The Kaiping Diaolou (碉樓) are fortified multi-storey towers which were constructed in the Kaiping area from the early Qing Dynasty, reaching a peak in the 1920s and 1930s, when there were more than three thousand of these structures. Today, approximately 1,800 diaolou are still standing. The diaolou served two purposes: housing and protecting against forays by bandits. The Kaiping diaolou and villages were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2007.
Kaiping has traditionally been a region of major emigration abroad, and a melting pot of ideas and trends brought back by overseas Chinese made good. As a consequence, several watchtowers incorporate architectural features from China and the West.
Ruishi Diaolou, located behind Jinjiangli Village, Lianggang Township. Constructed in 1921, it has nine floors and is the highest diaolou at Kaiping. It features a Byzantine style roof and a Roman dome.
The diaolou cluster spread across the three villages of Anhe li, He'an li and Yong'an li has 15 diaolou and houses
Li Garden, in Beiyi Xiang, was constructed in 1936 by Mr. Xie Weili, a Chinese emigrant to the United States.
Fangshi Denglou - Built in 1920 after contributions from villagers, this denglou is five storeys high. It is referred to as the "Light Tower" because it had an enormous searchlight as bright as the beam of a lighthouse.
Bianchouzhu Lou (The Leaning Tower), located in Nanxing Village was constructed in 1903. It has seven floors.
The "Southern Diaolou" located on the riverbank, which was known for seven local soldiers by the surname 司徒 who defended it from the Japanese.
Kaiping was a major source of emigrants at the turn of the 20th century. As a result, a large number of early Chinese Canadian and Chinese American communities had people who originated from Kaiping and its neighboring counties of Taishan, Enping and Xinhui. It is said that there are more Kaipingnese people living abroad today than there are Kaipingnese in Kaiping.