• Real China: Villages of the Southwest

    Immerse yourself in the diversity, arts and culture of southern China on this MTS-exclusive hiking trip

    The remote villages and hamlets of Guizhou make up one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse regions in China. On this trip we will have the opportunity to meet the traditional peoples, experience their culture and try your hand at their handicrafts. Then, to top it off, we will move onto Guangxi and be treated to the stunning karst landscapes reminiscent of a few locales in Southeast Asia. Life in this part of China moves at a different pace.  (This entire trip is below 6,000')

    best times to go: April - November

    departures: 3 scheduled datesview departures

    pricing: from $3,695 see detailed pricing

    Other Asia

Also great as a private trip. Call for details

Immerse yourself in the diversity, arts and culture of southern China on this MTS-exclusive hiking trip

In southern China, far away from the crowded streets of modern Beijing, the people of Guizhou and Guangxi provinces live close to nature and continue to embrace a traditional, bucolic way of life. Their villages represent a mosaic of diverse ethnicities and cultures amid some of the most exquisite landscapes of the entire country. Traversing along mist-covered mountains, green valleys, bamboo groves, and intricately terraced rice paddies, we will be quickly immersed in this magical place. We’ll enjoy hiking and biking while engaging in genuine, personal encounters with the locals—the kind of quality experience you can only get with MTS! Two families welcome you overnight in their homes, including a night in Baisha Miao, where villagers still live according to the customs and dress code of the Ming and Qing Dynasties! You’ll visit Miao and Dong villages in Guizhou—each one specializing in its own crafts. We’ll hike along rice paddies of Guangxi, explore the dramatic domes of Yangshuo, learn the art of Chinese cooking and still have enough time to take a bamboo raft along the Yulong River.


Hiking, cultural touring


  • Hike amidst southern China's most gorgeous scenery of sugarloaf domes, mist-covered mountains, lush green valleys, bamboo groves, and intricately terraced rice paddies on this MTS-exclusive itinerary
  • Designed for those who want to see the authentic, traditional China
  • Discover the incredibly diverse cultures, customs, and crafts of traditional, rural villages
  • Immerse yourself into the culture with two overnight stays with local families
  • Bike near Yangshuo, learn Chinese cooking and take a bamboo raft on the Yulong River

Duration: 11 days Start Location: Guiyang End Location: Guilin

Download Detailed Itinerary
  • Chi_day02_123_guiyang
    Day 1 : Bejing to Guiyang

    Arrive in Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou Province. Guiyang, which means “precious sunlight,” is situated on the east of Yunnan-Guiyang Plateau. Upon arrival, transfer to Old Han Village, home to the descendants of troops from Nanjing, where the people still dress in traditional Han costume. The villagers specialize in a type of local art, called “Ground Opera,” which means “theatre on the ground.” We will have the chance to watch a private opera show played by amateur villagers wearing hand-made masks, and afterwards learn how the opera masks are made. In the evening you are free to explore the night market.

    Note: The Ground Opera is located in a village 1.5 hours drive form Guiyang, and the show's total duration is about 1.5 hours.  If you want to take part in this activity, then you must arrive in Guiyang before 2 pm on this day.

  • Chi_day03_123_country
    Day 2 : Guiyang to Kaili

    Today we drive to Kaili, the capital of the Miao and Dong Minority Autonomous Region. It is the center of Miao minority culture, hosting more than 120 local festivals every year. The Miao people are known for arts and crafts, including jewelry, embroidery, brocade, batik and paper cutting. En route, we first stop at Shidong Village for a hike through green paddy fields to Xiaohe village, where there is an enchanting maze of old wooden houses and where we are able to see traditional silver ornaments being made. We then drive to Kaili. (3.5 - 4 hours driving; 3 hours hiking)

  • Chi_day04_123_kaili
    Day 3 : Kaili and Villages

    We visit several ethnic villages today. The first is Man Dong village, where 300 Miao families live.  This village is known for its Middle-Skirt Miao costumes. The second is Shi Qiao village, known for their traditional paper making process. Most families there still make their living by making paper. Then we visit the Gejia people, who are a subgroup of the Miao, and share a great many similarities. See their hand-made batik clothes and go for an easy hike through this lush and authentic village. In the afternoon, we transfer to Chong’an town to see the mill houses along the river, as well as incense making. Return to Kaili in the evening. (2.5 - 3 hours driving; 3-4 hours hiking)

  • Day 4 : Kaili to Leshan

    Morning transfer to Kaijue village and start hiking towards Xijiang Long-Skirt Miao Village, built on the slopes of separate hills.  Kaijue is the largest Miao village in China. The hike takes about 1.5 hours. After lunch in Xijiang village, we hike another 1.5 hours through layers of rice paddy fields to Baibi village, another Miao community. After visiting this village, we then drive to Leishan, the center of the Miao people, the largest ethnic group in the region. The highlight of our evening is a stay at a local family’s house in Paika village, famous for its Lusheng Pipe Making. These bamboo pipes are mostly played at festivals related to courtship, such as Lusheng Festival. We’ll stay with a family who has made Lusheng pipes for generations. There is an opportunity to make your own Lusheng Pipe and learn how to play!

  • Day 5 : Leshan to Rongjiang

    Today we drive to Datang village, a village that known for the really short skirts (about 4 - 8") worn by its women. We will hike from Datang to Taojiang. During the hike, we explore Mount Leigong and its variety of plants and wildlife. This hike takes 5-6 hours, the longest hike of the trip (the hike can also be adjusted to 2-3 hours, if guests prefer). Then drive to Rongjiang, the center of the Dong people for overnight stay. (2.5 - 3 hours driving; 5 - 6 hours hiking)

  • Chi_day08_123_xiaozhing
    Day 6 : Rongjiang to Zhaoxing

    We will transfer to Congjiang and visit Baisha Miao village, a major Miao village where they still retain the living customs and dress codes of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. We then drive to Tang’an Village, a small village with typical wooden houses surrounded by rice paddies.  Locals are Dong people who still maintain a traditional lifestyle. We start hiking towards the largest Dong Village, Zhaoxing. Zhaoxing is known for the historical minority architecture, including wind and rain bridges, five significant drum towers and theaters.There are several picturesque villages near Zhaoxing where Dong people live. (2.5 - 3 hours driving; 2-3 hours hiking)

  • Day 7 : Zhaoxing to Longsheng

    We will drive to visit Chengyangqiao Roofed Bridge, also named “Wind & Rain Bridge,” a classic example of Dong-style architecture. After lunch at Sanjiang, the border of Guizhou and Guangxi province, we drive to Guangxi's Longsheng rice terraces. Longsheng is famous for its rice terraces. We will enjoy stunning views of terraced paddy fields that rise up to 3000' and represent an amazing feat of farm engineering on hills dotted with minority villages. The best season is early spring before the rice is planted, and the autumn harvest season--both seasons have beautiful views for photography. Longsheng is also the home of the Yao minority people. The Yao women grow their hair more than 6 feet long. (4 - 4.5 hours driving; 1.5 - 2 hours hiking)

  • Chi_day09_bgstk_longsheng
    Day 8 : Longsheng

    We will take a hike around the rice terraces, following the trails used by the locals to reach their fields. These terraced slopes connect several Zhuang and Yao minority villages. (3 - 3.5 hours hiking)

  • Chi_day10_123_guilin
    Day 9 : Longsheng to Yangshuo

    We will hike along trails that traverse terraced slopes and see locals farming in the fields. We will pass villagers and their local wooden houses as we stroll. After lunch, transfer to Yangshuo, a picturesque and sleepy city surrounded by stunning karst scenery as a backdrop. In the evening enjoy free time to explore Yangshuo's West Street.  (3 - 3.5 hours driving; 3 - 3.5 hours hiking)

  • Chi_day13_123_yagshuo
    Day 10 : Yangshuo

    Take a morning hike up to Moon Hill for a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding jagged peaks.  Return to Yangshuo for a cooking class in a beautiful setting.  In the afternoon you have the option of bicycling through the nearby villages or relaxing on a bamboo raft on the Yulong River. (1 - 1.5 hours hiking; 1.5 - 2 hours biking)

  • Day 11 : Guilin - Departure

    After breakfast, transfer to Guilin Airport for flight to Beijing, or onwards. (1.5 - 2 hours driving)

Download Detailed Itinerary

DATES: Best time to go: April - November Departures: May 10 - 20, 2015 Jun 7 - 17, 2015 Aug 16 - 26, 2015


2014/2015 Prices

$3,695 (6 -15 members)
$4,695 (4-5 members)

$690 optional internal airfare – Beijing/Guiyang & Guilin/Beijing - subject to change
$900 single supplement

Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.

Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.

photo credits: ©MTS Photo File


Itinerary for Real China: Villages of the Southwest

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Activity Ratings


Many activities are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding sea kayaking and river rafting trips with Class I-II rapids.


More active trips involving hiking over moderate terrain, usually - but not always - with vehicle support and at elevations less than 10,000 feet, or trips with long hiking days, multiple sea kayaking days, wilderness camping, or other invigorating activity. On many trips, you can elect to skip a day's activity, depending on logistics. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips and river rafting trips with Class III rapids.


Hiking and trekking over steeper or more rugged terrain or where elevations may exceed 10,000 feet - often several days in a row. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips (4-5 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

Ultimate Challenge!

Our most demanding trips: trekking over steep, rugged terrain at high elevations (no vehicle support) or with substantial altitude gains and losses; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips. Includes our most demanding sea kayaking (5-7 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.


Departure Dates

May 10 - 20, 2015 Jun 7 - 17, 2015 Aug 16 - 26, 2015

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Emeryville, California 94608

Toll Free:1-888-831-7526