Explore the culture of Ethnic minorities in Southeast Guizhou

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This is not just your average tour. This is a distinctive experience to discover some cultures indescribably different from your own. It is also an adventure. The transportation and the accommodation available to you in this region may be basic but the special architecture and stunning scenery is so awe-inspiring, so unforgettably beautiful, that it will more than make up for any inconvenience you face there.

Introduction to the Dong ethnic group:

dong ethnic minority 01

The Dong ethnic group are renowned for their musical ability and their skill as carpenters. From the Kam Grand Choirs to the looming Drum Towers, Dong villages are a place of harmony and wonder. The Dong people boast a population of nearly 3 million in China and the vast majority of them are concentrated in eastern Guizhou, western Hunan and northern Guangxi.

Dong people have a particular talent for music. They are famous throughout China for their singing.  Culturally they have developed the habit of singing songs while they are working and farming. They also have many interesting traditional folk tales and dramas that were originally based on their daily life, mostly about how to find love.

The Dong people have their own style of architecture. The central symbol of any Dong village is its Drum Tower. Normally each Dong village has one to three big-name families living in it and each of these big families will have their own Drum Tower. The Wind-Rain Bridge is another common construction attributed to the Dong ethnic minority. A large Wind-Rain Bridge can look like a palace that has been built on a bridge.

Nowadays most Dong people still follow a traditional way of life in their hometowns. To this day you can still see their special houses, their traditional dress and their unique way of celebrating festivals. But unfortunately no one knows how long this exceptional culture will survive. More and more young people from the Dong community want to live like people from the “outside world” as they see it. The art of batik, embroidery, silverwork, and even singing is gradually being lost. Nowadays, in some Dong villages, you can still enjoy some authentic “performances” that are not staged for tourists. But who knows how long this opportunity will last?

Introduction to the Miao ethnic group:

Miao intro

The history of the Miao people is shrouded in mystery, but modern research suggests that they may have been among the earliest settlers in China. Researchers have found that many Chinese words related to rice farming were borrowed from the Miao language, which indicates that the Miao were some of the first rice cultivators in the country. This, along with DNA evidences, connects the Miao to the ancient Daxi people, whose history dates back approximately 5,300 to 6,000 years. The Daxi have long been credited as the first cultivators of rice in the Far East, and it appears that the Miao may have been among them.

The Miao prefer to live in mountainous areas and have developed a special type of dwelling to this end. This dwelling, known as a diaojiaolou. The front of the house is supported by pillars, whilst the rear is suspended on wooden stilts to keep it level with the mountainside. This makes it look as though the building is hanging off of the mountain.

The Miao are adept at carpentry and wickerwork, but are best known for their mastery of silversmithing, embroidery and batik. The Miao women hand weave and dye cloth, then sew and embroider it by hand to make all of their clothes. The patterns incorporate themes based partly on the natural world and partly on the artists’ imagination, which is why dragons and phoenixes often feature in Miao craftwork and why certain animals and plants look different to how they appear in real life.

The Miao people boast possibly one of the most fascinating festivals of all the ethnic minorities. Owing to the huge diversity between the different subgroups, many Miao communities celebrate different festivals or will celebrate the same festival at different times.

About this trip:

Highlights of the trip:

  1. Discover the Culture and life of Dong and Miao ethnic minorities.
  2. Studying the architecture of a traditional Dong and Miao village;
  3. Witnessing first-hand the delicate traditional dress and adornments of the Dong and Miao people;
  4. Listening to the beautiful songs and watching the graceful performances that are associated with traditional culture and customs belonged to Dong and Miao minorities;
  5. Enjoy the stunning land view in Mountainous GuiZhou;
  6. Sampling the delicious local Dong cuisine.

What information will we provide you with in advance?

  • Useful information about the ethnic minorities, including their culture and customs, their way of life, their architecture, their traditional dress and adornments, the geography of their hometowns and their current situation;
  • Specific information about each village on your trip.

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Accommodation: We will stay in 4-Star, 3-Star and 2-Star hotels, which also local Guesthouses, as specified in the itinerary.

Note: There are no en-suite bathrooms in the Diaojiaolou Guesthouse because of their design. All room with shared toilet and bathroom.

Food: We will provide 3 meals per day, consisting of local Chinese food, when staying in the mountainous region of Southeast Guizhou. Our guide can help you for ordering food in Guiyang and Guilin.

Transportation: public transportation and rented mini coach

Duration: 12 days and 11 nights

Dates of the tour:

9th of November – 20th of November 2015

Cost pp:

£1250 (including: 11 nights of accommodation; all entrance fees to the attractions; all meals during the 8 days spent in the mountainous region of Southeast Guizhou; all transportation costs during designated tour times; the services of an English speaking guide; a pdf file with information about Dong and Miao minorities and the places in the journey; help with any further travel in China following the tour).

Single supp£1650

Please Note: the cost is based on the subscription of no less than 4 participants; the maximum number of participants being 10.

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Travel itinerary

Day 1:

Arrive at Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou province.

As the landmark of Guiyang City, Jiaxiu Tower is a traditional Chinese style building built in 1598, during the Ming Dynasty.

We will visit Jiaxiu Tower in the late afternoon; then we have dinner nearby and after dinner you can enjoy the view of the Tower at night. You may get to see some local people setting off Sky Lanterns in the square. There’s also the opportunity to walk around and get a feel for the local life in a Chinese city.

Accommodation: Four-star hotel near the city centre and Jiaxiu Tower.

Transportation: We recommend that you take a taxi from the airport to the hotel, which should cost no more than £30.

Note: if your flight is in the late afternoon or evening, please consider to join us for dinner or go to rest in the hotel directly.

Day 2:

xijiang01Go to Xijiang from Guiyang

We will take a train from Guiyang to Kaili, then take a bus to Xijiang village.

Xijiang prides itself on being the largest Miao village in China. About 1,000 families and 6,000 people call Xijiang home, and of these 99.5% of them are from the Miao ethnic minority. It is nestled on the northern side of Leigong Hill, surrounded by mountains covered in rich greenery and split in half by the fiercely beautiful Baishui or White Water River. The Diaojiaolou stretch up the hillsides on either side of the river.

Accommodation: Diaojiaolou Guesthouse

Day 3 Xijiang Village

We will watch the Miao traditional performance in the morning; after the lunch, the guide will organise to climb on the South Hill to see the panoramic view of the whole village; then everybody can enjoy the private search of the village.

Accommodation: Diaojiaolou Guesthouse

Day 4

sanbao girlsGo to Rongjiang from Guiyang; visit Sanbao Dong Ethnic village

Sambao is a typical Dong Ethnic village lying on the Duliu River Bank.

We will leave Xijiang in the morning, firstly go to Kaili, then take a coach go to Rongjiang. We will check in the hotel before take a taxi to Sanbao Village.

Accommodation: Rongjiang Three-Star hotel.

Day 5: 

Go to Congjiang by coach, stay in a special Miao Village called Basha, and visit a Dong Village called Yintan.

Basha is a village unlike any other in China. It is home to members of the Miao ethnic minority but it is unique amongst all other Miao communities. This is because it is the only place in China where residents are still legally allowed to own and carry guns. Due to their cautious nature, the villagers have virtually isolated themselves from the outside world. They are almost completely self-sufficient and still maintain practices and customs that date back hundreds of years.

Yintan is also isolated to outside world. It is a beautiful Dong village hiding in the mountains and very few tourists come to visit it.

We will take a coach from Rongjiang to Congjiang. Firstly we will go to visit Yintan Dong Ethnic village, then go back Congjiang and take a taxi to Basha.

Accommodation: Basha Guesthouse.

Day 6:

dong life01Visit Xiaohuang Village

Xiaohuang is often referred to as the Village of Songs because the Dong people in this village are particularly accomplished at performing polyphonic folk songs known as “Dage” or Grand Songs.

We will spend the morning to explore the Basha Village, then go to Xiaohuang by Taxi. After the whole after tour in Xiaohuang and enjoy the “Dage” perfoamce, we will go back Congjiang.

Accommodation: Congjiang Two-Star hotel.

Day 7:

Go to Zhaoxing

Zhaoxing is one of the most famous Dong villages in China, in part due to its size but predominantly due to the fact that it has five Drum Towers.

We will take a coach from Congjiang to Zhaoxing. We will watch the traditional Dong performance in Zhaoing this night.

Accommodation: Zhaoxing Guesthouse (maybe an en-suite hotel).

Zhaoxing01Day 8:

Explore Zhaoxing Village

Accommodation: Zhaoxing Guesthouse (maybe an en-suite hotel).

Day 9

Go to see the Wind-Rain Bridge in Chengyang

Wind-Rain bridges are so intricately carved and stunningly decorated that they look like small palaces that have been built atop a bridge. Along with the traditional Drum Towers, Wind-Rain bridges were developed by the Dong ethnic minority.

We will catch the coach from Zhaoxing to Sanjiang in the early morning 7:00 am. Please Note: we must apologise in advance, as this coach journey is not ideal. It can be dirty and very noisy. It is a tough trip to make. The road is a little dangerous because there are many sharp bends in the road. So if it is heavily raining, we may stay one day more in Zhaoxing to wait for a good weather.

We will take a taxi to Chengyang and then a taxi again to see the Wind-Rain Bridge.

Accommodation: Well-equipped hotel Chengyang.

Day 10

guilin500Go to Guilin

In China, there is a popular saying which goes “the scenery in Guilin is the greatest under heaven”. So beautiful are the Karst Mountains around Guilin that, when the Song Dynasty poet Fan Chengda sent paintings of them back to his colleagues, they could not believe what they saw. The lush Karst Mountains, blossoming osmanthus trees, and majestic Li River combine to make an ethereal paradise.

We will go back Sanjiang to take a coach to Guilin, the fantastically beautiful place.

Accommodation: Three-Star hotel in Guilin

Day 11

A leisure tour in Guilin

The Li River, also known as Lijiang, is probably the most famous scenic spot in all of Guangxi. It is so prominent that a tableau of the Li River is featured on the Chinese 20 Yuan note. The river is surrounded by Karst Mountains, which boast such unusual shapes and verdant greenery that they have an almost mythical appearance.

We will take a Bamboo Boat to experience the majesty of the Karst Mountains first hand. We will also go to explore a natural Karst cave.

Accommodation: Three-Star hotel in Guilin

Day 12

Onward travel in your own opinion or go back home.

We recommend Yangshuo, where is a beautiful town on the bank of Li River and you can meet a lot of friends from various countries.

 

yintanPlease Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 5 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us! 

For more information, please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

 

 

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