5 Things to See in China’s Guizhou Province

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A trip to China’s Guizhou province is not easy. It is already difficult to pronounce the name: Guizhou. I had never been to China before I visited Guizhou, a remote province in the south of the country characterized by impressive natural beauty and a multitude of minorities and ethnic villages that are still not very touristy.

I said well, little touristy, or rather…little touristy to the West. There is tourism here but it is domestic tourism, Chinese tourism that has different needs than, for example, European tourism.

cina guizhou
In a sympathetic pose at the falls

This gives rise to some initially awkward situations that later become very funny. Guizhou residents are not used to seeing Western faces, even those who live in large cities like Guiyang. You walk down the street and people secretly stare or take pictures of you. They do it unobtrusively, curious about the different. I had never had such a thing happen to me; it is strange to be photographed since it is different.

The height of strangeness “comes” when we go from normal photography to selfie. Group selfie, single selfie, selfie with the puppet…in short, selfie with everyone, the important thing is to get a memory, for them but also for me as a traveler. This is also an experience!

Tip…are you planning a trip to China and are a US citizen? The best way to apply for a visa in China is definitely to use the China Visa for Us Citizien service which will save you a lot of time…and a lot of head scratchers.

Are you looking, on the other hand, for information about Guizhou? Read my recommended itinerary: “7-day itinerary with maps and tips!

Let’s cut to the chase though, what will you be able to see on this trip to Guizhou province?

5 things to see in beautiful Guizhou

Istart with a premise: Guizhou presents considerable difficulties for a traveler. It is not a trip for everyone. Hardly anyone speaks English, only Chinese.

If you know Chinese you will be on a roll. If you don’t, however, you need to get off your horse and arrange your tour with some local agency that can provide you with an escort. The alternative is to rely on mimicry but I do not recommend it; it took me 5 minutes to get a saleswoman to understand that I wanted a bigger magnet.

Where there are no language problems, cultural problems take over. Chinese culture is different from Western culture, even more so from Latin culture. They are used to doing what they are told by the superior, any change of schedule sends them into a panic (or at least it always happened that way with our guide). Let’s just say that problem solving and organizational skills are not their best traits.

1 – Visiting the Huangguoshu Waterfalls

I start the list of places to see in Guizhou from this natural paradise a few hours’ drive from Guiyang (130km and 2 hours’ drive). These waterfalls are considered to have the greatest width in all of China, reported to be a whopping 81 meters wide. At 74 meters high, they are included in the Huangguoshu Waterfall National Park about 45 kilometers south of the town of Anshun.

However, accessing the park is complicated; it is difficult to understand: where to get a ticket? where to pay for it? where to access the park?

As I mentioned, Guizhou is not yet equipped and organized in this regard.

In one place you take your ticket, go to pay it at an office a few kilometers away from where you will have taken the ticket, and finally reach the park with the paid ticket.

To visit the park you will have the option of using the elevator (or rather an escalator) or continue on a trail that will take you to the falls in about 25 minutes.

The area is beautiful and the falls are really impressive. They are well worth a visit. Once you reach the falls you will find a stairway that leads to a viewpoint from which you can photograph them from above. Also, if the trail is passable, you can take a path that runs behind the falls themselves and reaches the Water Curtain Cave, a 134-meter cave.

Huanggoushi Waterfall entrance fee: 230 RMB – Hours 8 a.m. -> 6 p.m

2 – Photographing the Wanfenglin Scenic Area

It was one of my staples among things to see in Guizhou. Among the most iconic images in Guizhou is the Wanfenglin Area, all depicting it with sunny days and clear skies. I saw it with classic winter drizzle and that hint of nice fog … basically I saw nothing.

If you happened upon this article, it is because Guizhou might be your next half. Well, then you just have to mark the Wanfenglin Area as your fixed point!

This area is reminiscent in places of Halong Bay in Vietnam, only in this case there is no water. These are limestone conformations that rise close to each other and have a truly amazing scenic impact. If you are lucky enough to find a nice day, I would also recommend going deep into the mountains of the Wanfenglin Area.

The Wanfenglin Area is only about 25 minutes from Xingyi, still heading south toward Wanfeng Lake.

Wanfenglin Scenic Area entrance fee: 110 RMB – Hours 8 a.m. -> 6 p.m

3 – Wanfeng Lake and Jilongbao Resort

A short distance from the Wanfenglin area is Wanfeng Lake. It is an elongated lake with a distinctly jagged shape that reflects this area of Guizhou. The perimeter of the lake is a continuous alternation of small villages and larger and smaller fjords.

In the northern part of the lake you will find a resort in front of what will soon become a fascinating tourist attraction that basically has nothing to do with Guizhou or China itself.

Near the Jilongbao Resort they have built a Neuschwanstein Castle-style castle/hotel. This has nothing to do with the soul of Guizhou related to natural paradises and the beautiful villages and ethnic minorities.

4 – Visit the Zhijin Caves

Located west of Guiyang (from which it is about a 2-hour drive) the Zhijin Caves definitely fall among the most interesting karst caves I have ever seen; not so much for the conformations inside, but more for the size of the cavities. They are truly enormous.

Very long is also the path inside them. It takes about 2 hours to walk around among the limestone formations while listening to the guide’s explanations. The route is not particularly wet like other karst caves I have visited, such as the Skocjan Caves in Slovenia, and it is quite wide.

If you are traveling in Guizhou, the Zhijin Caves are a must-see. They will surprise you with their grandeur. I will take this opportunity, however, to give you a little advice if you are a fan of stalactites and stalagmites. On my trip to Cantabria I visited Cueva El Soplao, mark it down and go see it.

Personal thought: however, there is something jarring about visiting these caves. There is so much talk about preserving them, about not touching the formations that otherwise stop growing, then you find yourself walking on square meters of concrete in the middle of a temple of nature. Something just doesn’t add up.

Zhijin Cave Admission: 70 RMB – Hours 9 a.m. -> 4 p.m

5 – Getting lost in the ethnic villages east of Guiyang

As far as I am concerned, the charm of Guizhou lies in this last point.

The Chinese province of Guizhou is rich in ethnic minorities and villages where life still flows slowly and tied to traditions. Villages with little tourism compared to other parts of Indochina such as Sapa in Vietnam, considered the benchmark in Vietnam for discovering the Black H’Mong and Red Dao ethnic groups. In fact, in those areas one can see how tourism has changed the lives of the inhabitants and to some extent their behavior.

In Guizhou, I did not have the same feelings. It was much better and much more fulfilling to be in contact with the local people. Sincere looks and smiles that I did not find elsewhere. Planning your trip to Guizhou, don’t forget to include a few villages such as Zhaoxingxiang, Tang’ancun (a museum village a few kilometers from Zhaoxingxiang), Basha Miao Village, Langde Miao Villagg, the ancient town of Qingyan or the town of Zhenyuan. I have not seen the latter but it seems to be as beautiful as Zhaoxingxiang.

Dispassionate advice: Zhaoxingxiang, Tang’ancun and Langde Miao Village

Zhaoxing entrance fee: 120 RMB

Other places of interest to see in Guizhou

In this article I have told you about the places I have personally visited. However, Guizhou is very vast and there are other natural havens and ethnic villages to consider including:

  • Libo Zhangjiang Scenic Area: a UNESCO World Heritage natural area.
  • Malinghe Canyon: not so far from the Wanfenglin Scenic Area, it is another knockout natural area.
  • Chishui Nature Reserve in northern Guizhou.
  • The ethnic village of Zhenyuan
  • Zunyi: a key town as it was the town where Mao was proclaimed head of the Communist Party. A very nice town. A short distance from Zunyi you can visit the Mao Tai (a typical liquor) producing area.
  • Mount Fanjing Nature Reserve: one of the places I would have liked to go to. The problem is that it is in the far north of the country and it takes many hours by car to get there. If you can make it, include it in your itinerary in Guizhou.

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