Xiamen urban village Zeng Cuo An goes from zero to hero

Updated: 22 Sep 2012
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Zeng Cuo An
Once a small fishing village in the southeast of Xiamen Island, Zeng Cuo An, an urban village of Xiamen, has been developed into a famous B&B village and a paradise for artistic people from across China in just a few years.

The rapid development of this small village has attracted a lot of attention. What has made the village grow so fast? 

Zeng Cuo An has been a traditional fishing village since the settlement of the Zeng ancestors long ago. For the villagers, lives were spent toiling out in the sunshine and on the ocean, in fishing boats and fields. The main trunk road of the village is too narrow to fit two cars. Nevertheless, the village’s winding and roads preserve the traditional customs of a fishing village.

"The cultures of the fishing village are well preserved and the original Minnan ocean elements can be found wherever you go in Zeng Cuo An. That’s why people find it so attractive”, said the general manager of a travel agency.
Zeng Cuo An


In 1998, an artist named Chen Wenling settled in the village, which marked the turning point for the community. Soon after that, the simple atmosphere and relaxed environment of the village attracted a large number of artists. By the end of 2003, more than twenty sculpture studios had sprung up in the village, along with studios of unknown painters, film makers and musicians.

Although most of these artists have moved out because of the commercialization of the village in recent years, we can still see the graffiti they left on the walls. “They pumped artistic blood into this small fishing village, and Zeng Cuo An is not just a fishing village any more”, said an insider.
Zeng Cuo An


In 2001, Li Xiang was among the first wave of students to move in to the Zeng Cuo An Student Apartment of Xiamen University. The student apartment is about ten minutes walk from Zeng Cuo An, and more and more students were attracted by the village’s gentle pace of living.

"With the arrival of college students, some villagers refitted their own houses and rented them to the students for 200-300 yuan per month”, said Li. The rooms they rented were equipped with water heaters, air conditioners, televisions and internet connections. Li moved out of the student apartment soon and started his new life in Zeng Cuo An. Over the years, more and more college students have moved to the small village.

The settlement of college students improved the overall cultural literacy of this village, as most of the native residents were not very well educated. As well as studying, some students even ran their own stores in the village. “Money doesn’t mean everything for the students. It’s the life style that matters”, said a villager.
Zeng Cuo An

Literary Youths

Dreamer’s House was among the first wave of B&B’s opened in Zeng Cuo An. The owner of the Dreamer House, Lei, is a musician who yearned for a life of freedom and music. Every month, they put on four live concerts in the hotel, as customers of Dreamer’s House tend to be music lovers.

Every store owner here has his or her own dream, and they have their own lifestyles, said Lei. The owner of the “Qingtianjian”, one of the most famous ice cream stores in the village, which only opens on sunny days.

Many new businesses have opened in Zeng Cuo An over the past few years, and there are now a total of 180 B&B’s in the village. “The B&B’s in Zeng Cuo An are very different to ordinary hotels, as almost every B&B here has its own unique culture and traditions. Today, Zeng Cuo An is honored as “the most literacy urban village in China” by netizens.
Zeng Cuo An
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Comments Area ( Total Comments: 3 )
huayinamoy Commented on 31 May 2013
Welcome to Disneyland...
oyane Commented on 23 Oct 2012
Now many artists and students can not afford the rent anymore. It became a commercial center with shops/bars/hostels of the same style.
petebeatstreet Commented on 22 Sep 2012
It was pleasant and sleepy in 2009, pleasant in 2010, nice in 2011, and a commercial cut-and-paste coffee shop (unusual?) nightmare now.