Far from the crowded streets of modern Beijing, the ethnically and culturally diverse people of southern China embrace a traditional, bucolic way of life. On this epic MT Sobek adventure you'll hike and bike across exquisite mist-covered mountains, green valleys, bamboo groves, and intricate rice terraces. Overnight in two local homes, visit Miao and Dong villages in Guizhou, hike along rice paddies of Guangxi, explore the dramatic karst peaks of Yangshuo, learn the art of Chinese cooking - and still have enough time to take a relaxing bamboo raft along the Yulong River!
Hike, bike and raft among southern China's mesmerizing scenery on this exclusive itinerary.
Experience the incredibly diverse people, cultures, customs, and crafts of traditional, rural villages
Immerse yourself in the regional culture on two overnight homestays with local families
Travel to Guiyang, check into the hotel, then drive to Jichang Old Han Village. (To participate in this activity, arrive in Guiyang before 2pm.) Home to descendants of 14th-century troops who came from Nanjing, the village's residents still dress in traditional Han costume and specialize in a local art called "Ground Opera." After enjoying a private performance of this amateur opera, meet the villagers and learn how the handmade opera masks are produced. Back in Guiyang, explore the buzzing night market on your own.
Start your day with a drive to Shidong Village, then hike through green paddy fields to Xiaohe Village. Here there's an enchanting maze of old wooden houses, and you can watch artisans make traditional silver ornaments. Afterwards drive to Kaili, the capital of the Miao and Dong Minority Autonomous Region. Kaili is the center of Miao minority culture, hosting more than 120 local festivals every year. The Miao people - the largest ethnic group in the region - are known for arts and crafts, including jewelry, embroidery, brocade, batik, and paper cutting.
Visit several ethnic villages today, starting with Man Dong, home to 300 Miao families. The Miao are known for their varied, colorful and elaborate costumes. Next up is Shi Qiao Village, known for the traditional paper-making that sustains most resident families. Visit the Gejia people, a subgroup of the Miao, and see their handmade batik clothes. Then take an easy hike through their tropical village and see villagers in their local dress. In the afternoon, transfer to Chong'an to see the millhouses and an incense-making demonstration before returning to Kaili.
This morning, transfer to Kaijue Village and begin hiking toward Xijiang Long-Skirt Miao Village, the largest Miao village in China. After lunch in Xijiang Village, continue hiking through layers of rice paddy fields to Baibi Village, another Miao community. From here, drive to Leishan, the center of the Miao people. The evening highlight: staying overnight in a local family's house in Paika Village, famous for its bamboo lusheng pipes. Your host family has made lusheng pipes for generations - and you'll make your own and learn how to play it!
Today you drive to Datang, aptly known as Short Skirt Miao Village for the women's uniquely short skirts (about 4-8"). From there, hike through the mountains to Taojiang, exploring a variety of plants and wildlife on the way. You'll also have scenic views of Mt. Leigong (7,182'). This hike is the longest of the trip (5 to 6 hours) but can be adjusted to 2 to 3 hours, if the group prefers. After the hike, drive to Rongjiang, the center of the Dong people, for an overnight stay.
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. Drive to small Tang'an Dong Village, where typical wooden houses are surrounded by rice paddies and the local Dong people maintain a traditional lifestyle. From here, start hiking towards the largest Dong village, Zhaoxing, known for its historical architecture, including picturesque wind and rain bridges, and elaborate, pagoda-like drum towers that are dramatically lit at night.
Return to Tang'an Dong Village on a dramatic descending hike and see an old drum tower and a 900-year old water well. Time permitting, visit the Dong Museum in Zhaoxing as well. Transfer to the high-speed train station for our rail journey to Guilin. Once in Guangxi, visit the stunning terraced paddy fields for which Longsheng is famous - they rise up to 3,000 feet and represent an amazing feat of farm engineering. The most impressive views are in the autumn harvest season and early spring, before the rice is planted.
Hike around the spectacular rice terraces of Longsheng today, 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. (As an interesting side note, Yao women grow their hair to more than six feet long.) The fascinating scenery is well worth the hike, and you'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.
Leaving Longsheng, hike along easy trails that traverse terraced slopes. As you stroll, pass villagers and their wooden hillside houses, and see locals farming in the fields. After lunch, transfer to Yangshuo, a picturesque and sleepy city surrounded by stunning karst peaks. In the evening, enjoy free time to explore the shops and restaurants along the oldest street in Yangshuo, West Street - which dates back 1,400 years!
A lovely day is in store! Take a morning hike up to Moon Hill for a bird's-eye view of the surrounding jagged peaks. Return to Yangshuo for an authentic Chinese cooking class in a beautiful riverside setting. During the class, learn how to create four or five local specialties, including an appetizer, a vegetarian dish, and usually a fish and chicken dish. After your self-prepared lunch, you have the option of bicycling through the nearby villages or relaxing on a bamboo raft ride on the incredibly serene Yulong River.
After breakfast, bid farewell to this magical land as you transfer from Yangshuo to Guilin Airport for your flight to Beijing or beyond.
MT Sobek has been crafting unique adventures in less-traveled corners of China since 1980.
Our expert team of local guides offer deep and compelling immersion into Chinese culture.
Adventurers looking to blend active daily pursuits with cultural touring will love this exclusive MT Sobek journey through China.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Moderate daily hikes up to 3 hours per day with cultural touring by private van. Also enjoy biking, bamboo rafting, and a cooking class.
Comfortable and simple accommodations in small towns, plus two nights at the beautiful boutique Li-An Lodge in Guilin.
Spring daytime average is 87°F; spring nighttime average is 69°F. Fall temperatures are 5-10°F cooler. Rain is always possible.
Our MT Sobek representative will meet you on arrival at the Guiyang Airport.
No, we are not able to handle your visa, but provide you with all the necessary documentation to handle on your own or through a visa service.
All of the hotels and lodges, and even the homestay will have Wi-Fi.
The group transfer is scheduled for about 8:00am. It takes 1.5 - 2 hours to get there, so please schedule departure flights after 12:00pm.
Yes, it is.
With advanced notice, almost any diet can be accommodated. Please let your Adventure Coordinator know what your dietary restrictions are.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"Spectacular scenery, great hiking, and fascinating conversations with villagers, often in their homes. This trip exceeded our expectations!"
MT Sobek Guest, Real China: Villages of the Southwest
"Beautiful, incredibly interesting trip of a lifetime."
MT Sobek Guest, Real China: Villages of the Southwest