9-Day Guizhou Minority Culture Tour and Li River Cruise

Highlights:

  • Explore the remote and charming villages of the Miao and Dong minority ethnic groups, which are largely untouched by the modern world
  • Experience the majestic beauty and rolling magnificence of the Longsheng Rice Terraces, which is widely considered the most amazing rice terrace in China
  • Take a cruise down the enchanting Li River, which will provide you some of the most gorgeous scenery of a lifetime. The Li River was just selected by National Geographic Magazine as one of the world’s “Ten top watery wonders”

(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.

In the afternoon, we will take a visit to Qianling Park. The park was named for the Qianling Mountain, which is the most famous mountain in southern Guizhou. As one of the noted attractions on the Guizhou plateau, it boasts clear water, green mountains, tranquil forests and old temples. Inside the park, trees verdantly grow and streams gurgle down into the valley. There is a "holy fountain" up the mountain whose water is so clean that local people consider it coming from the heaven. The flowing steams from the fountain and the mist surrounding the forest make it one of the greatest eight scenic spots in Guiyang. The lake of Qiangling lies at the foot of the mountain like a green pearl. Trees and pavilions are seen around the lake, which constitutes a peaceful and elegant atmosphere for you. More than 500 energetic and enchanting macaques live in the mountain in the park and this adds to the features of the park.

We will also 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.

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

After breakfast, we will drive (about 3 hours) 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.

Once we arrive, we’ll visit the village of Qingman, a quiet and serene village inhabited by the Folded and Silk Felt Miao, where we will visit with local families while learning about their culture and their daily life. We’ll then head to the village of Shiqiao to learn about Miao paper making, an important craft for the group. On the way there we’ll hike on a country road. 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”.

We’ll stay overnight at a hotel in Kaili.

Day 3 Kaili-Langde-Datang-Rongjiang (B, L, D)

A short drive along the Bala River will take us to the village of Langde. Langde is a beautiful place surrounded by green mountains and rivers. When you arrive, you will see the classical wooden stilt houses, winding mountain paths, the well-preserved and famed Wind and Rain Bridge, and delicate Miao clothes; you will hear the sweet songs floating in the valley and the babble of brooks meandering among mountains.

We’ll then continue our journey to the village of Datang. You will be greeted by its friendly villagers and drink the block way wines before entering the village. The silver ornaments that cover the village will leave you with a lasting impression. After lunch, we’ll visit and meet with the people of the Shui minority group before moving to Rongjiang, where we will spend the night.

Day 4 Rongjiang-Congjiang-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. 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.

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 5 Zhaoxing-Sanjiang (B, L, D)

The morning will be left free for you to hike to one of the small villages nearby for special celebration activities (depending on the day). We will then drive to Sangjiang to visit 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 are 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.

Another highlight of Sanjiang that we will explore is 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.

Day 6 Sanjiang-Longsheng (B, L, D)

After an early wake-up we will make the drive to Longsheng. By foot we will walk up and down the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. A vast region of rice terraces stretches layer upon layer, coiling around from the base of Longji (the dragon's backbone) Mountain to its summit; this is the most amazing rice terrace in China. The Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces is a beautiful natural picture. The linked together rice terraces vary from season to season. In spring, the water is irrigated into the fields and the terraces look like great chains or ribbons hung on the hillsides. When the onset of summer, green waves rush continuously down the mountainside from the heaven. The theme of autumn is the harvest, with the mountainside decorated with the gold of ripened millet. Coming into winter, the whole mountain will be covered with white snow, just like dragons playing with water.

Dotting all along the rice terraces are the peoples and villages of the Zhuang and Yao minority groups. The women dress in unique and colorful costumes, singing and dancing. Guests also can join in with them to enjoy the original Zhuang life and culture, and even stay with local families enjoying both the Longji tea and the Longji wine.

We will stay here the rest of the day in order to better understand the Zhuang’s and Yao’s fascinating way of life.

Day 7 Longsheng-Guilin (B, L, D)

We will drive about 5 hours to Guilin, which is located in Guangxi province in southwest China. The stunning landscape in which the city is situated has a kind of magic that is all its own. The strangely shaped hills, or karsts, with the verdant vegetation ranging from bamboo to conifers together with wonderful caves make Guilin such an attraction for visitors.

After arriving, we’ll embark on a city tour covering the city’s highlights. You’ll see all the natural wonders, like the Reed Flute Cave, Elephant Trunk Hill, Seven Star Park, as well as some aspects of the city’s diverse cultural background.

Day 8 Guilin-Yangzhuo (B, L, D)

Today you will be cruising down one of the world’s most stunning rivers, the Li. Gorgeous karst peaks give you surprises at each bend of the limpid river under the blue sky. Water buffalo patrol the fields, peasants reap rice paddies, school children and fisherman float by on bamboo rafts. With its breathtaking scenery and taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the scenery along the Li River become one of China's top tourist destinations. Some of the highlights you will see on your 7-8hour cruise will be Elephant Trunk Hill, a hill resembling an Elephant taking water from its trunk, Pagoda Hill, just a few minutes away from the Elephant Trunk Hill, Daxu Town, an ancient river town, and of course you will also see local fisherman and workers over their normal course of work. The cruise down the Li River offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the local population here.

The cruise will end at Yangshuo. Yangshuo is a lush and exotic city that includes minority groups from all over Asia. Yanghsuo is characterized by crystal clear rivers, limestone crags, lush vegetation, traditional Chinese architecture and customs, which have been immortalized in Chinese classical landscape paintings and poetry. The beautiful natural scenery so admired by painters and poets has made Yangshuo famous throughout China and internationally. Word of Yangshuo's charm has spread like wildfire among travelers worldwide, greatly boosting its popularity and made it a paradise for backpackers. After checking into your hotel, you can go down to West Street, the hip main street that features foreign pubs and bars, along with traditional shops and inns.

In the evening you will be treated to a performance of the” Impression on Sanjie Liu”. Maybe you have heard of the film 'Sanjie Liu' produced in 1961, which made the Li River famous worldwide. Sanjie Liu is a fairy singer in the myths and legends of the Zhuang ethnic minority. She is incomparably beautiful, and has voice to match her beauty. In the 'Impression on Sanjie Liu', what you can see are the impressions derived from the daily life of the people living around the Li River, rather than the specific details of the stories. From these impressions, you will gain a realistic impression on the background of Sanjie's birthplace and understand the beauty of the folk songs' hometown. The performance is divided into seven chapters including the preface and epilogue. In addition, the performance also boasts both modern and classical music played by famous musicians of China. Additionally, there are in excess of 600 performers, all of whom are local people of the Li River. They present the reality of life for the people in Sanjie's hometown through their primitive and wonderful performances.

Day 9 Yangshuo-Guilin-depart (B)

Following breakfast, you will be drive back to Guilin, where you’ll then be taken to the airport, flying on to your next destination and ending your tour with us.