Go Go Guizhou

By Sam Braybon 2021-10-21 15:33:25

If you and your family are anything like the active and adventurous folk that we know here in Shanghai, then these past 18 months may have seen you work your way through the classic list of outdoorsy China destinations far more quickly than you had ever expected. Yunnan? You’ve just been. Guilin? Got the t-shirts. Sanya? Seen it…three times.

But in a country as vast and varied as this there is always somewhere new to explore. And if you’re asking us, our go to spot for the upcoming autumn travel season is the southwestern province of Guizhou, where rugged, forest-covered peaks set the scene for some serious adventure!

Less developed by Chinese standards, this area is home to some of China’s most incredible villages. Packed with traditional architecture but still brimming with personality thanks to the gregarious minority ethnic folks that live and work here, these areas will inspire kids far more than the overly managed scenic areas that tend to dominate travel itineraries in China, we guarantee it.



Some potential visitors are put off by the relative remoteness of the province, and it’s true that it requires a bit more legwork than going to somewhere like Yunnan, that has been on the travel map for many years. But don’t be put off. A couple of recent Guizhou expeditions with wonderful kids in tow have well and truly convinced us that with a bit of smart preparation and an adventurous spirit, a visit here could easily be amongst the most memorable of your time in China. Here are a few tips, and a couple of handy hotel recommendations to get you on your way.


Do a Bit of Research

Like most of China’s provinces, Guizhou is huge, way bigger than your average European country. So, you’ll need to know where you are going before you rock up. We suggest focusing on the area known as Qiandongnan which is home to the most charming villages, many of which are populated by Dong and Miao ethnic people. There are an increasing number of great guesthouses here.


Plan Well Ahead

If you’d like to stay in the villages themselves (and it’s really the best way) remember that the guesthouses are tiny. In some cases, we’re talking ten rooms or less. If you are traveling in the holiday season, get that reservation in early.


Take it Slow

This really isn’t the place to rush around ticking off major sights or spend hours driving from pillar to post. Choose a village in which to base yourselves for a few days then settle into the rhythm of rural life. There is nowhere else in China that excels in unique encounters withfriendly locals like Guizhou does, especially with kids leading the way!


Get a Driver

Guizhou has high-speed rails, but to reach the villages you’ll need to use vehicles at some point. We’ve found that the best drivers have been recommended or arranged by hotels. They know the roads well and are generally safer. If your kids need car seats then bring them with you, they are not the norm in Guizhou.


Pack Some Extras

Look, you’re never going to go hungry in China but facilities in the smaller villages are basic.Don’t expect to come across any western food here, so bring a few familiar snacks with you for the little ones. Packing a cheeky bottle of wine for the oldies will never go wrong either. 

Less developed by Chinese standards, this area is home to some of China’s most incredible villages.

Packed with traditional architecture but still brimming with personality.



Good to know...

The number of minsu in Guizhou is increasing quickly. Don’t expect perfect English (WeChat translate is your friend here) but do expect a friendly welcome and tons of rural charm. We’ve tried and tested these two:



MountainMind, Baibi

Instead of staying in Xijiang, the most touristy of the Guizhou villages, head to nearby Baibi where you’ll find this slick guesthouse perched on a hilltop with incredible views and excellent family rooms. There are loads of opportunities for easy walks through the authentic Miao villages that are close to the hotel, or simply to relax and read on the huge terrace. The staff can arrange cars to other scenic spots too, for those that want to explore.

MountainMind is in Baibi Village, Leishan County best accessed via Kaili South train station. 
Call or WeChat 181 8804 1718.



The Well House, Dali Dongzhai

Prepare for all your rural China fantasies to come to life in tiny Dali, where the super stylish rooms at The Well House overlook the incredible jumble of rooftops that line this verdant valley. You’re right in the middle of the village here, and exploring the streets you are likely to encounter locals dyeing fabric, making tofu and much more. The hotel has excellent food including some regional specialties, and they can also arrange for you to eat a meal in a villager’s home. A real hidden gem.

The Well House is in Dali Dongzhai, Rongjiang County and best accessed via Rongjiang Station. 
Call or WeChat 139 8481 3317.