Real China: Villages of the Southwest | Mountain Travel Sobek

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Real China: Villages of the Southwest

Trip Length 11 days

From $4,295

  • Hike amid southern China's most gorgeous scenery: mist-covered mountains, lush green valleys, bamboo groves, and intricately terraced rice paddies on this MTS-exclusive itinerary
  • Discover the incredibly diverse cultures, customs, and crafts of traditional, rural villages, and experience two overnight homestays with local families
  • Bike near Yangshuo, learn authentic Chinese cooking, and enjoy bamboo rafting on the scenic Yulong River

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 mist-covered mountains, green valleys, bamboo groves, and intricately terraced rice paddies, you'll quickly be immersed in this magical place. 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, 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 relaxing bamboo raft along the Yulong River.

Day 1: Fly from Bejing to Guiyang

On your first day, you'll travel to Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou Province, situated on the east of Yunnan-Guiyang Plateau. After checking into the hotel, we'll drive 90 minutes to Jichang Old Han Village. (If you want to take part in this activity, you must arrive in Guiyang before 2pm.) This village is the home of descendants of troops who came here from Nanjing in the 14th century, and the residents 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 a private performance of this amateur opera with villagers wearing hand-made masks. Afterwards, we'll meet the villagers and learn how the opera masks are made. Upon our return to Guiyang, you are free to explore the Guiyang night market, with its local food, drink, and crafts.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sheraton Hotel

Day 2: Take a scenic drive to Kaili

We'll start our day by driving to Shidong Village for a hike through green paddy fields to Xiaohe village, where there's an enchanting maze of old wooden houses and we can see traditional silver ornaments being made. Afterwards, we'll 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.

(Hiking time: 3 hours; Driving time: 3½ to 4 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zongheng Hotel

Day 3: Visit traditional Miao villages

Today, we'll visit several ethnic villages. The first is Man Dong village (also known as Qing Man), home of 300 Miao families. The Miao are known for their colorful and elaborate costumes, and different groups are identified by the type and length of skirt they wear; in this village, the costumes are characterized by middle-length skirts.

Next, we'll visit Shi Qiao village, known for their traditional paper-making process that provides a living for most families there. Then we'll visit the Gejia people, who are a subgroup of the Miao and share a great many similarities with them. We'll see their hand-made batik clothes, then go for an easy hike through their green, tropical village and see villagers in their local dress. In the afternoon, we'll transfer to Chong’an town to see the mill houses along the river and get a demonstration into incense making, after which we'll return to Kaili.

(Hiking time: 2½ to 3 hours; Driving time: 3 to 4 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zongheng Hotel

Day 4: Enjoy village hikes and a homestay in Paika

In the morning, we'll transfer to Kaijue village and start off on our 90-minute hike towards Xijiang Long-Skirt Miao Village—the largest Miao village in China. After lunch in Xijiang village, we'll hike another 90 minutes through layers of rice paddy fields to Baibi village, another Miao community.

After visiting this village, we'll drive to Leishan, the center of the Miao people, the largest ethnic group in the region. The highlight of our evening is staying at a local family’s house in Paika village, famous for its bamboo pipes that are mostly played at festivals. We’ll stay with a family who has made Lusheng pipes for generations, and you'll be able to make your own and learn how to play it!

(Hiking time: 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 5: Hike a mountain route to Taojiang

Today we'll drive to Datang village, known for the really short skirts (about 4 - 8") worn by its women. From there, we'll hike through the mountains to Taojiang, exploring a variety of plants and wildlife on the way. We'll also have scenic views of Mount Leigong. This hike is the longest of the trip (5 to 6 hours) but can be adjusted to 2 to 3 hours, if guests prefer. We'll then drive to Rongjiang, the center of the Dong people, for an overnight stay.

(Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours; Driving time: 2½ to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Dongxiangmi Hotel

Day 6: Explore the Dong village of Zhaoxing

This morning, we'll 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'll then drive to a small village called Tang’an Village, where typical wooden houses are surrounded by rice paddies and local Dong people still maintain a traditional lifestyle. From there, we'll start hiking towards the largest Dong village, Zhaoxing. Zhaoxing is known for the historical architecture, including picturesque wind and rain bridges made to protect pedestrians from the elements, and elaborate, pagoda-like drum towers that are dramatically lit at night.

(Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours; Driving time: 2½ to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Post Lodge

Day 7: See the terraced paddy fields of Guangxi

We will head out to Tang'an Dong village on a dramatic descending hike.  We will have the chance to see an old drum tower and a 900-year old water well, operating since locals inhabited the area. If time permits, we will visit the Dong Museum in Zhaoxing.  Then we'll transfer to the high speed train station for our hour long train to Guilin.  In Guangxi we'll visit the rice terraces for which Longsheng is famous. We'll enjoy stunning views of terraced paddy fields that rise up to 3000 feet and represent an amazing feat of farm engineering. The best seasons for impressive views are the autumn harvest season and early spring, before the rice is planted. As a side note, Longsheng is also the home of the Yao minority people, where the women grow their hair more than six feet long.

(Hiking time: 1½ to 2 hours; Driving and train time: 4 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Lian Lodge

Day 8: Follow ancient trails around Longsheng

Today, we'll take a hike around the rice terraces of Longsheng, following the trails used by the locals to reach their fields. These terraced slopes were built over 600 years ago and connect several Zhuang and Yao minority villages. The fascinating scenery is well worth the hike, and we'll see how the terraces earned their nickname of the Dragon's Backbone: the summit resembles a dragon's spine, while the terraces give the impression of scales.

(Hiking time: 3 to 3½ hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Lian Lodge

Day 9: Explore picturesque Yangshuo

Leaving Longsheng, we'll hike along trails that traverse terraced slopes. As we stroll, we'll pass villagers and their wooden houses, and see locals farming in the fields. After lunch, we'll transfer to Yangshuo, a picturesque and sleepy city surrounded by stunning karst peaks. In the evening, we'll enjoy free time to explore the shops and restaurants along the oldest street in Yangshuo, West Street, which dates back 1,400 years!

(Hiking time: 3 to 3½ hours; Driving time: 3 to 3½ hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Day 10: Take a cooking class and bamboo raft on the Yulong River

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 right on the river. During the class we'll learn how to create four or five local specialities, including an appetizer, a vegetarian dish, and usually a fish and chicken dish. In the afternoon, you'll have the option of bicycling through the nearby villages, or relaxing on a bamboo raft on the Yulong River.

(Hiking time: 1 to 1½ hours; Biking time: 1½ to 2 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Day 11: Depart from Guilin

After breakfast, we'll take a 2-hour drive from Yangshuo to Guilin Airport for our flight to Beijing, or onwards.

  • Breakfast

May 10 - 20, 2018

Jun 13 - 23, 2018

Aug 16 - 26, 2018

pricing

2017 / 2018 Prices

$4,295 (4-15 members)

$1,000 single supplement

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Dongxiangmi Hotel — Rongjiang

Homestay


Lian Lodge — Longsheng


Post Lodge — Zhaoxing

Sheraton Hotel — Guiyang


Yangshuo Mountain Retreat — Yangshuo

This peaceful riverside retreat was originally conceived as a place to escape the chaos of China's mega-cities. The accommodations are simple, and allow for a true detox from modern life: no telephone, no TV, no distractions. The food is delicious in its simplicity, featuring a farm-to-table menu and great wines. At Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, guests can experience the beauty and serenity of Yangshuo, while taking heart in the hotel's commitment to sustainability.

Zongheng Hotel — Kaili

Centrally located in downtown Kaili beside the town square, the Zongheng Hotel offers modern accommodations for travelers on their adventure through China. The rooms are large and comfortable, and other amenities include Wi-Fi, a Chinese breakfast buffet, a bar, and a lounge area. Finally, friendly service makes this hotel a favorite among both domestic and international travelers.

"The Villages of Southwest China was an excellent trip. We had access to remote farming villages in Guizhou province and spoke, through our guide, with a number of villagers. MTS supplied a terrific guide who made the trip very special." Fred Geilfuss

"Spectacular scenery, great hiking, and fascinating conversations with villagers, often in their homes. This trip exceeded our expectations!" Anne Hamilton

"This trip is one of MTS's best trips, and we've been on nine MTS trips so far. Intimate contact with the Chineese people and deep imersion into the Chinese culture. Great guides and fantastic activities." Michael Miller     

"Beautiful, incredibly interesting trip of a lifetime." Jan Sauer

         

 

  • Hike amid southern China's most gorgeous scenery: mist-covered mountains, lush green valleys, bamboo groves, and intricately terraced rice paddies on this MTS-exclusive itinerary
  • Discover the incredibly diverse cultures, customs, and crafts of traditional, rural villages, and experience two overnight homestays with local families
  • Bike near Yangshuo, learn authentic Chinese cooking, and enjoy bamboo rafting on the scenic Yulong River

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 mist-covered mountains, green valleys, bamboo groves, and intricately terraced rice paddies, you'll quickly be immersed in this magical place. 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, 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 relaxing bamboo raft along the Yulong River.

reviews

"The Villages of Southwest China was an excellent trip. We had access to remote farming villages in Guizhou province and spoke, through our guide, with a number of villagers. MTS supplied a terrific guide who made the trip very special." Fred Geilfuss

"Spectacular scenery, great hiking, and fascinating conversations with villagers, often in their homes. This trip exceeded our expectations!" Anne Hamilton

"This trip is one of MTS's best trips, and we've been on nine MTS trips so far. Intimate contact with the Chineese people and deep imersion into the Chinese culture. Great guides and fantastic activities." Michael Miller     

"Beautiful, incredibly interesting trip of a lifetime." Jan Sauer

         

 

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Fly from Bejing to Guiyang

On your first day, you'll travel to Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou Province, situated on the east of Yunnan-Guiyang Plateau. After checking into the hotel, we'll drive 90 minutes to Jichang Old Han Village. (If you want to take part in this activity, you must arrive in Guiyang before 2pm.) This village is the home of descendants of troops who came here from Nanjing in the 14th century, and the residents 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 a private performance of this amateur opera with villagers wearing hand-made masks. Afterwards, we'll meet the villagers and learn how the opera masks are made. Upon our return to Guiyang, you are free to explore the Guiyang night market, with its local food, drink, and crafts.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sheraton Hotel

Day 2: Take a scenic drive to Kaili

We'll start our day by driving to Shidong Village for a hike through green paddy fields to Xiaohe village, where there's an enchanting maze of old wooden houses and we can see traditional silver ornaments being made. Afterwards, we'll 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.

(Hiking time: 3 hours; Driving time: 3½ to 4 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zongheng Hotel

Day 3: Visit traditional Miao villages

Today, we'll visit several ethnic villages. The first is Man Dong village (also known as Qing Man), home of 300 Miao families. The Miao are known for their colorful and elaborate costumes, and different groups are identified by the type and length of skirt they wear; in this village, the costumes are characterized by middle-length skirts.

Next, we'll visit Shi Qiao village, known for their traditional paper-making process that provides a living for most families there. Then we'll visit the Gejia people, who are a subgroup of the Miao and share a great many similarities with them. We'll see their hand-made batik clothes, then go for an easy hike through their green, tropical village and see villagers in their local dress. In the afternoon, we'll transfer to Chong’an town to see the mill houses along the river and get a demonstration into incense making, after which we'll return to Kaili.

(Hiking time: 2½ to 3 hours; Driving time: 3 to 4 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zongheng Hotel

Day 4: Enjoy village hikes and a homestay in Paika

In the morning, we'll transfer to Kaijue village and start off on our 90-minute hike towards Xijiang Long-Skirt Miao Village—the largest Miao village in China. After lunch in Xijiang village, we'll hike another 90 minutes through layers of rice paddy fields to Baibi village, another Miao community.

After visiting this village, we'll drive to Leishan, the center of the Miao people, the largest ethnic group in the region. The highlight of our evening is staying at a local family’s house in Paika village, famous for its bamboo pipes that are mostly played at festivals. We’ll stay with a family who has made Lusheng pipes for generations, and you'll be able to make your own and learn how to play it!

(Hiking time: 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 5: Hike a mountain route to Taojiang

Today we'll drive to Datang village, known for the really short skirts (about 4 - 8") worn by its women. From there, we'll hike through the mountains to Taojiang, exploring a variety of plants and wildlife on the way. We'll also have scenic views of Mount Leigong. This hike is the longest of the trip (5 to 6 hours) but can be adjusted to 2 to 3 hours, if guests prefer. We'll then drive to Rongjiang, the center of the Dong people, for an overnight stay.

(Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours; Driving time: 2½ to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Dongxiangmi Hotel

Day 6: Explore the Dong village of Zhaoxing

This morning, we'll 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'll then drive to a small village called Tang’an Village, where typical wooden houses are surrounded by rice paddies and local Dong people still maintain a traditional lifestyle. From there, we'll start hiking towards the largest Dong village, Zhaoxing. Zhaoxing is known for the historical architecture, including picturesque wind and rain bridges made to protect pedestrians from the elements, and elaborate, pagoda-like drum towers that are dramatically lit at night.

(Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours; Driving time: 2½ to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Post Lodge

Day 7: See the terraced paddy fields of Guangxi

We will head out to Tang'an Dong village on a dramatic descending hike.  We will have the chance to see an old drum tower and a 900-year old water well, operating since locals inhabited the area. If time permits, we will visit the Dong Museum in Zhaoxing.  Then we'll transfer to the high speed train station for our hour long train to Guilin.  In Guangxi we'll visit the rice terraces for which Longsheng is famous. We'll enjoy stunning views of terraced paddy fields that rise up to 3000 feet and represent an amazing feat of farm engineering. The best seasons for impressive views are the autumn harvest season and early spring, before the rice is planted. As a side note, Longsheng is also the home of the Yao minority people, where the women grow their hair more than six feet long.

(Hiking time: 1½ to 2 hours; Driving and train time: 4 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Lian Lodge

Day 8: Follow ancient trails around Longsheng

Today, we'll take a hike around the rice terraces of Longsheng, following the trails used by the locals to reach their fields. These terraced slopes were built over 600 years ago and connect several Zhuang and Yao minority villages. The fascinating scenery is well worth the hike, and we'll see how the terraces earned their nickname of the Dragon's Backbone: the summit resembles a dragon's spine, while the terraces give the impression of scales.

(Hiking time: 3 to 3½ hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Lian Lodge

Day 9: Explore picturesque Yangshuo

Leaving Longsheng, we'll hike along trails that traverse terraced slopes. As we stroll, we'll pass villagers and their wooden houses, and see locals farming in the fields. After lunch, we'll transfer to Yangshuo, a picturesque and sleepy city surrounded by stunning karst peaks. In the evening, we'll enjoy free time to explore the shops and restaurants along the oldest street in Yangshuo, West Street, which dates back 1,400 years!

(Hiking time: 3 to 3½ hours; Driving time: 3 to 3½ hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Day 10: Take a cooking class and bamboo raft on the Yulong River

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 right on the river. During the class we'll learn how to create four or five local specialities, including an appetizer, a vegetarian dish, and usually a fish and chicken dish. In the afternoon, you'll have the option of bicycling through the nearby villages, or relaxing on a bamboo raft on the Yulong River.

(Hiking time: 1 to 1½ hours; Biking time: 1½ to 2 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Day 11: Depart from Guilin

After breakfast, we'll take a 2-hour drive from Yangshuo to Guilin Airport for our flight to Beijing, or onwards.

  • Breakfast
lodgings

Dongxiangmi Hotel — Rongjiang

Homestay


Lian Lodge — Longsheng


Post Lodge — Zhaoxing

Sheraton Hotel — Guiyang


Yangshuo Mountain Retreat — Yangshuo

This peaceful riverside retreat was originally conceived as a place to escape the chaos of China's mega-cities. The accommodations are simple, and allow for a true detox from modern life: no telephone, no TV, no distractions. The food is delicious in its simplicity, featuring a farm-to-table menu and great wines. At Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, guests can experience the beauty and serenity of Yangshuo, while taking heart in the hotel's commitment to sustainability.

Zongheng Hotel — Kaili

Centrally located in downtown Kaili beside the town square, the Zongheng Hotel offers modern accommodations for travelers on their adventure through China. The rooms are large and comfortable, and other amenities include Wi-Fi, a Chinese breakfast buffet, a bar, and a lounge area. Finally, friendly service makes this hotel a favorite among both domestic and international travelers.

Dates and Pricing

May 10 - 20, 2018

Jun 13 - 23, 2018

Aug 16 - 26, 2018

pricing

2017 / 2018 Prices

$4,295 (4-15 members)

$1,000 single supplement

Activity Level Moderate
Trip Length 11 days

From $4,295

Interested in this adventure? Take the next step and book it!

Got questions?

Call us at 1-888-831-7526
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