with a total score of 58.75 out of 100. It's followed by North Carolina in the No. 2 slot, Minnesota at No. 3, and Texas at No. 4. Coming in the last four slots are the three smallest states in America—Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut—and Hawaii, a state that's obviously difficult to reach by car.

But you shouldn't only look at the overall score if you're planning a road trip route: Some states that did poorly in one category excelled in others. California for example, came in 12th place overall, and ranked first when it came to activities and 41st in cost. So if you have an unlimited budget and want to fit as many fun stops into your vacation as possible, taking a trip up the West Coast may be the way to go. On the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi is a good place to travel if you're conscious of spending, ranking second in costs, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the quality of your trip, coming in 38th place for safety and 44th for activities.

Choosing the stops for your summer road trip is just the first step of the planning process. Once you have that covered, don't forget to pack these essentials.

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Netherlands Officials Want to Pay Residents to Bike to Work
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iStock

Thinking about relocating to the Netherlands? You might also want to bring a bike. Government officials are looking to compensate residents for helping solve their traffic congestion problem and they want businesses to pay residents to bike to work, as The Independent reports.

Owing to automobile logjams on roadways that keep drivers stuck in their cars and cost the economy billions of euros annually, Dutch deputy infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven recently told media that she's endorsing a program that would pay employees 19 cents for every kilometer (0.6 miles) they bike to work.

That doesn't sound like very much, but perhaps citizens who need to trek several miles each way would appreciate the cumulative boost in their weekly paychecks. For employers, the benefit would be a healthier workforce that might take fewer sick days and reduce parking needs.

Veldhoven says she also plans on designing a program that would assist employers in supplying workers with bicycles. The goal is to have 200,000 people opting for manual transportation over cars. If the program proceeds, it might find a receptive population. The Netherlands is already home to 22.5 million bikes, more than the 17.1 million people living there. In Amsterdam, a quarter of residents bike to work.

There's no timeline for implementing the pay-to-bike plan, but early trial studies indicate that the expense might not have to be a long-term prospect. Study subjects continued to bike to work even after the financial rewards stopped.

[h/t The Independent]

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