Finding Forgotten China

Yangshaou, Longshen, Zhaoxing, Rongjiang and other remote hamlets
Overview

overview

Explore the vanishing minority cultures and exceptionally scenic mountain country of southern China. The traditions, cultures and visions of ancient China are still accessible to travelers willing to venture deep into rural and mountainous regions. Dong, Miao and other tribes still flourish and protect their distinctive lifestyles, though their survival into the future is in question.

On this trip you quickly leave the popular tourist routes and venture through the mountains, forests and valleys that hide and protect these little-known, friendly cultures of China. Your accommodations will be modest but you will not find yourself in traffic jams, smoggy urban expanses or long lines at China’s premier tourist wonders. Expect direct contact with local people in traditional dress, exceptional opportunities for cultural and landscape photography and a full sense of China as it used to be.

Join JOURNEYS International's Gail Scherer in October 2014. Other group dates are available as well. Or, choose this itinerary for your own very small party on your own dates. Add in more hiking, biking, photography or nature observation. Easily add extensions to other areas of China.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Guilin
    Picturesque town of Guilin

    Arrive at Gulin’s Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) in southern China.  This major airport is served directly by many airlines from throughout Asia.  Depending on your arrival time there may be opportunities to visit sites around the city. Situated on the Li River, the city was founded more than 2300 years ago and the surrounding area now has a population of almost 5 million.

    Meals
    Dinner
    Lodging
    Centrally-located hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Guilin / Yangshuo
    Boat on Li River

    Leaving the big city behind, transfer one hour to a dock on the Li River, and board a boat for a leisurely cruise up the river to Yangshuo. This area is famous for the scenic karst rock formations along the Li River. The iconic landscape adorns the Chinese 20 yuan currency note. You will note fishermen, possibly some using trained cormorants to catch slippery prey. Boatmen ply the river on bamboo rafts, and farmers tend their crops and water buffaloes in fields along the river.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Comfortable hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Yangshuo
    Karst formations of Yangshuo

    Relative to other cities in China, Yangshuo is a small town, perfect for exploration by bicycle. With a local guide, spend a few hours pedaling through the spectacular scenery of the surrounding countryside, including Moon Hill, a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped outcrop. Meet the inhabitants of local villages. (If you don't bike, no worries. there will be alternative modes of transport.)

    Enjoy a home-cooked lunch in the residence of a local family. In the evening watch the incredible Liusanjiie Light Show, designed and directed by Zhang Yimao who directed the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Comfortable hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Yangshuo / Longsheng
    Beautiful terraced rice fields are common in China

    Today travel twisty, scenic mountain roads to the spectacular Longji rice terrace country of Longshen. Longji means “dragon-backed mountain,” imagery suggested by the scaly look of the rice terraces when they are flooded.  The steeply and intricately terraced fields remind some people of similar agriculture in the Nepal Himalaya. You will have a chance to walk among the terraces which offer innumerable opportunities for creative photography, especially if local people are tending the fields. Through your guide you may have a chance to discuss local village life with the people that you meet.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Comfortable hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Longsheng / Sanjiang
    Routine local village life

    Travel north by private van to the lush green forested mountains in the boundary area of  Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan Provinces. This is the homeland of the minority Dong people. Spend time in their villages observing local customs and food preparation. Cross the legendary Feng Yu Qiao  (Wind and Rain) covered wooden bridge, the largest in China and perhaps the longest covered bridge in the world. First built in 1591  and also known as the “Luck Bridge” and “Flower Bridge,” it is constructed entirely of wood without any nails. The bridge has been likened to a dragon and it contains both intricate architectural features as well as artistic carvings.  It has been refurbished over the centuries, but retains ties to ancient designs. Visit the nearby palace and pagodas inspired with centuries of tradition and lore. Stop at the  local eco-museum, if time allows.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local Dong-architecture-style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Sanjiang / Zhaoxing
    Drum Tower of Xian

    After an early breakfast, travel four hours through breath-takingly beautiful mountain landscapes of Guizhou Province to isolated Zhaoxing, considered one of the most beautiful of China’s ancient villages. Bridges, drum towers, pagodas, public buildings and local homes are all constructed of wood in traditional architectural style of  the Dong people.  The town is set in a gorgeous valley amidst terraced mountain hill sides. En route to Zhaoxing visit several villages which invite walking in terraced fields. If you feel up for more hiking, finish the trip to Zhaoxing with a two-hour walk from Tang’an via the Dong village of Xia.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local guesthouse
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Dong villages of Zhaoxing area
    Local village man

    There are numerous Dong villages around Zhaoxing to explore with your guide in the morning, including Jilun and Jitan. Jitan is a hike uphill to a village with a beautiful drum tower and many old houses in a very peaceful and serene setting.  In the afternoon you may explore more of the area casually on your own schedule and direction.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local guesthouse
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Mountain hamlets en route to Rongjiang
    Miao women

    Today start early in order to reach several remote Dong and Miao minority villages.  These high mountain hamlets are nearly self-sufficient as communities.  While many young people have left in search of better economic opportunities, the people who remain still dress in traditional indigo-dyed clothing and engage in traditional craft and irrigated terrace farming practices. You may have a chance to observe the indigo dyeing process.
    The exit of young people coupled with the policies of the Chinese government to move more people into cities almost certainly means these villages will decline and disappear in the near future.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Best-available guesthouse or hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Rongjian / Shiqiao / Qingman / Kaili
    Absorb the rhythms of ancient village life

    Even as it seems you must be as deep into mountainous rural China as possible, today venture still deeper into minority Miao country. Here in the very high mountains you will meet people who have never been to a Chinese city. They find all they need at the local market which occurs every sixth day. You might be lucky to hit one during the time you are in this general area. Villagers in these areas recognize the interest foreign visitors have in their culture and with the assistance of your guide it may be possible to organize music or dance demonstrations of folkloric arts. Each village has its own traditions, history and style of cultural expressions making it well worthwhile to include as many villages as possible on your itinerary to maximize the opportunities for spontaneous encounters.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Centrally-located hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Miao settlements en route to Guiyang
    Enjoy the delicious local cuisine

    This last day of exploring minority communities takes you to diverse Miao settlements representing Miao tribes known as “Little Flowers”, “Short Skirts,” “Long Skirts,” and Black Dresses” each with their own traditions. You will also visit Matang village, home of the Geija, a little-known, small-population, ethnic group notable for their batik and lace making as well as ornate flared head dresses.  In the late afternoon drive to Guiyang, where you will overnight before your onward flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Centrally-located hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Guiyang Onward

    Transfer to the airport for your homeward or connecting flight. Ask about possible extensions in Yunnan, Beijing, Hong Kong or other regions of China.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Oct 13-23, 2014 with Gail Scherer
Oct 12-22, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$3,950
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in JOURNEYS' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$600
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
1
Basic guesthouses to 4 star hotels
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
Basic guesthouses to 4 star hotels

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Xi'an

Duration: 3 days

Continue your China adventure with a visit to Xi'an.  Spend a couple of days exploring the renowned terracotta warriors, the Bell and Drum Towers, and the Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an. 

Datong and Wataishan

Duration: 3 days

Extend your stay in China with a visit to Datong and Wutaishan. Datong is well known for its abundant cultural relics like the Yungang Grottos and Hanging Monastery as well as its natural beauty.  Visit the National Park of Wataishan, which means Fi... read more

Pingyao

Duration: 4 days

Add Pinyao as an extension to your China adventure.  Pingyao was originally established some 2700 years ago, during the reign of King Xuan (827-782 BC) of the Western Zhou Dynasty, and is considered the best ancient walled city in China. The origina... read more

Hong Kong

Duration: 3 days

End your China adventure with a couple of days exploring the sites of this energetic city.  Consider a Hong Kong Island tour or many other optional tours.  Be sure to take an evening stroll along the harbor for a spectacular view of the expansive s... read more

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