Dong Agriculture and Craftwork

dong rice

Dong people are well-known for cultivating dozens of varieties of glutinous rice, which are called “Kam rice” or “good rice”. They also typically grow maize, millet and mushrooms, and a variety of fruit, such as plums, peaches, pears, and watermelons, to supplement their diet. Dong people raise pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and fish for food, water buffalo for ploughing and for food, and dogs for protection and companionship. The “four pillars” of Dong cuisine are glutinous rice, pickled vegetables, red chillies and rice wine. Other popular local food includes barbecued fish, oil tea, and glutinous rice snacks. The Dong people also occasionally eat giant salamander, which is considered a rare local specialty. They will normally have two hot meals (breakfast and dinner) and one cold meal (lunch) every day.

dong life02Cotton is locally grown and weaved into cloth that is used to make clothes. Silks and finer cloths are exclusively used to make festival clothing. Dong men will normally wear short jackets with buttons down the middle, although in the south they wear collarless shirts and turbans. Dong women wear skirts or trousers that have beautifully embroidered hems. They wear their hair in a coil and wrap their legs and heads in decorative scarves.

Most regions where Dong villages are found are also famous for their fir trees. Dong people use the wood from these trees to build their houses and other structures in the village. They are skilful carpenters, and are also accomplished at silverwork and wickerwork. Wickerwork is usually done by the men, who use materials such as glutinous rice straw and bamboo to make baskets and other wicker furnishings.



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Dong Marriage Customs

dong minority

In Dong culture, courtship traditionally takes place in three stages. The first stage, known as the early meeting phase, is when the man and the woman will sing songs and recite poems to one another as part of a group. The second stage, known as the deepening love phase, is when the man and woman single one another out so their interaction is on a one-to-one basis and the songs are more spontaneous. The final phase, known as the exchange of a token phase, is when the man offers the women a token of his affection and the woman is expected to make excuses to test the persistence of her suitor. This token is usually a small gift that has little monetary value but it is incredibly symbolically important, as it is the Dong equivalent of offering the woman an engagement ring.

dong love01

Dong weddings normally last three days and begin in the bride’s family home. After the ceremony in the bride’s home, the bride is transported to the groom’s home, where the groom’s family will host an afternoon reception and an all-night feast. The following day, the guests take part in the “block the horse” ceremony, where the hosts block the village gate whilst singing songs. In Liping region, traditionally the bride continues to live at her parents’ home until she gives birth to her first child. Thereafter she will live with her husband permanently. In some Dong communities, the bride will living with her family after the wedding for a couple of years, since many Dong women get married when they are still very young. The family’s silver jewellery will usually be passed onto the bride by the mother after she is married.

dong wedding01
Dong people were going for a wedding, with their gifts.


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Dong Ethnic Minority Spirituality


The Dong people are polytheistic and most of their religious beliefs revolve around animism. Animism is the spiritual belief that non-human entities, such as animals, plants, inanimate objects and natural phenomena, possess a spiritual essence. The Dong people also worship their ancestors and a few mythical shared ancestor figures such as Song Sang, Song En, Zhang Liang, and Zhang Mei.

Dong deities tend to be based around buildings, natural elements or sacred natural phenomena, such as the two fire spirits, one of which is good and one of which is evil, the spirits of the sky and the earth, the bridge goddess, and the spirits of thunder and lightning. The most important deity in Dong mythology is known as Sa Sui and she is thought to be one of the original land goddesses. Other deities associated with more abstract concepts include the god who banishes evil, the love god, who consists of five male gods, and the family prosperity gods. Snakes are particularly important in Dong religion as they are believed to be the progenitors of their ancient ancestors.

Dong people believe in religious totems, usually in the form of turtles, dragons or snakes, and in divination, using rice grains, bamboo roots, snails, and chicken bones for this purpose. Other spiritual practices include: rituals, such as dragon dances and fire prevention ceremonies; sorcery, which is used to repel evil spirits, recover the soul of a disturbed child, exact revenge on enemies or induce someone to fall in love; and shamanism, which plays a predominantly holistic medicinal role.


There are also many cultural taboos in Dong culture, many of which relate to pregnant women. For example, pregnant women should not participate in marriage ceremonies or arrangements, visit sick acquaintances, sacrifice to gods, or watch new houses being built. Unmarried Dong men should not eat pigs’ feet, as they have cleft hooves, metal should not be placed in coffins, as departed souls fear metal objects, and the lusheng[1] should not be played between the sowing and transplanting of rice seedlings, as it may attract a plague of insects. These are but a few of many taboos that the Dong people adhere to.


[1] Lusheng: A wind instrument made of multiple bamboo pipes, each fitted with a free reed, that are all in turn fitted into a large, hardwood pipe. Normally there are five or six bamboo pipes that are each of a different pitch. Air is blown into the hardwood pipe to create sound. They vary in size from small, handheld ones to ones that are several metres in length.


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Drum Towers

drum tower yintan

The Drum Towers that loom over every Dong village look like giant cedar trees winding their way to the sky. Drum Towers are a triumph of Dong architecture and are deeply culturally significant to the Dong ethnic minority. They are the place where the elders meet, socialise and, at one point in history, even passed judgement. They are an important social hub in any Dong community and are thus the perfect place to experience authentic Dong culture. There is a Drum Tower in every Dong village and, though they all bear basic similarities, no two towers are ever exactly the same.

There are two different types of Drum Tower: single-pillar towers and multi-pillar towers. As the name suggests, single-pillar towers are braced by only one pillar. They are the less popular of the two types. Multi-pillar towers are braced by four main pillars and 12 smaller pillars, which are believed to represent the four seasons and the 12 months of the year. The four central pillars are sometimes referred to as the “Golden Pillars”. Like the Wind-Rain bridges, the Drum Towers are built without using any nails and instead rely on groove joints, which hold the beams and columns of the tower together perfectly. Most Drum Towers will have a square base but the tower itself will usually be hexagonal or octagonal in shape. The storeys of the tower get wider as they go from top to bottom, giving the tower a tapered appearance. Every Drum Tower will have an odd number of storeys, as the Dong people believe this is a symbol of good fortune.

gulou01In accordance with the Dong people’s worship of trees, the outline of the Drum Tower is supposed to look like a large tree, specifically a cedar tree. The shape of the tower is supposed to represent the legendary Cedar King from Dong folklore. The tower’s interior and exterior will be lavishly decorated with carvings and paintings of animals, famous historical figures, flowers and tableaus of legendary stories, festivals and daily life. The first storey is usually the most elaborately decorated. In every village, the local clan will have built their own Drum Tower. The size of the tower and the artistic beauty of its decoration indicate the status of the clan who built it, so a large and extravagantly decorated Drum Tower is a sign of a wealthy and powerful Dong community.

Inside the Drum Tower there are benches between the four main pillars. These benches encircle what is called the “fire pond”, which is a fire pit that is kept lit throughout most of the year. It is believed that one of the functions of this “fire pond” is to dry out the inside of the Drum Tower so the wood does not rot, as Guizhou’s climate is notoriously damp and rainy. A large leather drum hangs down from the top of the tower, which is why they are called “Drum Towers”. The drum is beaten whenever something of import happens within the village, although nowadays most towers do not have working drums.

Historically the Drum Tower has always had an important social function within any Dong community. In the past, the council of elders in a Dong village would gather in the tower whenever someone from the village had violated one of the village rules. There they would confer and decide upon a suitable punishment for that individual. Once they had reached a decision, the elders would beat the drum and the villagers would gather to hear the verdict. This custom is no longer practised, although some small disputes may still be handled by the council of elders within the Drum Tower. Nowadays it is a place where villagers can gather to entertain each other by singing, playing instruments, dancing or simply meeting and socialising. The tower is also still the main venue for important festivals.

The number of Drum Towers in each village depends on how many clans or large families live within the village. Each large family or clan will erect their own Drum Tower as a monument to their family. Small Dong villages will only have one Drum Tower because they usually only house one clan and all of the villagers will have the same family name. Larger Dong villages, such as Zhaoxing, will have more than one Drum Tower because the village is home to a number of different clans, all with different family names.

Zengchong Drum Tower


The Zengchong Drum Tower is regarded as one of the archetypal Dong-style Drum Towers and it is the largest Drum Tower in Guizhou province. It is located in Zengchong Village, about 50 kilometres northwest of Jingxian County. It was built in 1675, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and it covers an area of over 100 square metres. It is a five-storey octagonal shaped tower, stretching 20 metres from top to bottom, with 13 eaves and a pyramidal roof. The “fire pond” within the tower is nearly 2 metres in diameter. There are three doors into the tower, on the south, north, and west sides respectively, and there is a horizontal tablet on the ground floor. This tablet was carved in 1830 and has four Chinese characters inscribed upon it, which read: “Ten-Thousand-Li[1] Soft Breeze”. The leather drum within the tower is still intact and in use today.

Drum Towers are often considered holy shrines by the local people and so, if you visit Zengchong village, be sure to note what is hanging from the village gate. If there is a thatch design hanging from the gate, this means religious celebrations are taking place and only residents are permitted entrance to the Drum Tower.

Unfortunately, at the moment there is no direct transport to Zengchong village. In order to get to the village, you first need to take the bus from Kaili to Rongjiang, which takes about 4 hours. After that, you must take another bus from Rongjiang to Congjiang and get off at Tingdong. From Tingdong, the only way to get to Zengchong village is to flag down a tractor that is heading that way, as there will be no taxis or public buses in Tingdong. There are private hostels in Zengchong village that are very cheap and near to the Drum Tower, although they may not be equipped with all modern amenities. Alternatively, you can visit the Drum Towers in the Dong villages of Sanbao, Yintan or Xiaohuang, which are all much easier to get to.


[1] Li: A unit of distance used in China that roughly equates to 500 metres (1,640 ft.)


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Zhaoxing village is located about 72 kilometres (45 miles) from Liping County Town, Guizhou, and is one of the largest Dong villages in China. Zhaoxing boasts a population of over 4,000 people and 800 households. According to local legend, this village was supposedly founded during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), meaning the village ancestors settled there over 840 years ago.

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. Each tower is specially named in order to promote a certain virtue. The first tower is called “Ren”, which means “benevolence”. The second is called “Yi”, meaning “righteousness”. The third is named “Li”, meaning “courtesy”. The fourth is called “Zhi”, meaning “wisdom”, and the fifth is named “Xin”, meaning “faithfulness”. Each tower is different in terms of its method of construction, size, height and external appearance. Of the five towers, the Zhi Tower is generally considered to be the most beautiful. There are also numerous Wind-Rain bridges in the village, which are located on the Nanjiang River that runs through Zhaoxing.

Outside each of the Drum Towers, there are theatre stages and singing platforms. Every night, these platforms come alive with vivid plays and powerful folk songs performed by the villagers. The liveliness and size of this village makes it the perfect place to experience any of the Dong festivals, including the Dong New Year, the New Harvest Festival, the Lusheng[1] Festival, and the Sama Festival. Of all the Dong festivals, the most famous is the 500-year-old festival known as Ni Ren Jie or Ni Ren Festival. This festival is celebrated every year on August 15th according to the Chinese lunar calendar, and takes place in Xiage village, which is about four kilometres away from Zhaoxing. It is normally celebrated after the autumn harvest. During the festival, the Dong people give thanks to the gods for a good harvest and express their love of the earth.

Ni Ren Jie is separated into two parts, referred to in the Dong language as Duoma (playing with mud) and Daoshen (bull-fighting). In the Duoma part of the festival, young, half-naked men will enter a pond that has been specially made for the festival and try to catch fish with their bare hands, which muddies the water. Each time they manage to catch a fish, they will hold it high in the air and the onlookers will loudly praise them. As the young men scramble to catch fish, the pond will become muddier and muddier, until eventually they start daubing mud on the bodies of everyone involved. When all of the participants are completely covered in mud, the Duoma part of the festival ends and the Daoshen part begins.

On exiting the pond, each participant will take their prize bull to the pond for the bull-fighting competition. These bulls are specially raised for this festival alone. They do not plough fields or do farm work of any kind, and are kept on a special diet to make sure they are larger and stronger than normal working bulls. The bulls will either fight within the pond or within a specially made ring near the Drum Tower. After many bouts, the final winner will be chosen and given the title of “Bull King”, which is a precious honour for both the bull and its master.

zhaoxing02No matter what is happening in Zhaoxing, whether it is a local festival or simply just a regular working day, the locals are very friendly and welcome tourists to come join them. If you still have time and energy after your trip to Zhaoxing, there are six other Dong villages nearby that are also worth visiting. One of these villages, called Tangan Village, is about 7 kilometres to the east of Zhaoxing and is home to the only Dong People Eco-museum. There is also a nearby mountain called Mount Sansui, which rewards any hiker who scales its heights with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.

Zhaoxing is one of the more accessible Dong villages. You can fly to Liping County from Shanghai, Guangzhou, Guilin and Guiyang. From Liping, there are buses every hour to Zhaoxing and the journey takes about two hours. Alternatively you can take a bus directly from Guiyang to Zhaoxing, which takes about nine to ten hours. There are plenty of guesthouses and a handful of hotels in the village, which are all reasonably priced.


[1] Lusheng: A wind instrument made of multiple bamboo pipes, each fitted with a free reed, that are all in turn fitted into a large, hardwood pipe. Normally there are five or six bamboo pipes that are each of a different pitch. Air is blown into the hardwood pipe to create sound. They vary in size from small, handheld ones to ones that are several metres in length.


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xiaohuang dong village


Xiaohuang is located about 22 kilometres away from Congjiang County. However, about 14 kilometres of the road is a sandy, zigzag path through the mountains, so the bus from Congjiang to Xiaohuang can take about an hour. Over 3,000 people live in this village and, as the village is pretty isolated from the outside world, the locals have become relatively self-sufficient. To this end, everyone in the village is proficient at farming, hunting and weaving cloth.

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. In 1996 the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China bestowed the title “the Village of China Folk Art” on Xiaohuang because of its preservation of the Dong singing tradition. Over one third of the population of Xiaohuang is made up of professional folk singers. While some folk songs are accompanied by the pipa[1], most are sung without any musical accompaniment.

From dusk till dawn, you will always be greeted by the harmonious sound of singing throughout Xiaohuang. The Dong ethnic minority have no written language, so they use folk songs to narrate their daily life, express their feelings and keep a record of their history. All of Dong culture is preserved in these magnificent folk songs. The more songs a Dong person knows, the better educated they are considered to be. Singing is so important to the Dong people that supposedly, in the past, if a man couldn’t sing then he would struggle to find a wife.

From an early age, children in the village are encouraged to love singing and hold on to this passion well into their old age. Children from the age of five will be trained by one of the accomplished local singers free of charge and these singing teachers are greatly revered in the village. The villagers are separated into different choirs depending on their age and gender. Every choir is distinguished by their particular style of singing and the topics of their songs. For example, choirs of young children will sound sweet and lively, while choirs of young girls sound innocent and full of passion, and choirs of men have a depth to their voices that sounds haunting and powerful. Female choirs incorporate sopranos, mezzo-sopranos and contraltos and male choirs incorporate countertenors, tenors, baritones and bass’.

Kam Grand Choir 01The most talented singers in any Dong village make up what are called Kam Grand Choirs. The Kam Grand Choir tradition is thought to date back all the way to the Warring States Period (475BC-221 B.C.), with a history of over 2,500 years behind it. In 2009, it was made a World Class Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. A Kam Grand Choir is a polyphonic choir that sings without the help of a conductor or any accompanying orchestra. Most songs performed by these choirs consist of a prelude, a main body made up of several sections and an ending. These songs are designed to imitate the natural world, such as the chirping of insects, the gurgling of streams, the whistling of the wind and other soothing natural sounds. The singing is designed to spur the soul and originate from the heart. The solo singing will be done by the sopranos and the bass section is sung by the rest of the choir. The soprano section will be performed by between one and three sopranos, depending on the style of song.

There are Male Choirs, Female Choirs and Child Choirs, and each of these is further separated into four main categories based on their styles, melodies and the content of their songs. In the Dong dialect, these four categories are called Gating, Gama, Gaxiang and Gaji. Gating or “Choirs of Sound” perform songs that are characterised by an undulating melody and short lyrics, employing the use of several sopranos. This style of song is dedicated almost entirely to imitating the sounds of the natural world. The famous Cicada Song is a fine example of a Gating-style song. Gama or “Romance Choirs” perform songs revolving around the theme of love and employ slow rhythms and soft voices to heighten their effect.

Kam Grand Choir 02Gaxiang or “Morality Choirs” perform songs that are designed to educate, advise or console the Dong people by praising virtues and condemning inappropriate behaviour. These songs have an even tune in order to draw focus to their lyrics. Finally, Gaji or “Narrative Choirs” perform songs that focus on dialogue and plot, and are characterised by slow, melancholy or soothing tunes. The Gaji songs are some of the hardest to perform, as they require the performers to remember lengthy lyrics, complicated plots and various key facial expressions. Usually these songs will be led by only one soprano.

If you want to experience the majesty of a performance by a Kam Grand Choir in Xiaohuang, you will have to book it in advance. The scale of the orchestra will vary depending on how many tourists have booked a place and how much they have paid. However, if you come during any of the Chinese public holidays, you’ll be treated to a free performance by the villagers. The best time to come is on National Day public holidays, which is around 1st of October every year. Unfortunately, during these public holidays Dong villages like Xiaohuang can become crowded.

dong ethnic group 01If you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend that you visit during the Dong New Year festival, which is normally sometime between late October and early November every year according to the Chinese lunar calendar. During the New Year celebrations, the surrounding Dong villages will hold a singing competition that is truly magnificent to behold. A similar competition organised by the government is now also held during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and occasionally a singing competition will also be held on August 16th(Chinese lunar calendar). If you’re taking a tour of the Dong villages, we strongly recommend visiting Xiaohuang and experiencing first-hand a village that is forever immersed in song.



[1] Pipa: A four-stringed plucking instrument that has a pear-shaped wooden body and anywhere from 12 to 26 frets. It is sometimes referred to as the Chinese lute.


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Dong Villages



With a population of nearly 3 million people, the Dong ethnic minority is one of many thriving, culturally diverse communities found in China. The greatest concentration of Dong people live in Guizhou province, in the southeast of China. There are many Dong villages in Liping, Rongjiang and Congjiang County that have survived for hundreds of years and the locals in these villages have enjoyed a lifestyle that has remained largely unchanged since the villages were established. Dong villages characteristically have wooden houses supported by stilts. The Dong ethnic minority is famed in particular for its Wind-Rain bridges, Drum Towers and rich history of folk singing. In every Dong village, there will be at least one Drum Tower, one Wind-Rain Bridge and one Kam Grand Choir.

When visiting any of these regions, you need to ask for permission before you enter any of the Dong villages, out of respect for their local customs. If you notice a thatch design or a rope hanging from the village gate, this means a religious festival is taking place and normally only residents will be allowed admittance into the village. There are numerous Dong villages in Guizhou, such as Sanbao village and Yintan village, which all have their own unique properties and customs. To give you a better idea of what life in a Dong village is like, we’ve dedicated two articles to the villages of Zhaoxing and Xiaohuang, which are both different but magnificent in their own way.

No matter where you go in Guizhou, you’re bound to encounter some aspect of the vibrant and fascinating Dong culture. Xiaohuang and Zhaoxing are just two examples of a rich treasure trove of villages that are just waiting to be discovered in the lush, mountainous countryside of Guizhou. Whether you want to revel in the haunting melodies of the Kam Grand Choirs or bask in the shade of a colossal Drum Tower, southeast Guizhou is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the life of the Dong people.


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Dong Ethnic Minority

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. Legends abound as to how the Dong people came to settle where they are now. Although all Dong people agree that their ancestors migrated from the east, southern Dong people believe their ancestors came from Guangdong and Guangxi, whilst northern Dong people believe their ancestors were forced to flee from Zhejiang and Fujian due to locust swarms. Their culture stretches back hundreds of years and this is evident in their daily life and local festivals.

The average Dong village consists of about 200 to 300 households, although the smallest ones will have only 10 to 20 and the largest can have upwards of 1,000. Villages are traditionally led by a council of elders, who are usually over the age of 60 and who utilise the village Drum Tower to hold meetings and discuss local affairs. There are certain features that are common throughout all Dong villages and these include wooden houses supported by stilts, Wind-Rain bridges, Drum Towers, sacred ancient trees, bullfighting arenas, wells surrounded by stone rims, communal fish-ponds, village gates, and altars to the deity Sa Sui.

The Dong language, known as Kam or Gam, is as complex as their culture. Kam is a tonal language but unlike Chinese, which has only 4 tones, there are a staggering 9 tones in Kam that are all used to denote meaning. Officially no written form of Kam exists, although there is now a Latin Romanisation of their language. The history, folktales and legends of the Dong people have all been passed down through song as part of their oral tradition.


Read more about Dong Ethnic Minority:

Dong Spirituality       Marriage Customs       Birth Customs       Funerary Customs

Agriculture and Craftwork       Performance      Oral Literature

Famous Dong Villages:   Chengyang       Sanbao      Xiaohuang       Yintan       Zhaoxing


Discover the culture of Dong Ethnic Minority in Guizhou on the travel:  Explore the culture of Ethnic minorities in Southeast Guizhou

Explore the culture of the Dong ethnic group

This is not just your average tour. This is an adventure. The transportation and the accommodation available to you in this region may be basic but the distinctive culture, 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.

Simple introduction to the Dong ethnic group:

As one of the minority groups in China, the Dong People have their own language, but no word. There are more than 3 million Dong people living throughout Guizhou, Hunan and Guangxi province. 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?

About this trip:

It’s time to explore a culture that is indescribably different from your own.

Highlights of the trip:

  1. Studying the architecture of a traditional Dong village;
  2. Witnessing first-hand the delicate traditional dress and adornments of the Dong people;
  3. Listening to the beautiful songs and watching the graceful performances that are associated with traditional Dong culture and customs;
  4. Sampling the delicious local Dong cuisine.

Summary of the travel plan:

By now, if you’ve read this article carefully, you will already have some general knowledge about this ethnic group. Throughout this tour, you will delve into the daily life of the Dong people, witness first-hand how they live, and develop an in-depth knowledge of their culture.  You will get a rare glimpse of their daily life. You will be given the opportunity to do some light research into their architecture. You will be privy to demonstrations of their songs and folk performances, which is why we have chosen the middle of August (according to the Chinese lunar calendar) to hold our tour as this is when their biggest festival takes place. And, finally, you will get to sample their local food. We are sure you will love their rice wine!

On the tour you will be staying in the traditional wooden houses found in all Dong villages. You must be very curious about how modern their houses are. There’s no need to worry! We will set you up in a local hotel that has some basic, modern facilities. However, we recommend that you bring your own sleeping bag with you, as the beds in the hotels will also be quite basic.

We are certain that you will be deeply impressed and moved by their beautiful songs even though you won’t be able understand their language or their meaning. By listening to their music, you may feel that, in some incommunicable way, you have entered their world. After that, you may even want to plan your next journey there and try to live like a true Dong local.


What information will we provide you with in advance?

  • Useful information about the Dong ethnic group, including their history, their way of life, their festivals and customs, their architecture, their traditional dress and adornments, the geography of their hometowns and their current situation;
  • Specific information about each village on your trip;
  • Information about the transportation and accommodation you will use;
  • Some useful Chinese phrases that you can use to communicate with locals on a very basic level while you are there, such as how to ask locals for directions, how to purchase the tickets you will need and so on. We will also provide you with the names (in Chinese) of the local dishes and the souvenirs you may be interested in purchasing.

Travel itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou province.


  • Go to the supermarket and buy all necessary items for daily use, e.g. tissues, shampoo etc.;
  • Have a good rest after your international flight. Don’t get restless; you will start your adventure soon!
  • Enjoy a leisurely tour of Guiyang.

Tourists Attractions in Guiyang: Jiaxiu Tower.

We recommend you visit Jiaxiu Tower in the late afternoon, around about 3pm. You can 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. There is a night market nearby where you may find some interesting things to buy.

Accommodation: Four-star hotel near the city centre and Jiaxiu Tower (about £40 per night)

Transportation: We recommend that you take a taxi from the airport to the hotel, which should cost no more than £20. We also recommend that you take a taxi to the coach station the next day, which should cost no more than £5.

Note: We recommend that you go to sleep early and try to enjoy the luxurious hotel bed while you can. This is the most comfortable hotel you will stay in on your trip. You should also try to conserve your energy so you can start your adventure the next day.

Day 2: Go to Rongjiang from Guiyang; visit Sanbao village


  • Leave for Rongjiang by coach at 9:40 am from the stadium coach station in Guiyang. It will take you roughly 3 hours to get to Rongjiang.
  • Arrive at Rongjiang just after midday. From here you have two choices: you can find a small restaurant and have a simple lunch near the coach station, or you can go straight to Sanbao village and find a special, local restaurant there. If you are really starving after the long coach journey, we suggest that you eat something near the station.
  • Visit Sanbao Village. Take a taxi from the coach station to the village, which should hopefully only cost about £1. When you arrive, there will be some performances taking place inside the village. Normally if a big group of people arrive together, then a performance will start immediately. If all else fails, you can just walk around and explore the village until you hear the music or the songs, and then you can head back for the performance. Sanbao sits on the banks of the Duliujiang River. The beautiful view there of the moon when sitting on the river banks at night is desperately romantic.
  • Although the atmosphere at night is incredibly peaceful and the view is very beautiful, we suggest that you head back to Rongjiang to stay overnight. The living conditions in Sanbao have not yet improved to the level that we feel would be acceptable for most tourists. You may also find that the whole village has quite a strong smell to it. The smell is not strong enough to ruin your tour but it can be quite off-putting.
  • During the day, you can choose a nice local restaurant in the town centre to enjoy some authentic Dong-style cuisine. In our experience, the small restaurants on the high street are very good. You’ll have to sit down on the small low-stools that are common in local Chinese restaurants. We recommend you tell the waiter that you cannot eat food that is too spicy, although this is completely up to your discretion.

Accommodation: we recommend you stay at a hotel in Rongjiang called Binuan. It is just a simple hotel but it is peaceful and clean. It costs between £20 and £30 per night depending on what type of room you want.

Day 3: Go to Congjiang by coach, stay in a special Miao Village called Basha, and visit a Dong Village called Yintan


  • Take a coach from Rongjiang coach station. We recommend that you take the coach early in the morning as there are several morning performances in Congjiang that you can enjoy if you get there early. It will take about 2 hours to get to Congjiang from Rongjiang;
  • Take a Taxi from Congjiang station to Biasha, which should only cost £4 or £5 if you bargain with the taxi driver. You must also ask the driver for his telephone number and let him know that you would like him to make a round trip to Yintan later, which should cost from £25 to £30 if you bargain with the driver.
  • Find a small B&B in Biasha. If you want to, you can stay in local’s house instead, so long as you can accept the potentially less hygienic or unhygienic conditions there.
  • Once you are in Biasha, you will hopefully have the chance to enjoy a traditional performance by people from the Miao ethnic minority. From experience, it is a fantastic and culturally enlightening display.
  • After you are done in Biasha and you have chosen a place to stay there, it will be time to head to Yintan. Yintan is a beautiful Dong village that rests inside the mountains. There are almost no tourists there and, likewise, there are very few residents. It is rare to see any young people there. Most of the young people from the village have left to find work so their families can survive. The village population is mainly made up of elderly people and children.
  • After you have finished exploring Yintan, you should head back Biasha.
  • About Biasha: Since Biasha is a Miao village, it may seem weird that it has been included in this travel plan. We recommend you visit Biasha because it is a very special place, even among the Miao villages, and it is very close to Congjiang. It’s an opportunity you can’t afford to miss! Biasha is the only place in China where residents are allowed to own guns, since it is part of their tradition and culture. Every man in this village will have a gun, and they are all very good at shooting. Men in Biasha have a special kind of hairstyle. For their entire life, they shave most of their head and leave only some hair directly in the centre of their head, which to them symbolises the one life they have been given. Biasha people worship the God of the Maple Tree. Every man in the village will be given a maple tree when he is born. When he dies, the maple tree will be cut down and used to make his coffin.

pic6 Accommodation:

At the moment we still cannot book a room in Biasha via the Internet, although it has been a famous tourist destination for years. People there still follow their original way of life so they don’t use the Internet. The good news is more and more B&Bs are cropping up in the village. We will try to book a room for you at one of these B&Bs over the phone. If they are not too busy, they will save your room for you. Unfortunately, if they do not save you a room then you will have to find another hotel while you are there.

Please Note: Some elderly women in Biasha and Yintan may beg or ask you for money. We are sorry if that happens to you and of course you have every right to refuse. But if you don’t give them any money, please think carefully when you decide to take a photo of some of the elderly residents there. Sometimes this is all they can do to make a living. If you would like to help them, giving them just 10-yuan RMB (about £1) will be enough, and we suggest that you don’t give them too much unless you feel particularly sympathetic towards them. However, we must strongly advise that you do not give money to children. If you really want to help them, please give them some cheap gifts instead of money. .

Day 4: Visit Xiaohuang Village


  • Go to the coach station. We will provide you with a printout that has the following sentence written on it in Chinese: “I want a taxi to Xiaohuang” or “I want to share a taxi with someone to Xiaohuang”.  Normally the total round trip will cost about £20 (for a single person traveling alone, so halve that if you choose to share a taxi). Another option is to ask the taxi driver who drove you to Biasha the previous day, but for this kind of professional Taxi the price may be higher, so you’ll probably have to give the taxi driver about £25 pounds.
  • About Xiaohuang: It is predominantly famous for its folk songs.
  • If you like this village a lot then you can bargain with your driver and give him some more money so that you can stay there longer.
  • After you’re finished in Xiaohuang, you will return to Biasha and enjoy some leisure time wandering the village. You may meet some other tourists there who are English or who can speak English. It is a shame you won’t be able to chat with the local people. They can barely speak Mandarin, let alone English.

Day 5: Go to Zhaoxing


    • Catch a coach at 7.50am from Congjiang coach station to Zhaoxing. Please don’t miss it! There is only one coach in the morning. However if, for whatever reason, you do miss it, then it is not the end of the world. We have a back-up plan: you can go to Luoxiang by coach, and then take a Taxi to Zhaoxing. The taxi should only cost about £2.
  • Find your hotel and check in. While you’re there, you should ask the hotel owner for information about the local evening performance. You can buy a ticket for the performance in the hotel. The performance will not be like the other performances you will have seen on the previous three days. The performance will take place on a stage and the actors in it are professionals. This performance may have more star quality and look more professional, but you may still prefer the authentic, village performances you have seen previously.


Zhaoxing is one of the biggest Dong villages. We can book a hotel for you online and the hotels in Zhaoxing tend to be better than in the other Dong villages.

Day 6 Go to see the Wind-Rain Bridge in Chengyang


  • Catch the coach from Zhaoxing to Sanjiang at 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 raining, you may want to go the next day instead. Ask the receptionist in the hotel where the bus stop is and try to get there as early as possible so you can get a seat on the coach.
  • Take a taxi from Sanjiang to Chengyang. It should cost no more than £5.
  • Check in at the hotel in Chenyang and enjoy your day exploring the village. Don’t forget to go to the bridge and have a look. After all, that’s what you will have come to see!


Chengyang is well-equipped for tourism. You will find many tourists from all over the world there. This means we can easily book a hotel for you online. If you talk with some of the other tourists there and mention some of the other villages you have visited, you’ll find that most of the other tourists won’t have visited any of them. Most of these tourists will have come directly from Guilin as it is much easier to get to Chengyang from there. This is why you will have seen almost no other foreign tourists on your journey.

Day 7 Go to Guilin and start your next trip or go back home.

You may decide to stay in Chengyang for another day. It is a good idea as you’ll need a rest day after such a tough journey. Just keep in mind that, when you do want to leave, you’ll need to go back to Sanjiang to catch a coach to Guilin. Remember to ask your hotel reception for the latest coach schedule. The last coach to Guilin should leave at 14:30. Fortunately it is a modern coach and it is very comfortable.