Kaili to Yangshuo
Southeast Guizhou & Northeast Guangxi Minority Tour
Location: Southeast Guizhou and Northeast Guangxi
This is one of China's best and most rewarding backpacking routes, offering good returns for time, effort and expense to those who love to explore Chinese countryside and cultural diversity.
Although you can also make it from Yangshuo to Kaili, we highly recommend you start in Guizhou and end the trip in Yangshuo, thus you can enjoy real leisure time in Yangshuo without being worried of the harsh road ahead, "bitter first, then sweet", unless you are already in somewhere of Guangxi.
Ethnic minority culture / Rice terrace / Karst featured landscape
China's cultural variety is so concentrated in the southeast of Guizhou and northeast Guangxi where different ethnic minorities inhabit peacefully. Generally, Miao villages are scattered on slopes while Dong villages set along river valleys. Most minorities have their own peculiar traditions with guests. The most common traditions that one will encounter relate to dining and living practices.
Dining - The Dongs' tradition is that the womenfolk do not dine at the same table with their guests. They will dine after the guests had finished their meals. The meals are normally accompanied by rice wine. The Miaos womenfolk do dine with their guests. As with Dongs, meals are accompanied by rice wine. The Miaos are great drinkers and they normally consume generous amounts of wine during dinner especially when there are guests.
Living - Both Dongs and Miaos have a tradition of not allowing their male and female guests in the same room. This applies to married couples as well; even married relatives must sleep in different rooms. It is believed that ancestors will be unhappy when guests of different genders stay in the same room.
Except Yangshuo and Kaili, all the towns and villages rarely have any real star-standard hotels. So-called "luxury" hotels that are supposedly of 2 or 3-star quality are normally owned by local governments. Unfortunately few of these live up to their star ratings. Furthermore, most of them are located far away from bus stations. Group tourists and guests of local government frequent these hotels.
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple but clean hostels near bus stations in towns or ethnic villages on this route, offering double room with hot shower and flush toilet at Y20~Y60 for backpackers and other budget travelers.
Guiyang-> Zhenyuan-> Kaili-> Leishan-> Xijiang-> Leishan / Kaili-> Rongjiang-> Zengchong-> Congjiang-> Zhaoxing-> Sanjiang-> Longsheng-> Guilin-> Yangshuo
Route Map : Southeast Guizhou Travel Map
1. Guiyang-> Zhenyuan
Train is the most convenient way to get to Zhenyuan from Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou. 5hrs/Y36, high frequency.
Try to avoid Guiyang if you can. There are direct sleeper trains departing at 22:00 from Guangzhou and arriving in Zhenyuan at 16:00 next day. Or you can take a train from other cities to Guiyang then change to Zhenyuan right away.
Details about Zhenyuan.
2. Zhenyuan-> Kaili-> Leishan
It takes about 1.5hrs by train / Y9 from Zhenyuan to Kaili. There isn't too much to see in Kaili city itslef( Kaili City Map). A few ethnic minority villages around Kaili, such as Langde village and Ge minority, deserve a glance. After visiting Langde, you may choose to head for Xijiang from Leishan or return to Kaili for an overnight stay. Plent of hotels available in Kaili, Y20/dorm. or Y80~100/std. rm
3. Leishan/Kaili-> Xijiang
Xijiang is a large-scale beautiful Miao village on route worthy of exploring. You can either thumb for a Kaili-> Xijiang bus beside the road at Leishan, the journey takes 1.5hrs for Y9. Or, return to Kaili Bus Station to catch a Xijiang bus, Y15 / 2hrs, rough road.
Best accommodation in Xijiang is Miaozhai Renjia, ideal location, new wooden building, well-decorated in Miao style, Y15/dorm, Y60/std. trpl., with shower and flush toilets.
4. Xijiang-> Leishan-> Rongjiang
From Xijiang, there are buses leaving for Leishan and Kaili from 6:20am, the latest one departs at 2:30pm.
Rongjiang bus can either be thumbed in Leishan or taken in Kaili. Though Leishan is closer, it' s a little less straightforward as the bus doesn't stop at the bus station. The through-bus route stays north of the river, bypassing downtown at the turnplate beside the central parterre(zhongxin Huatan). If you are not sure, the secure way is to walk to the petrol station at the far south edge of town where all routes converge. The 4 hour trip to Rongjiang is paved but bumpy and windy.
5. Rongjiang-> Tingdong-> Zengchong
There are 3 Dong villages in Rongjiang, which you can have a quick look or just skip. Rongjiang is more dropped by as a stopover to Tingdong for Zengchong or to Liping and Congjiang. Rongjiang Tourism Map
Zengchong is a gorgeous Dong village with a crowned drum tower, the place was rarely mentioned by travel guidebooks, access is not so easy, but very worth a visit. For details, pls refer to our destination guide Zengchong.
6. Rongjiang-> Congjiang
2hrs comfortable journey along the riverside with nice view. Congjiang is an ordinary small town but a base for visiting Biasha Miao village /Gaozeng and Xiaohuang Dong villages. It's also a traffic hub with Rongjiang 80km in the west, Zhaoxing 50km in the northeast and Sanjiang in the southeast.
7. Congjiang-> Zhaoxing->(via Luoxiang) Sanjiang
Zhaoxing is one of the most attractive destinations in Southwest China for those who seek to witness intact minority cultures. But there is no direct bus from Congjiang to Zhaoxing, you may take a Congjiang>Luoxiang bus(frequent,Y11/1.5hrs) and then change in Luoxiang by truck for around Y3 or by motorcycle for Y6 to arrive in Zhaoxing. More information of Zhaoxing, Zhaoxing Tourism Map
The Liping>Sanjiang bus passes Zhaoxing(at least one per day), which can get you directly to Sanjiang East bus station for around Y20 / 4.5 hours. Be prepared that the road condidition between Congjiang/Zhaoxing and Sanjiang is extremely terrible, which make you rolling all the way.
Enter in Guangxi
8. Sanjiang-> Longsheng
Sights in Sanjiang: Chengyang Shelter Bridge / Dudong village / Mapang. More about Sanjiang, Sanjiang Tour Maps
Sanjiang has two bus stations. Buses to/from Longsheng and Guilin stop at the West Station.The ride to Longsheng is 2.5hrs/Y20.
Upon arriving at Longsheng Bus Station, it's easy to find a Jinkeng bus to the entry of the Dragon Backbone Rice Terrace for Y7, 1.5~2hrs
9. Longsheng-> Guilin -> Yangshuo
The famous Longsheng rice terrace consists of Jinkeng and Ping'an 2 parts. Pingan is the Zhuang village located in the Longji Terrace Fields. Jinkeng Rice Terraces have several beautiful Yao villages including Dazhai and Xiaozhai. (Admission fee: Y50, incl. both ) >> Longsheng Tour Map
Porters(usually local women!) at the entry of Jikeng charge Y10 to carry your luggage to Dazhai, it's about 40 minutes uphill walk. Most of the private guesthouses are scattered along the slope.
Go first to Jinkeng, spend at least one day visiting several beautiful villages and trekking around the 3 viewpoints. The second day, walk from Jinkeng to Pingan (around 4 hours) and stay overnight in Pingan. The third day, walk from Pingan to Golden Zhuang Village via Old Zhuang Village. You can catch the bus for Longsheng on the road near Golden Zhuang Village.
Longsheng has frequent buses to Guilin. Try to avoid staying in Guilin, better head for Yangshuo right after arriving. Details available at Longsheng, Guilin.
Enjoy your time in Yangshuo