When you hear the phrase “ghost town,” you usually think of a dusty town of wooden buildings from the Wild West. While that is usually the case in the United States, China has entire ghost cities, built due to anticipation of people moving into urban centers. These cities have enormous apartment buildings, empty museums, and expensive architectural monuments that somehow were not put into use by the public - because no one ever moved there. These five ghost cities are most worth seeing in China:

Ghost Cities in China to Visit

1. Ordos, Inner Mongolia

This city is a modern-day ghost town. In the early 2000s, the Chinese government poured over 1 billion dollars into the construction of Kangbashi, a new urban center just outside of Ordos. Meant to house one million people, Kangbashi was intended to help Ordos become even more established as one of the main cities of Inner Mongolia. Yet loans went unpaid, investors bailed, and construction deadlines weren’t met, leaving the city near-uninhabited. When you take a and is complete with large, unfinished apartment complexes, storefronts, an unused mosque, and an empty library. Everything is built on a large scale, so few people or so live in this area that it is 98% uninhabited.

2. Chenggong, Yunnan Province

One of the largest ghost cities in Asia, Chenggong is located just south of the larger city of Kunming with a population of close to six and a half million people. It is largely uninhabited, even though government departments moved to the city in 2012 and a subway line to the city center was completed in 2013. Skyscrapers, luxury villas, schools, and even a stadium exist in this city - but the streets are dusty and the large, block apartment buildings are empty.

3. Changzhao, Jiansu

While four and a half million people live in Changzhou proper, no one lives in the newly-constructed Wujin district on the outskirts of the city. Unlike truly deserted cities such as Ordos, there are signs of life in the Wujin district, but the area still has a ways to go until it can be considered truly inhabited. Some apartment buildings are full, but most are completely empty, and the construction continues to sprawl outward at a rate greater than migration to the district. Right now, about 50% of Wujin is occupied.

4. Fengdu Ghost City, Chongqing Province

After the construction of Three Gorges Dam that began in 1994, the city of Fengdu was rebuilt higher up the mountainside, leaving a ghost city behind. Today, it serves as a tourist attraction: visitors can see shrines, temples and monasteries by taking a boat up the river and traveling by vehicle halfway up the mountain. The oldest building, Tianzi Palace, is over three hundred years old. This ghost city is quite different from China’s other, modern-day examples!

5. Rushan, Shandong Province

The city of Rushan is better described as a tourist town, rather than a ghost town, but this once-popular coastal town has sprawling blocks of uninhabited houses. People only come around Chinese New Year when they want to escape to the coast, but at all other times of year, the city has large deserted areas.

This article was written by Cathy Trainor.