Explore Guizhou and Guangxi Provinces: Journey through China's south
Travel from Chengdu through Guizhou Province to YangshuoMap
Travel to Chengdu - Capital of Sichuan Province in China
Thanks to the direct flights from Europe to Chengdu, a trip to the 8 million metropolis Chengdu in the west of China has become even easier. Chengdu, the capital of the varied and scenically unique Sichuan province, is located in the western part of the fertile Sichuan Basin.
The city of Chengdu is a city with many exciting contrasts. In the countless side streets and alleyways between the glass skyscrapers and modern shopping centers, one still finds the "old" Chengdu with its typical hairdresser's shops, noodle shops and tiny local markets.
If you are planning a trip to China, it is well worth spending a few days in Chengdu. Thanks to the modern subway and a well-developed network of city buses, it is quite easy to find your way around Chengdu – ideal to explore the city on your own. The actual center of the city is Tianfu Square with a huge Mao statue. Here also the two subway lines 1 and 2 cross each other.
The name Chengdu means literally translated the "accomplished capital". The foundation time of Chengdu goes back to the 4th century B.C. However, the area around Chengdu and the Sichuan basin were settled much earlier. Only 70 km north of Chengdu is the interesting excavation site Sanxindui, one of the most important archaeological sites in China. In 1986, numerous masks and statues made of bronze as well as numerous valuable objects made of gold and jade were found during the excavations. The finds suggest that the area around Sanxindui was the capital of a kingdom called "Shu" about 3000 years ago.
China trip: City tour Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province
During your China trip it is worth to reserve a few days for the exploration of the city Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province in Western China. Thanks to the modern infrastructure, Chengdu can easily be explored on your own. However, due to the size of Chengdu it may be wise to book a hotel near a subway station. Another more convenient option is to book a Chengdu city tour with us in advance.
Together with your local tour guide you will explore the metropolis of Chengdu by public transport or by private vehicle. On a city tour through Chengdu you get to know the two most important temples of Chengdu and learn from your guide many interesting facts about the city and its secrets. Of course, a visit to a Sichuan opera as well as a typical Sichuan restaurant with a traditional Sichuan hot pot is also part of the city tour.
Of course, a Chengdu city tour would not be complete without the visit of the most famous inhabitant of Chengdu: The Giant Panda Bear. The Panda Reserve is located north of Chengdu and can be well combined with a visit to the rather unknown but impressive Baoguang Temple.
For history enthusiasts we recommend a visit to the Sanxindui excavation site, which is about 1 hour's drive north of the Chengdu Panda Station. At Sanxindui numerous valuable gold and jade objects were found during excavations in 1986. Archaeologists rank Sanxindui among the most important excavation sites in China.
China Trip: by highspeed train from Chongqing to Kaili in Guizhou Province
A trip to China by rail is a very special experience. The journey in the modern highspeed trains (CRH = China Rail Highspeed Train), which roar across China at over 250 km/h, is very comfortable and time-saving. From Chengdu, your journey through China continues by taking the CRH train to Dazu. The journey from Chengdu to Dazu takes only 1.5 hours.
The Buddhist caves of Dazu are located west of Chongqing. This extraordinary collection of stone sculptures was created between the 9th and 13th centuries and contains over 10,000 figures, all carved from the rock. They are among the most impressive stone sculptures of their kind in the world. In 1999 the stone sculptures of Dazu were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
From Dazu your journey continues by highspeed train to Guiyang and on to Kaili in the Guizhou province. Guiyang is the capital of the province Guizhou in the south of China.
Journey to the Guizhou province in the south of China.
For a long time, the Guizhou province in the south of China was considered one of the poorest areas of China. However, over the past 10 years, the central government in Beijing has pumped massive amounts of money into Guizhou Province. Modern motorways, dams and new residential towers and skyscrapers were built in the capital Guiyang. With the connection to the high-speed network of the Chinese railway, Guizhou is now also much easier to reach than before.
Despite its modernization, Guizhou Province remains one of the poorer provinces of China, with the added flaw that Guizhou Province is now also one of China's most indebted provinces.
The city of Guiyang is the capital of Guizhou and has about 4.5 million inhabitants. Despite the rapid modernization in recent years, Guiyang is a very pleasant, green city.
If one takes a side trip into the small alleys behind the modern facades, one still finds the old Guiyang with its typical cooking stalls, street markets and hairdresser's shops.
During a trip to Guiyang it is worthwhile to visit the Hongfu Temple, which is located at the northwestern edge of the city. Built in 1667 during the Ming Dynasty, the Hongfu Temple is the largest Zen Buddhist temple in Guizhou Province.
Guizhou: Trip to the Dong and Miao ethnic minorities in China
A trip to Guizhou has long been an insider tip for China travelers. Despite the modernization, a trip to the Guizhou province has lost nothing of its excitement and many of the areas have managed to keep their charm despite increasing numbers of tourists. Moreover, one should not forget that for many families, the tourism has become a livelihood. If one deviates a little from the main route, one finds oneself mostly alone in the middle of the fairytale-like karst landscapes that are typical for the Guizhou province in the south of China. The small Dong and Miao villages of the Guizhou province between the rice fields and the steeply rising karst hills seem almost magical. On your Guizhou trip you will visit numerous villages of the Miao as well as the Dong ethnic minorities.
The Miao ethnic minority is one of the largest of the 55 officially recognized ethnic groups in China. The Miao ethnic group can be found mainly in the provinces Guizhou, Sichuan, Hunan, Yunnan and Guangxi, thus in the southern, warmer part of China. Such a wide distribution of the Miao over the entire south of China with its different influences of the respective region led inevitably to different developments in dialects, names and clothes.
The somewhat smaller Dong ethnic minority can be found mainly in the provinces Hunan, Guizhou and Guangxi, thus in the south of China. The Dong probably immigrated from the north to the area of Guizhou during the Song Dynasty. Traditionally, agriculture is the main source of income for the Dong ethnic minority. Until 1949 the Dong had no written language.
It was only in 1958 that philologists sent by the central government helped to develop a written Dong language based on the Latin alphabet. Characteristic for the Dong villages to this day are the striking "wind and rain bridges" as well as the drum towers traditionally built of wood. Originally the drum hanging inside the towers was supposed to warn the villagers in case of danger, but today these magnificent wooden buildings are mainly used as meeting places for the villagers.
The Guizhou Province: Journey to the home of Maotai
On a China trip through the Guizhou province you will sooner or later come across the "Baijiu". The Chinese love it, the majority of foreigners, who come into contact with Baijiu for the first time, often grimace of dislike after enjoying it. Baijiu literally means "white alcohol", has a quite high alcohol content of over 50 percent and is usually distilled from grain.
The most famous "Baijiu" is the Maotai. In China Maotai (or Moutai) is known as "the national liqueur". The name Maotai comes from the name of the village in the Guizhou province where the Maotai liqueur is produced. The "real" Maotai is produced at Kweichow Moutai Co, Ltd, the country's most famous Baijiu distillery. In 2018, the Kweichow Maotai distillery, with 142 billion dollars, was ranked 55th among the world's largest companies in terms of market capitalization, ahead of McDonalds and IBM.
A Maotai can only be called Maotai if the ingredients - especially red sorghum and water - come from the surroundings of Maotai city. The city of Maotai has a unique climate: mild winters and hot summers, little wind and rain, but high temperatures and humidity. The Maotai distillery region lies on the upper reaches of the Chishui River, where the water is purest and there is a high concentration of micronutrients, giving the liqueur its unique, spicy taste.
Maotai is distilled from fermented red sorghum. Only "gold grains" that are hard, firm, even and thin-skinned are selected for harvesting. The fermentation begins with the production of a "Qu", a Chinese fermentation agent (also called "starter" in some countries), which is made from cereals and legumes that are naturally fermented with a variety of molds, microorganisms and, typically little yeast, and then dried and formed to a ready-to-use brick. These mini ecosystems not only give a great depth of taste, they are also efficient. While Western breweries convert the starch of a grain into sugar before adding yeast to initiate fermentation, "Qu" simplifies the process in a single step. The resulting beverages are potent, with rich flavors, sometimes as sweet as a port wine or smoky as an Islay whiskey. The unique character and taste of Maotai is mainly due to this "Qu".
Like other Baijiu, and unlike western spirits, Maotai is firmly fermented and firmly distilled. It never goes through a washing process like a whisky. Maotai production is a labor-intensive process that involves several fermentation and distillation cycles over the course of a year. The distillates produced at each stage have their own unique characters. They are sorted, stored and aged separately before mixing. Up to 100 different aged spirits can be processed into the finished Maotai.
The Maotai is served at all Chinese state banquets and is often presented as a diplomatic gift. The Maotai (Muotai) became famous mainly through Mao Zedong, who allegedly made a toast to the foundation of the People's Republic with a glass of Maotai during the state banquet on 1 October 1949.
More than 20 years later the Maotai is said to have made his contribution on the occasion of the state visit of US President Richard Nixon in 1972 to the loosening of the then tense diplomatic relations between the two countries.
On the occasion of his state visit to the USA in 2013, the head of state and party, Xi Jinping, also brought along Baijiu of the Maotai brand as a gift for US President Barack Obama.
Trip to Dazhai to the travel terraces of Longsheng in Guangxi Province, China
Your journey continues from Guizhou Province into Guangxi Province. With the high-speed train your first stop is Sanjiang in the Guangxi province. From Sanjiang your journey continues with a private vehicle to the terraces of Longsheng. The starting point for visiting the Longsheng rice terraces is the village of Dazhai. The area around the Longsheng rice terraces is home to the Dong, Zhuang, Yao and Miao ethnic groups.
The locals call the Longsheng rice terraces the "backbone of the dragon" because the terraced rice fields meander through the landscape like dragons. The Longsheng rice terraces are well suited for extended hiking.
On your journey for example you hike from the mountain village Tiantouzhai to Ping'An. Those who do not want to hike can also reach the Longsheng rice terraces of Dazhai with a cable car.
In Dazhai there are numerous simple guesthouses. During your journey to the Longsheng rice terraces you will stay overnight at the village of Tiantouzhai in the middle of the rice terraces. The Tiantouzhai guesthouse can only be reached on foot via a 1.5 hours ascent.
Day 1: ARRIVAL IN CHENGDU, CAPITAL OF THE SICHUAN PROVINCE IN CHINA
Arrival in Chengdu. The 8 million metropolis Chengdu is the capital of the diverse province Sichuan in the southwest of China.
Despite its incredible dimensions, the glass skyscrapers, the western fast food restaurant chains and the countless modern shopping centers, it is still possible to find the "old" Chengdu with its countless small colorful side streets with traditional flea and street markets, typical hairdressers and local restaurants, which form an exciting contrast to the modern Chengdu.
Time to freshen up a bit. Afterwards you make a first exploration tour together with your guide through Chengdu.
Visit the historic Taoist Qingyanggong Temple, which dates back to the Zhou Dynasty (1122-221 B.C.). Continue to the wonderful Wenshu temple. The Wenshu Temple is the largest temple complex in Chengdu and is dedicated to the God of Wisdom. Its origins go back to the 7th century.
Later you take a walking tour through the picturesque Kuangxiang Street, a pedestrian street with numerous handicraft and souvenir shops. Restored in 2008 the Kuangxiang Street is one of the oldest commercial streets of Chengdu. There are also numerous snack bars where you can try the local delicacies.
Day 2: CITY TOUR OF CHENGDU, CHINA
In the morning drive to the Giant Panda Reserve, which is located just outside Chengdu. In the morning, the panda bears are particularly active, and you have the opportunity to observe these amazing endangered animals in an almost natural environment during their bamboo breakfast.
Drive to Baoguan Monastery, located in the northern part of Chengdu. The origins of Baoguan Monastery go back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when Buddhism began to spread in China, the Baoguan Monastery gained importance and became a significant Buddhist center of the region.
Continue to Sanxindui.
The spectacular archaeological site of Sanxindui is located 40km northeast of Chengdu and is considered by experts to be one of the most important archaeological sites in China. Sanxindui has over 3000 years of history and was probably once the capital of a state called "Shu". You visit the museum, where over 5000 artefacts are exhibited.
In the evening you visit a Sichuan opera. This colorful mixture of singing, music, acrobatics, puppetry and mask dancing is a must when visiting Chengdu. A very special feature of the Sichuan Opera is the "change of face", where the actors change the colorful face masks up to 10 times within 20 seconds, without the audience even noticing!
Overnight accommodation in Chengdu.
Day 3: CHENGDU – TRAVEL BY HIGH SPEED TRAIN TO DAZU
Transfer to Chengdu train station and travel by high-speed train in less than 1.5 hours to Dazu.
Pick up at the train station. Drive to the remarkable Buddhist Dazu caves. This extraordinary collection of stone sculptures was created between the 9th and 13th centuries and contains over 10,000 figures, all carved from the sheer rock.
The Dazu rock carvings are among the most impressive stone sculptures of their kind in the world. In 1999 the stone sculptures of Dazu were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Afterwards transer for your hotel. Overnight stay near the Dazu Grottos.
Day 4: DAZU – TRAVEL BY HIGH-SPEED TRAIN TO KAILI – ZHENYUAN
In the morning drive to the Dazu railway station. Travel with the modern high-speed train (CRH) in approx. 3 hours to Kaili in the Guizhou province, east of Guiyang, the capital of the Guizhou province.
For a long time, the Guizhou Province was considered the poorest province of China. The situation has improved dramatically in the last 10 years.
Massive sums of money were pumped from Beijing into Guizhou Province, which were invested by the local government in infrastructure projects such as trains, motorways and power plants.
Pick-up at Kaili railway station and drive by private car to the historic town of Zhenyuan .
Check-in at the hotel. Walking tour through the old town of Zhenyuan.
Day 5: ZHENYUAN
The 2000-year-old town of Zhenyuan stretches along both sides of the Wuyang River and during the Ming Dynasty was once a fortified outpost guarding the trade routes to central China. During the Ming Dynasty, Zhenyuan was an important trading post on this trade route and numerous businessmen settled down and brought considerable prosperity to the city.
You will take a walk through the tranquil old town.
Afterwards you visit the "Qinglong Cave", a temple complex, which nestles on the opposite side of the river at the slopes of the Zhonghe mountain. The temple was built in the Ming Dynasty and is today one of the few places which interestingly serves the three religions Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism at the same time as a place of worship.
In the afternoon you make a boat trip on the Wuyang river. Overnight stay in Zhenyuan.
Day 6: GUIZHOU TRAVEL: ZHENYUAN – LANGDE
Today's journey through the Guizhou province takes you to Langde. On the way you will visit some less visited Dong and Miao villages. The Miao ethnic minority belongs to the largest of the 55 ethnic groups in China.
The Miao ethnic group can mainly be found in the provinces Guizhou, Sichuan, Hunan, Yunnan and Guangxi, thus in the southern, warmer part of China. Such a wide spread of the Miao over the entire south of China with its different influences of the respective regions led inevitably to different developments in dialects, names and clothes.
Upon arrival in Langde, you will stay with a local family. The Miao village of Langde is situated on a hill in the middle of an idyllic karst landscape crossed by countless rivers and streams. Walk through the village of Langde. Overnight stay in Langde.
Day 7: CHINA TOUR: LANGDE, GUIZHOU PROVINCE
In the morning you will have time to explore the Miao village of Langde. You will take part in a traditional welcoming ceremony. Traditionally at Lange, visitors are greeted with the ceremony of the "locked door", where the visitor is greeted by singing Miao women. In return, the visitor must sing a song for the girls to be let through the wooden door.
The Miaos are one of the most hospitable ethnic groups in China. The history of the Miao goes back over 4000 years, to the time of the legendary war between the Yellow Emperor and Chiyou, a local tribal leader. It is generally believed that the Miao are descendants of Chiyou's troops who lost the battle and settled in the area about 2000 years ago from an area north of the Yellow River.
Your tour guide will give you an insight into the rich Miao culture.
You continue to the village of Jidao, which is only a short drive north of Langde. The inhabitants of the village Jidao are also known as Long-Skirt Miao, because their women wear traditional long skirts. You take a walk through the village before returning to Langde.
Day 8: LANGDE – RONGJIANG
Continue south on the road S308 through the beautiful Lei Mountains, past dense pine forests, endless terraced rice fields and picturesque villages.
On the way you will visit various Dong villages with their characteristic drum towers. Despite the rapid modernization, many of these villages managed to retain their original village character. In the middle of every Dong village stands the drum tower.
Originally the drum or bell which hung in such drum towers was supposed to warn the local villagers in case of danger, but today these magnificent wooden buildings are mainly used as a meeting point for the villagers.
You stroll through some of the villages and learn more about the rich Dong culture.
Arrival in Rongjiang. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay.
Day 9: RONGJIANG – SANGJIANG – LONGSHENG RICE TERRACES (DAZHAI) – TIANTOUZHAI
In the morning transfer to the Rongjiang train station. Train ride by high-speed train to Sanjiang. From Sanjiang you travel to the Longsheng rice terraces near Dazhai.
Dazhai is the starting point to the impressive rice terraces of Longsheng and is home to the Zhuang ethnic minority. Longji "The backbone of the dragon" is what the locals call the rice terraces because the terraced rice fields meander through the landscape like a dragon.
Afterwards you hike through the wonderful rice terraces up to the village Tiantouzhai, which is located high above the Dazhai valley. Check-in at the hotel.
In the afternoon you have free time for a walk on your own through the extensive rice terraces. Overnight stay in Tiantouzhai.
Day 10: TIANTOUZHAI – HIKING TOUR TO PING’AN – TRAVEL TO YANGSHUO
Simple breakfast in local style. From Tiantouzhai you walk for 4-5 hours through the beautiful landscape towards Ping'An (easy hiking).
In Zhongliu you will have lunch with a local Yao ethnic minority family. The Yao women are known for their long hair. Traditionally, Yao women cut their hair only once in a lifetime, when they reach the age of 16. The length of the Yao women's hair has even earned them an entry in the Guinnes Book of Records.
You reach Ping' An in the early afternoon. Time for a walking tour through the car-free mountain village. At the parking lot of Ping'An your driver is waiting for you for the 3-hour drive to Yangshuo.
Check-in at your hotel, which is located just outside Yangshuo in a small village. Overnight in Yangshuo.
Day 11: YANGSHUO
Drive to Xianggongshan. A 15 minutes’ walk up a well-maintained footpath brings you up the Xianggongshan, from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Li River and the surrounding karst landscape. Afterwards you hike for about 2 hours through beautiful countryside to Xingping.
Take a walk through the old town of Xingping. Many of the old buildings of the former fishing village date from the late Ming Dynasty. In Xingping you board a motorized "raft" and cruise upstream through the wonderful karst landscape at a leisurely pace.
The unique landscape around Xingping serves even as a motive on the 20RMB note. After approx. 1 hour you head back to Xingping and drive back to your hotel in Yangshuo. Overnight stay at Yangshuo.
Day 12: YANGSHUO
Bike tour to the moon mountain. From your hotel you cycle with your rental bikes through the beautiful karst-landscape of Yangshuo, partly along the Yulong River to the Moon Mountain (15km/approx. 2 hours, flat). On the way there will be many photo opportunities.
The moon mountain has its name from the circular hole in its summit, which, with a bit of imagination, indeed looks like a full moon. Over the 800 steps you climb up to the summit of the Moon Mountain, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding karst landscape.
Afterwards you cycle back to your hotel in Yangshuo in about 45 minutes. The rest of the afternoon is at your free disposal.
Day 13: YANGSHUO – GUILIN DEPARTURE
Transfer to Guilin airport or train station. Fly to Chengdu or travel by express train to Hong Kong (Kowloon West Station) in just over 3 hours.
"...I can highly recommend this trip. Especially Guizhou is still "off the beaten track"..."
Luke from U.K.
"...we loved the hotel you have chosen for us in Yangshuo...the staff was really nice..."
Maggie from U.S.