Kaili City

Kaili City is the capital of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture and serves as a base for further exploration of Miao and Dong ethnic minorities.

Kaili is an area where a number of minority nationalities live such as the Bai, Dai, Miao, Yi, Zhuang, Naxi, Hani. Among them, the Miao is the largest group, accounting for 67% of the whole population of the area, followed by the Dong.

Zhenyuan Ancient Town

Zhenyuan Ancient Town

Zhenyuan Ancient Town is located in Yuan County, southeast of Zhendong on the bank of Wuyang River. The river winds through the city, forming a pattern similar to the famous yin-yang symbol, so the town is sometimes called Bagua Ancient Town. It also resembles Venice, Italy, with its modes of water transportation. Zhenyuan Ancient Town is divided into two halves by the Wuyang River. The South bank contains the old acropolis, while the North bank holds the ancient city that was built during the Ming Dynasty. The city contains ancient walls and gates, and a number of ancient buildings sitting atop the hills.


Liping County is a county in the southeast of Guizhou province, China, bordering Guangxi to the southeast. It is part of the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture.

Qiao Street is a pedestrian street featuring unique architecture. Located in Liping County, Qiao Street was named "The Most Famous Street of History and Cultural in China" in 2011. Qiao Street got its name from its Anhui architectural style. The roofs of the old houses on Qiao Street have a unique design. The middle of the roof is flat, but the two sides rise up like a shoulder pole. The word "Qiao" means "raise" and this is where the street's name came from.

Qiao Street in Liping China

Many businessmen from all over China built assembly halls on the street, which can be traced back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Qiao Street was built during the Ming Dynasty and has a history of over 600 years.



Situated in southeastern Guizhou, 72 kilometers (45 miles) from Liping County, Zhaoxing village (also called Zhaodong) is one of the largest Dong minority villages in China. It lies in a basin surrounded by mountains where a small river passes through. The Dong Village of Zhaoxing has a long history. According to folk legend, the village was constructed in the fifth year of the Zhenglong Emperor of the Song Dynasty (1160). Ancestors of Zhaoxing village settled here some 840 years ago.

Even though the village looks like one large village to the foreign eye, it is actually divided into five sections. In each section lives one community or tuan which is composed of at least two clans (one clan is defined as a group of people bearing the same surname). The five different communities of Zhaoxing have named themselves "faith", "wisdom", "propriety", "righteousness" and "benevolence" which are the five virtues of Confucianism.

With a history dating back to the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC), in China, the over 2500-year-old Kam Grand Choir (Gal Laox or Grand Song) is a multi-part polyphonic choir singing unique to the Dong nationality who mainly dwell in southwest China. As the only polyphonic choir singing in China, it is another lesser-known but unbelievably marvelous art that projects its way into the modern world. In 1986, the choir debuted in Paris and was applauded fervently, while stirring great curiosity towards this, then mysterious minority tribe of China. The heavenly voices, the enchanting rhythms, and the melodious tunes are so captivating and pure that they evoke the Dong People's vision of paradise.

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

Anthony Bourdain

In Zhaoxing there are five drum towers, one for each community. A drum tower is a multi-storied pagoda-like wooden structure built without the use of any nails. As a symbol of a Dong village, it is usually the tallest building. It is used as a venue to host special events and ceremonies. With a continuous fire at its center, it's a welcome respite for a chilly day. We found the village and its surrounding area to be very pedestrian-friendly. I bought some honeyed peanuts that resembled peanut brittle from one of the small stores. When we ate dinner at one of the many restaurants they provided us our dinnerware that came shrink-wrapped.

Guizhou Countryside

Guizhou Countryside

On our 2015 trip to Southern China, one of our goals was to meet and learn about the minority people that lived in Guizhou Province. To this end, I reached out to several tour agencies and one that stood out was Tribal Tours of China. Founded by Lee Mao Qing, Tribal Tours' goal is to take you to the rarely seen Southwestern part of China inhabited by over 50 minority tribes and cultures extending back over 2000 years. The terrain in this region is rugged and varied, from steeply sloped hills to desolated high plateau.

Guizhou Countryside

The management of Tribal Tours has over 20 years of experience leading individuals and groups. Tours are customized to your interests, which may include village festivals, hiking, camping, homestays, textile handicrafts, and artisanal paper making. After many back and forth emails with many useful suggestions from Lee our itinerary was more or less set for our short tour. Lee and his driver would meet us in Zhaoxing. Like our other tour, this would be private. In my experience, if the budget works this is the best mode of travel for visiting minority people who of course will react better to a couple than a group, especially if one of them speaks Mandarin while our guide makes our introduction in the local dialect.

Hundred Bird Miao