Huangling sets expectations high with its claim to be "the most beautiful countryside in China" plastered across its promotional material. Such a big statement may rouse the skeptics, but it's better to leave those quibbles at the cable car door and simply enjoy the view.
The village has been turned into a living museum and its owner the Wuyuan Countryside Development Company does not pretend otherwise. The private company's largest shareholder Wu Xiangyang saw the location's potential as a tourism attraction 18 years ago. At that stage, there were less than 600 people living in rundown houses.
"Most people want to go outside (the village) to work so few people were left in the village. If we waited another 5 to 10 years, it would have soon vanished," Wu says.
The company has poured large sums into repairing and restoring the Hui-style houses known for their solid white walls (residents believed a dark room was more peaceful) and black-tiled roofs.