8 Day Travel Through Guizhou Minority Areas 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
  • You’ll get to meet with local families, getting a slice of their local life while also learning about their culture
  • This tour includes pick-up and drop-off from the airport, and also an English-speaking guide for the duration of your trip.

(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-Sandu (B, L)

In the morning we will start driving to Sandu, the country’s only autonomous region for the Shui people. The Shui people are the descendants of the Luoyue people, one of the ancient tribes living along China’s southeastern coast. Shui means water in Chinese, wherefore, the Shui people refer to people living along the waterside. The Shui People gained their name because they mainly dwell along the rivers and streams; their living customs, worship, and folklores, all revolve around water. In 1956, they were formally named Shui Ethnic Minority.

The traditional houses of the Shui people are of "pile dwelling" architecture constructed from fir and pine wood and covered by fir bark or tiles. There are usually two or three stories, with fowls sheltered under the house and people living upstairs. The number of the rooms is one, three, five, or seven; it's considered taboo to have even numbers. Men mostly wear blue or green clothes, with cloth-wrapped buttons down the front. Cotton is the mostly used fabric. They also wear a blue or black turban around the head, and baggy trousers. Women often wrap their head with a turban, and usually arrange their long hair in a bun, and insert a comb in it. They wear a collarless gown reaching to the knees, with colors including blue, green and gray, and also a long embroidered apron. On festive occasions, women wear a variety of solver earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

On the way to Sandu we will stop to visit 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”.

In the late afternoon, we will arrive in Sandu, and we will have some time to look around the town and meet with some of the local inhabitants. We’ll spend the night at an inn in Sandu.

Day 3 Sandu-Rongjiang (B, L)

In the morning we will pay a visit to the Shui village of Yangweng, where you will find that the women carry their babies in distinctive carriers made of horse-tail embroidery. Then, we will depart for Rongjiang, and on the way we will stop at the Dong village of Sanbao. ocated beside Duliu River, Sanbao Dong Village occupies a flat and fertile land and enjoys a pleasant climate. The passion of the local Dong People and their colorful national culture will certainly be a highlight of your trip.

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 will then arrive at Rongjiang, where we will spend the night at an inn.

Day 4 Rongjiang-Liping-Zhaoxing (B, L)

In the morning we will visit two Dong villages, Dali and Dimen. Family visits will be arranged, where you’ll be able to explore their daily life. You’ll find that Dong villages are arranged in a typical way. 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.

In the late afternoon, we will arrive at Zhaoxing, where we will stay at a local hotel.

Day 5 Zhaoxing-Congjiang-Rongjiang (B, L)

In the morning we will drive to Congjiang 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 Congjiang 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.

In the afternoon we will head to the Basha Miao Village. 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.

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’ll then return to Rongjiang, spending the night in a hotel.

Day 6 Rongjiang-Kaili (B, L)

Following breakfast we will drive to Kaili, a region of Guizhou where 25% of the Miao ethnic group live. On the way we’ll head to Leigong Mountain to view the gorgeous mountain scenery of terraced fields that are cultivcated by Miao farmer. You’ll also ge tto see their high stilted homes over the fields.

We’ll next stop at the Datang Short Skirt Miao Village. 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 take your breath away.

In the late afternoon we will arrive at Kaili, spending the night there.

Day 7 Kaili-Guiyang (B, L)

Today we will drive back to Guiyang to see the city’s sights. Our first stop in Guiyang 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 pay a visit to the old town of Qingyan. Dating back to the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368--1644), Qingyan town was built for military and strategic reasons. Because of its geographical location, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty established it as a station for transferring military messages and to house a standing army. Due to the local geology, Qingyan Ancient Town was built completely of stone. You’ll be able to see spectacular city walls built right on the cliffs with vast rocks, which divided Qingyan into inner and outer towns. There are four gates in the wall facing north, south, east and west. Outside the four gates, there were originally eight stone tablets, which were considered the symbols of Qingyan Ancient Town. Of the eight, three remain with delicate sculptures on each surface. The most famous one is called Zhao Lunli Baisui (longevity) Fang.

Within the town, there are also over 30 types including monasteries, temples, cabinets, caves, courtyards and palaces. All of them were delicately designed by the skillful architects of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. A number of exquisite articles, such as the stone sculptures of Ciyun Temple and wooden sculptures of Shoufo Temple are all worth a look. You can visit the ancient business streets to admire the elegant classical wooden houses. If you like, stop at one of those teahouses and have a taste of the famous local snacks, such as Qingyan tofu, rice tofu and rose sugar.

Day 8 Guiyang-departure (B)

Following breakfast you will be taken to the Guiyang airport, where you will fly to your next destination, ending your tour with us.


        Greg Fitzsimmons, Ireland:

We absolutely loved the scenic beauty and hospitable farmers in the Miao villages, who invited us to visit their homes and chat with us about life. We love our conversations, of their livelihood, their work, the converted motorbike mini truck for transport, etc. Their generous and friendly spirits will always stay with us for a long long time. No matter where we were, we could always count on good stir-fry in restaurants, small eating places, and even in the courtyard of a peasant's farm house. In fact, that was the most delicious lunch we had in Guizhou. The chicken soup, corn with pine nuts, and eggplants with peppers and tomatoes, so delicious.....Now, I have come to like the spicy food in Guizhou, which certainly gives a unique flavor like no other food on earth.