Location: North Guangxi - Southeast Guizhou
Attractions: Yangshuo to Kaili is one of China's best and most rewarding backpacking routes. This route offer good payoffs for time, effort and expense to those who'd love to explore Chinese countryside and cultural diversity.
China's cultural variety is so concentrated in the southeast of Guizhou and northeast Guangxi where different ethnic minorities live peacefully. Generally, Dong villages set along river valleys while Miao villages are scattered on the hills.
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 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 sexes 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 long distance bus stations. Group tourists and guests of local government frequent these hotels. There are plenty of simple hotels near the bus station in the town on this route, offering double room with hot shower and flush toilet at Y40 to Y60.
Map: click here.
Stage 1: Yangshuo/Guilin -> Longsheng <-> Pingan / Jinkeng.
Yangshuo has one bus leaving early in the morning for Longsheng. Otherwise you can go first to Guilin. Guilin Bus Station has non-stop express buses and normal buses leaving for Longshen every 15 minutes. There are also buses every half an hour connecting Longsheng either to Pingan or to Jinkeng. It takes one and half hours from Longsheng to Jinkeng (33km, Y7.-)
* Heping Option: If you take a normal Longsheng bus, you can get off at Heping (15km before Longsheng) and wait for the Longsheng-Jinkeng bus or Longsheng-Pingan bus at Heping instead of changing the bus in Longsheng. Anyway it takes only 10 minutes by bus from Heping to Longsheng.
Things to know: Pingan is the Zhuang village located in the Longji Terrace Fields (Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces). Jinkeng Rice Terraces have several beautiful Yao villages including Dazhai and Xiaozhai.
Itinerary: (See Map) Go first to Jinkeng, spend one day to visit several beautiful villages including the viewpoint, Dazhai, and Xiazhai. (Trail No. 5). The second day, walk from Jinkeng to Pingan (Trail no. 3, around 4 hours) and stay overnight in Pingan. The third day, walk from Pingan to Golden Zhuang Village via Old Zhuang Village (Trail No. 4, around 3 hours.) You can catch the bus for Longsheng on the road near Golden Zhuang Village. (See more information on Pingan )
Comments: Pingan is frequented by tourists from Guilin. Jinkeng is still isolated and more beautiful. Avoid Pingan during the weekends. Entrance fee: Y50 including both places.
There are a lot of family-run hostels in Jinkeng except Xiaozhai. The guesthouse Quanjinglou 全景楼 situated at the highest Viewpoint in Jinkeng, overlooking rice terraces and beautiful traditional Yao villages, offers the best view. Clean dormitory rooms: Y20 per bed, shared bathroom and good restaurant. The owner can arrange the guide for you to walk to Pingan: Y40/ per day.
Xiaozhai is worth a visit, as it has not been developed to a tourist site. It takes two hours to walk from Quanjinglou to Xiazhai. There is no restaurant in Xiaozhai.
Stage 2: Longsheng -> Sanjiang <-> Chengyang
Every half an hour (from 6:30 to 17:30), there is a bus leaving Longsheng for Sanjiang. (Y10.-, 2.5 hours). Sanjiang has two bus stations. Buses from Longsheng and Guilin stop at the West Station. You have to go to Sanjiang's East bus station to take a bus for Linxi 林溪 and get off at Chengyang Bridge. (Y3.50, 40 minutes). You can also take a collective taxi (Y4.-) to Chengyang Bridge on the main street.
Accommodations: Chengyang Bridge National Hostel. (Y20/per bed). Tel: 0772-8582468. The dinner is Y15/per person, very nice food. Avoid staying overnight at Sanjiang.
More about Chengyang: Attractions, Drawbacks, Pictures.
More about Sanjiang Bus Service: Sanjiang - Dudong 独峒 : once every hour.(45km, Y7.50). Sanjiang - Congjiang: once every hour (107km, Y18). Sanjiang have regular daily buses leaving for Guilin and Guangzhou.
Stage 3: Sanjiang -> Zhaoxing
Sanjiang's East bus station has two daily buses to Zhaoxing directly.(7:00am, 11:30am), (Y18, 4.5 hours).
Zhaoxing is one of the most attractive destinations in Southwest China for those who seek to witness intact minority cultures. More information on Zhaoxing: click here.
Stage 4: Zhaoxing -> Luoxiang -> Congjiang (Gaozeng, Basha)
No bus service between Zhaoxing and Luoxiang except on Luoxiang's Market days. Tractors run between these two places. Luoxiang has buses leaving for Congjiang 7 times a day. (Y11.-, 1.5 hours).
We stayed at Yin He Hotel 银河旅馆 (0855-6417758) near Congjiang's bus station. (Y40 double room with bathroom). Several small restaurants opposite the hotel have delicious food for Y6.- .
Gaozeng and Basha are located not far from Congjiang. But there are no regular bus services. We rented a mini-tractor to visit both places (Y60.-).
Basha is an interesting Miao village. There are many Miao towns in Guizhou but Basha is different because there are only very few of the sub-tribe of Miao that still lives in that village. They dressed differently and the men kept their hair differently as well.
Gaozeng is worth a visit. There is a hostel near the new Drum Tower in Gaozeng. (Y10 per bed).
Stage 5: Congjiang -> Rongjiang <-> Wangdong <-> Zengchong
Bus service from Congjiang to Rongjiang: every half an hour, 86km, Y22.-. Go to Zengchong: see Zengchong - Getting there.
Among all the minority villages we visited along the route from Yangshuo to Kaili, the most beautiful one is surprisingly crowned to the unknown Dong village - Zengchong, which has never been highlighted by any guidebooks yet. More information on Zengchong: click here.
Stage 6: Rongjiang -> Leishan -> Xijiang -> Kaili
It takes four and half hours to go to Leishan from Rongjiang. (Y30). You can take any bus heading for Kaili. Between Leishan and Xijiang, the journey takes one and half hour. (Y8). The bus leaves only when it is fully packed. From Xijiang, there are two buses leaving early in the morning for Kaili directly.
Best accommodation in Xijiang is Minzhu Zhaodaisuo 民族招待所 0855-3348688, Beds from Y8 to Y20, with flush toilets.
Revised by Suyun in August 2005
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