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Guizhou 11 Day Minority Festival Tour

Highlights:

  • Guizhou province is rich with China’s ethnic minority groups, and on this tour you’ll get to explore this exciting diversity by wandering about the villages of the Miao and Dong minority groups. Straight out of National Geographic, these villages are largely untouched by the modern world
  • While at the villages you will meet with local families, explore the charming architecture of the towns, and learn in-depth about the Miao and Dong culture and tradition
  • You will get to experience in person the Sister Rice Festival. The festival is the Miao people's busiest time of the year, and it is an opportunity for Miao youth living along the middle reaches of the Qingjiang River to choose their mates. During the festival, Miao people eat "Sister Rice, " dress up, dance, watch bullfights, compete in a canoeing contest and sing

(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

Detailed itinerary:

Day 1 arrive in Guiyang

You will fly into Guiyang, and your English-speaking guide will meet you outside he baggage claim area. You will then be taken to your hotel. Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, is located in the southwest of China, on the eastern side of the Yungui Plateau. It is said that in ancient times, Guiyang was surrounded by dense bamboo groves and was famous for producing a musical instrument known as a Zhu. Hence the city is known also as Zhu.

After you arrive our first point of interest will be the Jiaxiu Tower. A landmark of Guiyang is Jiaxiu Tower, also called the First Scholar's Tower. It is situated on Fuyu Bridge over the Nanming River. Originally built in 1598 in the Ming times, the tower is magnificent and unique, and of great culture significance in Guiyang. In ancient times, many intellectuals studied very hard for the scholarly honor or official rank in feudal China. In order to encourage them, the local majesty ordered a tower be built and conferred on it the name of Jiaxiu. The name Jiaxiu literally means getting the very best in imperial examinations. Thereafter, Guizhou was honored successively by three number one scholars as expected. Rumors say that two of the three lived nearby the Nanming River.

We’ll then go up the winding path to the Hongfu Temple up the hill. This temple is one of the most famous Buddhism temples in Guizhou province, which is first built in the year 1672. On the way to the temple, up in the sharp cliffs, stone inscriptions can be seen here and there. Among them, the most notable one is the 6.2-meter-high and 3.7-meter-wide Chinese character of "Tiger", which was written by a man called Zhao Dechang in the year 1860. Its calligraphy is skillful and unique and is of high history value. Up on the top of the mountain, there is a pavilion, which overlooks the whole city. Down at the foot of the mountain, lies the mirror-like lake of Qianling. On its bank, among the trees, stands a memorial for the martyrs who died during the war of liberation of Guizhou Province.

We’ll then check into your hotel, and you’ll have the rest of the day to rest and relax.

Day 2 Guiyang-Kaili (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we will drive to Kaili, a region of Guizhou where 25% of the Miao ethnic group live. Here we will explore the Miao ethinc minority villages. The Miao ethnic group is both mysterious and exciting. The Miao people are identified by their dialect, dress, location and other customs. In dress there are Long Skirt Miao, Short Skirt Miao, Black Miao, Flowery Miao and Long Horned Miao. By location there are River Miao and Mountain Miao. The villagers in Langde wear long skirts, hence they are "Long Skirt Miao". The Miao style houses "Diaojiaolou" and its featured and creative festivals will make you spellbound.

We will take part in the Miao people’s daily life by visiting with a few local families, in addition to other activities. The following is a list of activities and the places we will visit today in Kaili:

Qingman Miao Village - Located about 14 miles to the southwest of Kaili, Qingman Miao Village is built along the mountain contours. Surrounded by green mountains and rivers, it is the sweet home to over 300 households and 1,600 Miao people. The unique wooden stilt houses put up range upon range are indeed a splendid scene to see!

Paper making in Shiqiao Miao Village - Shiqiao paper is smooth, white, and difficult of bursting. It is said that the paper making in Shiqiao Miao Village has a history of over 1,000 years. By using the Han Chinese people's experience, the local Miao people use high-quality spring water, tree roots and bark to make papers. Their craft of papermaking is regarded as a “live fossil”. Come to Shiqiao, you'll have a chance to witness how they make papers.

Boji Miao Village - Shaped like a dustpan, Boji Miao Village is located in Danzhai County where the land is beautiful and fertile. Over 100 households live here generation after generation. The life in this old village is quite serene and bucolic.

We’ll have a dinner of traditional Miao cuisine, sour soup fish in hotpot.

Day 3 Kaili-Shidong-Zhenyuan (B, L, D)

In the morning, we’ll head to the Matang Village, whose inhabitants are part of the Gejia minority group. Officially the Gejia (alternatively, Ge Jia) are classified as a subgroup of the Miao ethnic minority, but this is a classification that the Gejia resent, claiming instead that they are a unique ethnic minority in their own right, with their own unique language and social customs, including their own unique dress. The Gejia people also insist that they are the descendants of Houyi, the God of the Arrow. Thus they adore bow and arrow.

Whatever the true status of their identity, it seems that little is really known about the Gejia, apart from the fact that they specialize in batik, and that they, not unlike the various other ethnic minorities in the region, are fond of colorful clothing, which colorful clothing includes everyday attire as well as festival costumes. Living in the village are over 100 Gejia households. There are over 50,000 Gejia people across the country and about 20,000 people live in the area linking Kaili and Huangping County. The Gejia people are good at making batik. Gejia girls begin to learn the art of batik at a very tender age – as young as 7–8 years old – and become adept at it by the time they reach adulthood.

After lunch, we will proceed to Zhenyuan, a tranquil ancient town hidden in east Guizhou, surrounded by mountains and rivers. Miao People are the main inhabitants of Zhenyuan.

Zhenyuan has long been an ancient town of the Miao people. Its long history endows the town with many rich and generous cultural relics, making it much like a historic garden. The town is small, but greets you with more than 160 scenic spots including caves, palaces, pavilions, temples and rivers with their unique architecture, exquisite engravings and marvelous natural landscape. Located at the edge of Yunnan-Guizhou plateau, Zhenyuan is sheltered by the mountains. It has been a land-and-water transportation center since early times. In 202 BC, the town became a county instituted by Han Gaozu, Emperor Liu Bang, and then in 1956 - the capital of southeast Guizhou Autonomous Prefecture. Cut through by the Wuyang River, the town is divided into two parts: south 'Wei City' and north 'Fu City', which forms a water town. Hence it is well-reputed as the 'Oriental Venice'.

In Zhenyuan we will take a pleasant cruise on the Wuyang River to appreciate the gorgeous mountain scenery that surrounds us. We’ll spend the night in Zhenyuan.

Day 4 Zhenyuan-Shidong-Kaili (B, L, D)

In the morning our first point of interest will be Qinglong (Black Dragon) Cave.Black Dragon Cave is in fact an ancient temple complex located on Zhonghe Mountain to the east of Zhenyuan Ancient Town, and is the centerpiece of the all ancient monuments in Zhenyuan. Black Dragon Cave Temple as it is also known includes single and multi-storied pavilions, temples, shrines, and palaces. Surviving a couple of wars, the Black Dragon Cave was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and its current shape is the result of several renovations.

With many separate buildings, the Black Dragon Cave encompasses Zhusheng Qiao (Zhusheng Bridge), Zhongyuan Temple, Ziyang Shuyuan (academy of classical learning), Yuhuang Ge (Jade Emperor Pavilion), Longevity Palace, Xianglu Yan. Among the ancient complexes of Zhenyuan, the Black Dragon Cave though very close to the town has retained its natural flavor.

We’ll then explore the old town of Zhenyuan, before taking a coach to Shidong, , a small Miao village situated on the banks of the Qingshui River. You will see craftsmen making silver ornaments, of which this village is known for. You’ll then be taken to the opening ceremony of Sisters' Meal Festival (aka Sister Rice Festival). Known as the oldest Oriental Valentine's Day, the Sister Rice Festival in Taijiang County of Guizhou Province was once a local affair which provided opportunities for Miao lads and girls to meet and begin their courtship. It attracts thousands of natives who have gathered from many miles around, and has now become one of the most important tourist attractions in China. It provides a dazzling display of local dress, and a lot of entertainment including clamor of drums, firecrackers, canoeing contest, bullfighting, horse racing, singing and dancing competitions and even beauty contests.

After the festivities, we’ll take a coach back to Kaili, where we’ll spend the night.

Day 5 Kaili-Paiyang-Xijiang (B, L, D)

In the morning take we’ll take 1 hour's coach to Paiyang to start our hiking trip. En route, we’ll explore a silversmith village and a Miao village by visiting with the local families and learning about their daily routine. You’ll marvel at the villages terraced paddy fields (mountain hiking 12km).

In the afternoon we’ll arrive at Xijiang, the largest Miao village. You will be greeted into the village by drinking the block way wine. Xijiang Miao Village sits on a mountain slope, with wood buildings climbing to the mountain top. There are around 1000 wood houses; therefore the village is nicknamed as "One Thousand household Miao Village". All the buildings remain in ancient Ming and Qing dynasties style.The ancient buildings surrounded by lush mountains appear to belong to a time long past. The scenery is especially charming in early morning when the village and the surrounding mountains are shrouded in mist.

You’ll be amazed at the elegant and glittering silver ornaments worn by Miao females for holidays. Silver ornaments are major components of festival dressing-up of Miao girls and women in the southeast Guizhou region, particularly in the village of Xijiang. Once in festivals, they will decorate their heads, necks, hands and backs with various silver ornaments such as silver chaplet, silver bracelet, silver ox horn and silver earring. The village is also a center for grand Miao festivals and celebrations in the area. Miao people from the nearby villages gather at Xijiang for festival celebrations. Famous festivals include the Lusheng Festival, the Miao New Year, and the harvest celebration, during which the Miao people worship their ancestors and celebrate the autumn harvest. Songs and dance are major components of these festivals.

After an evening cultural performance, we’ll hike in the village to explore more. Dinner will be at with the village chief’s family.

Day 6 Xijiang-Nanhua-Leishan (B, L, D)

Today we’ll start our hiking via the mountainous zigzagging path and sandstone country road. En route, we’ll pay a visit to a long-skirt Miao village. We’ll then continue our trek to the Miao village of Lanhua, another beautiful village, and a Christian Church can still be seen here.

Our day will conclude with a visit to a special pottery-making village, where you will learn how the Miao have perfected this spectacular art form. We’ll spend the night in the town of Leishan.

Day 7 Leishan-Rongjiang (B, L, D)

Today's program starts from the visit to Datang short-skirt Miao village. Datang Miao Village stands out from other Miao villages in the region because of the distinctive style of dress worn by Miao females in the village. All the females in Datang Miao Village wear extremely short skirts, as short as 10 centimeters long (make that "short"!) in some instances. The most amazing thing about this is that the females of Datang Miao Village wear this extremely short skirt all year round, even in freezing winter. While the sight of "miniskirts" is not unusual for Westerners – at least not during the summer – for many Chinese people of varying ethnic origin, it takes some time getting used to, as it contrasts sharply with the more staid, mainstream Chinese practice of modesty – perhaps exaggerated modesty."

In the afternoon we’ll arrive at the Chejiang Dong village. Chejiang Dong people’s village is situated alongside a river near Rongjiang County. It is one of the largest Dong people’s village in area, exceptionally picturesque-scenic and peaceful. The big Banyan Tree in the village was planted 300 years ago. The Dong ethnic minority lives primarily in the border regions between Guizhou, Hunan and Hubei Provinces, and it was during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), that this minority separated from the mixed minority 'Bai Yue', naming themselves Dong. The Dong people work on agriculture, forestry and the industrial arts. The women are adept at spinning and embroidering and on the brocade. The staple food of the Dong ethnic minority is rice, millet, corn, wheat sorghum and glutinous rice. Oil tea is their favorite drink, which can also be their breakfast, whose ingredients include peanuts, sesame, soybean, tea leaves, and so on.

We’ll stay overnight in the nearby town of Rongjiang.

Day 8 Rongjiang-Zhaoxing (B, L, D)

After breakfast we will make our way to Zhaoxing and the Basha Miao Village Zhaoxing is home to some of the largest villages in Guizhou. Basha is a very special and old Miao ethnic village. The villagers still practice their unique traditions dating back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). Basha Village is almost untouched by China’s rapid modernization. Residents there still live in their wooden houses, practice centuries-old customs and have their own unique beliefs. Basha is a relatively big village with 2,140 residents, but they rarely connect with the outside world. They live in their community and lead a self-sufficient life in their mountainous surroundings.

Then we will learn more about the Dong minority ethnic group at the Dong People Village, which is also in Zhaoxing. Containg over 800 households, the population of the village is 4000 people. There are five sections which make up the village, namely ren (meaning benevolence), yi (meaning justice), li (meaning courtesy), zhi (meaning wisdom) and xin (meaning faith). One clan lives in every section, and every clan has built its own drum tower. A street runs from east to west in the village. The houses are typical Dong dwellings with stilts and roofs of black tiles. The features of the Dong architecture are also demonstrated in the five wooden drum towers, the four magnificent wooden roofed flower bridges and five performance stages.

We will stay in an inn in the village, and you can spend your night further exploring the village.

Day 9 Zhaoxing (B, L, D)

Today we’ll start our hiking via a winding mountainous path, where we will soon arrive at the Tang’an Dong village. The village is renowned as the “most primitive Dong Village" in China. The village is 5 km (3 miles) from the Zhaoxing Village. The country road stretches to the village, which is located on a mountainside and is surrounded by paddy field and lush greens. There are about 800 people and 160 households in the village. The village has a long history, though it hasn’t got any written records of its history. There is a village gate, drum tower, drama tower, ancient graveyard, ancient well, and water-powered roller for grinding grain, barns and the pit to worship the female ancestors of Dong people. There are also ancient stone paths and wood houses in the village. All of these make it a perfect place for people to return to nature.

We’ll continue our trek for about 2 hours until we come to the Dong village of Jitang. After exploring that village, we’ll be treated to a choral performance of traditional Dong songs performed by the villagers. We’ll stay overnight at the village.

Day 10 Zhaoxing-Sanjiang (B, L, D)

Today we will drive to Sanjiang, and on the way we will visit the Diping Wind and Rain Bridge. A Wind and Rain Bridge is the symbolized architecture of the Dong minority people. The wind and rain bridge in Diping is the largest of its kind in Guizhou Province, where China's biggest Dong community lives. The bridge is over 50 meters long and it was first built in 1894 during the Qing Dynasty over 100 years ago.

It's a pure wooden architecture made up of pillars, purlins and balusters of different sizes and shapes. The body of the bridge is divided to three tiers, the largest one in the middle take the shape of a traditional Chinese drum tower. The pilasters and eaves of the bridge are engraved with flowers and patterns and are quite magnificent.

We’ll resume our drive until we arrive at the Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge. It was built in 1916, and it is the best one among the wind and rain bridges in Dong stockade villages. At present, it is the largest wind and rain bridge. We will spend the night at an inn in Sanjiang, and you can spend the evening at your own leisure exploring the Dong villages nearby.

Day 11 Sanjiang-Guiyang (B)

After an early morning breakfast, we will drive back to our starting point at Guiyang where you will be taken to the airport. You will depart for your next destination, ending your tour with us.


        Theresa Strasser, USA:

We would love to have more time to see more of Guizhou, the famous caves, and waterfalls, and some of the historical routes of the Long March, etc. Well, may be next time. I personally would like to thank you for arranging such a wonderful trip for our family. Your guides, and driver did such a good job to look after our needs, and so knowledgeable about local culture, folklores, and geographic/ historical significance of each town, and places we have visited. We felt safe and had the freedom to explore, and learn along the way. It is truly one of the best trips we ever had. And we had traveled to a few places around the world.