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6 Days Guizhou Ethnic Minorities & Villages Photography Tour

Miao & Dong Ethnic Villages; Nature & Culture Exploration

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In Southeast Guizhou, you could shoot the ancient minority villages and the Miao, Dong and Shui ethnic people you’ve never seen before!

Are you attracted by a primitive way of living that which is totally different from the city life? Do you want to escape the hustle and bustle life and get into the quiet and peaceful rural villages? Do you anticipate to meet ethnic minority who has their own history and culture? Then, come to Southeast Guizhou to the Miao and Dong minority kingdom. They live in stilt houses, wear traditional costumes, care nothing outside their hills, celebrate their own festivals in interesting ways...It is worth spending several days exploring a different world by touching the lovely people in Kaili, Leishan, Rongjiang, Congjiang, Jiabang Rice Terraces and Zhaoxing, etc. Go and shoot now!

Photography Tips: This Guizhou ethnic photography tour can be customized depending on which sites you want to visit, what photos you want to take, and on the weather condition when you go. Feel free to tell your interests and ideas to your personal travel consultants!

Basic Photography Info

Travel Route: Guiyang / Kaili / Xijiang / Rongjiang / Congjiang

Travel Length: 6 Days

Tour Code: CD-PTSGT-06

Tour Type: Customizable Private Tour

Departure: You Choose (you may plan it according to the best season and time.)

Itinerary Details Day by Day

Day 1 Guiyang - Qingyan Old Town - Kaili

Welcome to Guiyang, the beautiful “City of Forest” and provincial capital of Guizhou! Upon your arrival, your local guide and driver will meet you at the airport or railway station in Guiyang. Then, escort you to Kaili, the capital city city of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture.

On the way from Guiyang to Kaili, you will take a visit to Qingyan Old Town (about 1 hour’s drive from Guiyang). It has legendary history once as a courier station and military fortress. This more than 600 years’ old town keeps the exquisite ancient dwelling houses, temples, city walls, gateways, etc. from Ming and Qing dynasties very well for your historical savory. This traditional old town in south China also surprisingly well keeps a series of religious buildings of Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and Catholicism to tell the cultural communication of Chinese and Western countries. Walk amongst the worn out paths polished by rains and steps to imagine the old life there. Besides, visit Former Residence of Number One Scholar Zhao Yijiong who was the first Number One Scholar in Guizhou Province during the imperial examination to feel the rich literal atmosphere in the courtyard, take beautiful photos of the symbolic Stone Archway and Dingguang Gateway, etc., roam at the Secluded Street paved with flagstones to travel back to the past centuries, appreciate closely the Guizhou rarely outstanding wood carvings at Shoufo Temple and stone carvings at Ciyun Temple, and feel the simple life with the shopkeepers busy for their lives.

Accommodate in Kaili City. 

Qingyan Ancient Town(1)Qingyan Old Town Ancient City Wall
Day 2 Kaili - Xijiang Miao Village (B, L)

After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. First, drive about 19 km (about 0.5 hour) to Matang Gejia Village, a primitive Miao village with over 400 Gejia people who are called the 57th ethnic group in China unofficially. According to the legend, Gejia people are the direct descendants of Hou Yi, a legendary hero who was said to shoot the nine scorching suns in order to save his people. Matang Village is famous for exotic attires, colorful festivals and countryside feelings. The women and girls here are specialized in batik that you can fully appreciate the uniqueness of the Gejia batik patterns and embroidery as well as the excellent craftsmanship of the villagers. If you are interested, you can learn how to make batik with wax from a local master and create your own batik work (optional experience). 

Later, you’ll be transferred about 47 km (about 1hr) to Langde Upper Miao Village which is reputed as “the Hometown of Chinese Folk Song and Dance Art”. It is with less crowds, peaceful natural atmosphere, friendly villagers and rich cultural heritage. Upon arrival at the village, you will be warmly treated with a traditional welcome ceremony by the beautiful ladies and girls dressed in traditional Miao costumes (long skirt). They will set twelve tables with “block-the-way” wine and you can taste the wine to feel their hospitality. Once the toasts are completed, you will continue to experience the singing and dancing performance at the Lusheng Ground. The men will play Lusheng and the ladies will dance. If you like, you can participate in the dance to enjoy more fun. 

After that, drive 23 km to Xijiang Miao Village, the largest Miao village in China and even in the world. Xijiang is composed of 10 villages, spreading over 50 square kilometers, with about 1,000 families and 6,000 people living here. The village is called a “living museum”, presenting you Miao ethnic culture vividly. There are two daily Miao song and dance performances, one is in the morning (11:30-12:10) and one is in the afternoon (16:30-17:10). Catch the rare chance to enjoy the lively performance at the village square. Some of the songs are joyful and uplifting while other are quite soulful and haunting (Note: the time for the performance may change slightly based on the real situation. Please confirm the exact schedule while you are there.). There are lots of streets and alleys winding around the village, and quiet clear rivers and Wind and Rain Bridges to cross over. You can try the local Guizhou snacks, browse the many shops or just enjoy a leisurely roam in the village and surrounding scenic areas and learn more about local Miao culture. When night falls, take a sightseeing bus to the viewing platform to catch a panoramic night view of the beautiful Xijiang. The lights of different houses twinkling in the dark make the night bewitching. 

Have a good sleep in Xijiang tonight.

Matang Gejia VillageXijiang Miao Village PerformanceKaili Xijiang Miao VillageXijiang Miao Village Night ViewUpper Langde Miao Village
Day 3 Xijiang Miao Village - Rongjiang (B, L)

Wake up joyfully in the morning. After breakfast, you’ll enjoy some peaceful time exploring in the village. Take a visit to Miao Nationality Museum which is made of eleven exhibition halls and houses wonderful displays of cultural artifacts, traditional dress, architectural marvels and works of art. If you like, you can get to the viewing platform again to shoot the panorama. You can also rent a traditional costume of the Miao people to take photos here if you are interested (optional experience). 

After visit the largest Miao village, you’ll head to Xinqiao Miao Village in Datang Town (about 36 km for 50mins’ driving). It is known for “the First Village with Short Skirt Miao” and the hundred-year-old Water Granary. Walking into the village, you can see the local women wearing a kind of pleated skirt about 5-8 inches, with colorful ribbons decorated at the waist. If you are lucky, you can enjoy they perform Jinji dance in traditional costumes. Don’t forget to have a look at the 47 granaries on water made of wooden which are used for protecting against fire and mouse while duck and goose are raised in the ponds. 

On the way to Rongjiang County, you will make a short visit to Zenlei Shui Village and Baibei Miao Village. Zenlei Shui Village, with a history of over 300 years, has a population about 250 in total. On the way to this picturesque village, you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the whole village - the traditional wooden houses situated at the hillside with rice terraces layer upon layer stretching to the Duliu River. Continue your driving to Baibei Miao Village. This village is featured as the high location, exquisite traditional “hundred-bird dress” and mysterious Miao King’s tomb. Catch the rare chance to shoot “hundred-bird dress” which is embroidered with colorful silk and bird feathers. It is the traditional dress for festivals and important occasions of Miao ethnic group. It takes local people several months to make a piece of hundred-bird clothing. 

After the tour, drive about 56 km for about 1 hour to Rongjiang County. Stay overnight there.

Kaili Ethnic Minority MuseumWooden Granaries on Water at Xinqiao Miao VillageZenlei Shui VillageGirls at Baibei Miao Village Wearing theirBeautiful Hundred-bird Dress
Day 4 Rongjiang - Jiabang Rice Terrace (B, L)

In this morning, your guide and driver will take you to Dali Dong Village in Rongjiang County. Dali Village is a quiet village with 400 ancient phoebes and over 40 are with a history over 500 years. Once you enter into the village through Wind and Rain Bridges, you’ll step on the ancient stone-paved path built in the reign of Qianlong in Qing Dynasty (1636-1912). All the buildings are built from wood and the most common of which are built as quadrangle dwellings. Don’t miss Yang Family Quadrangle Courtyard with over 200 years with 93 generations living here. Come to the center of the village to see the drum tower where performances are held at the square. If time permits, you can do a little hiking to the beautiful Sandie Waterfall about 2 kilometers away. 

After that, drive to Jiabang Rice Terraces (about 107 km from Biasha with 3 hours’ driving). Jiabang Rice Terrace, cultivated by the Miao people, is one of the most beautiful and the most mysterious rice terrace in China. It is composed of 10,000 acres, scattered in Dangniu, Jiaye, Jiache, Congkai, Pingyin, Jiabang, Baibei and Baidang villages. Start your visit from Dangniu Rice Terrace where you can see the rice terrace layer upon layer stretching from the valley to the hill, walk a little to Jiaya Rice Terrace with beautiful curves; move another 2 kilometers to Jiache Village and catch the best panorama at the viewing platform, and visit the magnificent Yangsongling Rice Terrace to view the screw terrace. (Note: Go April to early May for mirror-like irrigated terrace and rice transplanting scene; go in May for clouds with mists scene, go from May to mid-September for green terraces; go late September to early-October for golden and harvest scene.)

Jiabang Rice TerracesBeautiful Jiabang Rice Terraces SunsetDali Dong Village Panorama View
Day 5 Jiabang Rice Terrace - Congjiang - Zhaoxing (B, L)

In this morning, catch the precious moment to shoot many amazing pictures about the rice terraces. Every morning, when the cloud and mist rise above the river and field, Jiabang Rice Terrace becomes a fairyland on earth. 

Later, you’ll be transferred to Biasha Miao Village from Jiabang with 2.5 hours’ driving (87km). Biasha Miao Village is called as “the Last Gunslinger Village in China”. This is the only place in China where residents are still legally allowed to own and carry guns. The Biasha people are said to be the descendants of Chi You, a mythological warrior in ancient China, and have traditions dating back 2000 years. Men of Biasha dress as ancient warriors with black waistcoats and straight black trousers as well as swords, hunting dogs, and firelocks. Women of Biasha wear black pair shirts and pleated skirts, which are simple but embroidered with bright colors. Once getting into the village, you will witness the welcome ceremony - Biasha men line up and fire 3 shots to welcome guests! Later, enjoy the folk performance to learn more about Biasha culture, including customs of farming, hunting, ancestor-worshiping, gaming and marriage. You can even watch an amazing haircut ritual - a live shave with a sickle. If you have more time, you can take a walk around this beautiful village. 

In this afternoon, head to Huanggang Dong Village, a village considered as one of the most beautiful and traditional Dong villages in Guizhou. Huanggang, hidden in the mountains, built in ancient Song Dynasty (960-1297), has preserved the most authentic Dong culture. The villagers have had simple and unsophisticated ethnic life for hundreds of years. You can explore their local life and enjoy the unique architecture in the village. There are five drum towers standing in different directions and you can see the elders chatting in the tower or weaving their cloth. Festivals are special here - “Goddess of Thunder Worship Festival” and “Tai Guanren Festival”. If time is right, you can witness such a unique scene. (Note: For the exact time of the festivals, you can contact our travel consultants for more info.) 

After the tour, be transferred to Zhaoxing Dong Village for accommodation.

Huanggang Dong VillageHaircut Ritual at Biasha Miao Village - a Live Shave with a SickleBiasha Miao Village's Wooden Houses
Day 6 Zhaoxing - Congjiang Departure (B)

After breakfast, you’ll explore the largest Dong village in Guizhou - Zhaoxing Dong Village. Zhaoxing Village has been selected as “one of the six most beautiful countryside in China” and together with its drum towers were listed into the Guinness World Records in 2001. It is divided into 5 natural small villages, living in five different areas - which are called “Tuan” locally. Besides, there are five drum towers, five Wind and Rain Bridges and five stages setting in the village. Start your exploration from the village gate and get atop of the viewing platform to enjoy the panorama, where you can also clearly appreciate the five drum towers standing beautifully in the village. Afterwards, pay a visit to the Zhaoxing Dong Culture Museum to have a better understanding about Dong people and its culture in all aspects. Follow the route to visit Xin Tuan (means faith) with the highest drum tower at 25.9 meters, Zhi Tuan (means wisdom), Yi Tuan (means righteousness), Li Tuan (means Rritual) with the first drum tower in Zhaoxing built in 17th century and Ren Tuan (means benevolence). You won’t miss the great performance in this morning and watch the famous Grand Song of Dong People and other interesting programs. 

After that, you can choose to hike from Zhaoxing Dong Village to Tang’an Dong Village which needs about 2 hours or you can take the sightseeing bus there. If by hiking, you’ll pass by the intoxicating rice paddies and primitive Dong villages. In spring, the rice terraces are filled with water; in summer, green seedling grows well at the terraces; in autumn, the rice terraces are decorated with golden rice. Tang’an Dong Village is perched on hillside terraces and it is called the “living museum of Dong minority” with authentic feelings and beautiful landscape around. Visit the Eco Museum and enjoy more peaceful time in the village. 

After the tour, get back to Zhaoxing and your guide and driver will escort you to Congjiang Railway Station to catch your train to next destination. 

Departure Ideas: High speed trains are well connected Congjiang with Guiyang (1.5-2hrs), Guilin (about 1hr), Yangshuo (1-1.5hrs), Guangzhou (3.5-4 hours), Chengdu (about 5hrs), Chongqing (3.5-4hrs) and more destinations.

Zhaoxing Dong VillageTang'an Dong Village
6 Days Guizhou Ethnic Minorities & Villages Photography Tour Map

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Southeast Guizhou Photography Guide

Basha Miao Village Guizhou Miao Ethnic People Lusheng Festival in Guizhou

The Miao people are one of the most fascinating ethnic minorities in China. It is also the largest ethnic group in Guizhou. The Miaos are generally mountain-dwellers and their homes are wooden structures on stilts, with balustrades. A large Miao village can contain over 1000 families, with dwellings covering an entire mountain slope in overlapping rows and lines. The Dong ethnic group mainly lives in Congjiang, Rongjiang, Liping, etc. Their lifestyle is distinct and high-rise drum towers and roofed bridges are landmarks of their settlements.

Best Sites for Photography

Miao Ethnic Minority Villages

Enter into the Miao villages, you’ll see the Miaos dress in gaily embroidered silk costumes and full arrays of silver ornaments, including horned crowns, haripins, combsm earrings, bracelets and necklaces. There are several typical Miao villages covered in your Guizhou photography tour. They are Xijiang Miao Village and Basha Miao Village and other Miao villages. Please check them and find the top things to shoot in each village.

Xijiang Miao Village

Surrounded by mountains, Xijiang Miao Village is with 1300 households built on the terrace, with Baishui River flowing through. Photographers once getting into the village will see the Wind and Rain Bridge, stilt houses, Miao people in traditional clothing. Every day, there are performances like Miao dance arranged in the morning and afternoon. Photographers could take panoramic view and night view of Xijiang Miao Village on the viewing deck. It is good to go and shoot in the morning around 08:00 and in the late afternoon and evening.

Xijiang Miao Village

Basha Miao Village

The legendary Basha Miao people live in Basha Miao Village. Basha Miao people are the only authorized civil gunmen and the last “barbarians in China”. You could shoot the following scenes: Basha men stand in front of the village and playing Lusheng, use the gun shoot into the sky three times, men shave their hair with only the top left and combed in a bun, Lusheng dance in Lusheng Hall, etc. All the Basha Miao cultures and village life scene will come into your pictures.

Basha Miao Village

Dong Ethnic Minority Villages

The Dong people live by streams. Over the streams they build various styles of bridges, the most well-known being the roofed bridge called “Wind and Rain Bridge”. The drum tower is the landmark and center of Dong village. Most Dong houses are two-storey wooden building with corridors. The first is floor is domestic animals and the second floor is the living area. In this photography tour, you’ll shoot in the famous Zhaoxing Dong Village and other Dong villages in Rongjiang and Congjiang.

Zhaoxing Dong Village

Zhaoxing Dong Village is the biggest Dong Village in China. Clusters of stilt houses dot its tree-clad slopes, with a clear stream flowing through the village. Zhaoxing Dong Village is divided into five sections, with each section built one drum tower. These five sections represent benevolence, justice, courtesy, wisdom and faith. Photographers could shoot the five drum towers, Wind and Rain Bridge, Dong stilt buildings, and also capture the Kam Grand Choirs scene.

Zhaoxing Dong Village

Best Season for Photography

To visit Miao and Dong minority villages and enjoy the featured ethnic activities and performances, it is better to come during the festivals. Actually, Miao and Dong ethnic groups have festivals all the year around. The most famous ones are Lusheng Gathering in 11th-15th of first lunar month to enjoy Lusheng dance, antiphonal singing and bullfighting; Sisters’ Meal Festival in 15th-16th of third lunar month in Taijiang County to eat sisters’ rice, join in drum dance, play Lusheng and date; Miao New Year in 12th-13th in first lunar month to enjoy Lusheng playing, bullfighting, bronze drum beating and horse racing.

Tips from Our Experts

1. Xijiang Viewing Deck

It takes 10 minutes by walk from Xijiang Miao Village to its viewing deck across the mountains. Instead of walking, you could choose to take sightseeing bus to reach the viewing deck. Extra fees should be paid for the bus.

2. Xijiang Morning Photography

The best time to shoot Xijiang is in the morning around 08:00. At this time, you could capture the misty and mysterious Xijiang.

3. Xijiang Evening Photography

At night, every household at Xijiang Miao Village will turn on the light. The whole village will light up and it is very good to take photographs of the night view. It is better not put tripod in the plank road which is not steady for photographing.

4. Basha Photography

It is good to use telephoto lens to shoot the unique Basha Miao cultures and performances.

5. Bullfighting

It will be a little dangerous to shoot bullfighting and please make sure you are in safety distance. Don’t get too close to the bullfighting place for the water buffalo are ferocious.

6.Transfer Tips

It is good to get Guiyang by air and transfer to Kaili in southeast Guizhou by private car. Need to mention here, the Guangzhou-Guiyang high speed trains will pass Congjiang, Rongjiang, Guilin, Yangsuo that you could transfer to next destinations by train easily.

For more photography advice in Southeast Guizhou, you can feel free to contact us and we are here ready to help!

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