Meizhou (梅州; Mòi-chû in Hakka, Méizhōu in Mandarin) is a city of about a million in Guangdong. Meizhou is honored with the titles of Hometown of Culture, and Hometown of the Overseas Hakka Chinese.
The name Meizhou comes from the Mei River and the Chinese name for the plum blossom (梅; méi). Meizhou was established as the prefecture of Jingzhou during the Southern Han (917-971). It has a population of 4.3 million (2010), with about a million in the urban area.
Because of its mountainous location, Meizhou has numerous natural scenic areas and good air quality. Many visitors come to the Yannanfei Tea Garden to climb the mountain.
Hakka folk music is also a feature of the area. The songs sing of the Hakka people, their passion for their hometown, and of love.
The second closest airport is at Shantou which is an hour and a half away by car, and is served by more international flights to other Asian countries.
It is a 5 hour journey by bus from Shenzhen. Getting to the correct bus station is the problem. Nevertheless you can get buses at Zhao Por Lu (literally grassy field road, ¥30).
The long distance bus from Meizhou to Hong Kong, which happens to stop at the border crossing in Shenzhen which is not that far from HK costs ¥100. The bus makes the trip in about 4 hours but with the border cross at two points each way it takes just about 6 hours on the dot. Rail is about the same but twice the price but if you get boogered sitting in the last row of the bus behind the reclining seats you will regret it. Plus there are no facilities on the bus and it only stops once on the journey.
Many private cars with driver will approach you for inexpensive travel within Meizhou and surrounding areas.
There are also three wheeled bicycles that are for hire. Usually for about ¥5-6 they will take you about two miles or so. They will try to get more so set the price beforehand. Taxis are a little bit more but not outrageous at all. Sometimes a private motorcycle will be waiting around on a street corner and they are for hire too for the adventurous. Traffic in Meizhou is a mind boggler and is just plain reckless. They will drive anywhere even the sidewalk and the wrong way on the streets and then mix the bicycles.
The local language is Hakka, which is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, and only slightly with Cantonese. Nevertheless, most locals are trilingual in Hakka, Cantonese and Mandarin. The dialect spoken in Meixian is often considered to be the prestige dialect of Hakka, so this makes it a good place for those interested in learning the language.
- 1 Jiaying University.
- 2 Hakka Land (Hakka Park Scenic Spot, 客天下景区), Dongsheng Village, Sanjiao Town, Meijiang District (梅江区三角镇东升村) (Bus Routes 4, 15, and 25), ☏ . 08:00-17:30.
- 3 Hakka Museum of China (中国客家博物馆), No. 2 Dongshan Avenue, Meijiang District (梅江区东山大道2号) (Catch bus nos. 1 or 6 and get off at Hakka Park 客家公园.), ☏ . 09:00-17:30 Tu-Su (Closed on Mondays). Free.
- 4 Lingguang Temple (灵光寺), Yinna Village, Yanyang Town, Meixian District (梅县区雁洋镇阴那村) (Catch bus nos. 17, 41 or 46 to Ye Jianying Memorial Park 剑英纪念公园, then transfer to bus no. 39 to get to the destination.), ☏ . Open 24 hours. ¥40.
- 5 Meixian District Museum (梅县区博物馆), 7 Fudong Er Lu, Xincheng, Meixian District (梅县区新城府东二路七号), ☏ .
- 6 Meizhou Confucian Temple (梅州学宫), Lingfeng Road West, Meijiang District (梅江区凌风西路).
- 7 Temple of the Thousand Buddha Pagoda (千佛塔寺; Qianfotasi), Lianhua Hill Summit, Dongyan, Jinshan Sub-District, Meijiang District (梅江区金山街道东岩莲花山顶) (Bus routes 12, 13, 16, and 20), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 07:00-18:00. Free.
- 8 Yannanfei Tea Garden (Yearning Tea Plantation, 雁南飞茶田), Yanyang Town, Meixian District (梅县区雁洋镇) (Catch bus no. 17 from the bus stop at the Jiaying University West Gate 嘉大西校门. The bus terminates just outside the Yannanfei Tea Garden.), ☏ , ✉ Yearning@yearning.cn. ¥80 for adults, ¥0-50 for children depending on height.
- 9 Longguizhai Waterfall (龙归寨瀑布 Lóngguīzhài Pùbù), Tangkeng Town, Fengshun County 丰顺县汤坑镇. A roaring waterfall in rural Meizhou. ¥50.
During the period after August or September, a sea of pomelos can be seen, especially in village orchards. Salt baked chicken (盐焗鸡) is one of the most well-known Hakka dishes, which can also be bought in many other cities in China. Another local dish is Yong tau foo (酿豆腐), tofu stuffed with meat, of which it is said that when Hakka people first came to the south, there was no wheat flour to make dumplings so they used tofu instead. They put meat and some other ingredients into the tofu to create a special taste. This recipe was handed down and became a feature of Hakka cuisine. Pickled mustard greens with pork (梅菜扣肉) is a delicious local dish—try to get some meat and some greens together in each bite. Other foods including preserved pork and ginger candies are also popular locally.
This is Hakka country and generally speaking the bill of fare for the general public is rice, with noodles and congee popular too, especially for breakfast. In Meixian the typical breakfast is yammien (腌面, yānmiàn), a bowl of noodles served with a bowl of goji leaf and pork soup. The food tends to be a bit bland and stodgy. There aren't many egg rolls per se, but try fugien (腐卷, fǔjuǎn), tofu skin rolls stuffed with meat. There is dim sum to a point. As for eating street food, no stomach issues so be a little adventurous.
The bigger and better restaurants and hotels have a wider spectrum. Tofu from street vendors is quite good and sort of a distant cousin to scrambled eggs. There are plenty of places doing rice instead of noodles and although that is not much of a stretch it does help when you are noodled out. Fried rice is not the norm, usually it is a bowl of white rice with bowls of other stuff. Some of it, as at the Happy Restaurant on Ding Min Lu is quite tasty although the place looks like a warehouse instead of an eatery. The pork stuffed tofu is quite good but the pigs legs are not for the faint of heart.
- 1 Puxing Youth Hostel (朴行青年旅舍), 17 Meixing Road, Jiangbei, Meijiang District (梅江区江北梅兴路17号), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. ¥55 for a dorm bed, ¥81-¥130 for a room.
- 2 Howard Johnson Changsheng Plaza Meizhou (梅州昌盛豪生大酒店), 8 Fuqian Avenue, Meixian District (梅县区区府前大道8号), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. From ¥448.
Also a transit point to Dabu, another Hakka area from where it's a hop to Yongding (by bus Y35), then a local bus Y11 to Hukeng Town (or if you miss the late afternoon bus, by taxi Y100), the heart of the Tulou trails.