Add time to a China trip in July to come witness the Miao dragon boat festival along the Qingshuijiang River in the Guizhou Province. Learn about the unique subcultures here within the minority groups in the region and visit local villages to learn about their way of life. Witness two days of the spectacular races put on by five villages and learn about the dragon legend that many attribute as being the source of this ancient festival.
Arrive to Guiyang where you are greeted by your guide at the airport and drive about three hours to Kaili, the capital of the Miao and Dong Minority Autonomous Region. This is the center of the Miao culture, hosting more than 120 festivals every year. The Miao people are known for their arts and crafts, including jewelry, embroidery, brocade, batik, and paper cutting.
Visit Kaili Museum this afternoon. This open-air museum displays the ethnic minority customs, costumes, morals, and beliefs of the various sub-groups of the Miao People in Guizhou Province. It also provides a broad introduction to the history of the area in four exhibition halls, including the minority customs and Dragon Boat Halls.
Settle into your hotel this evening.
Day 2: Langde & Paika Villages
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
This morning set out to visit a few local villages and get a taste of how the Miao have lived for hundreds of years. The first stop is in Langde Village where about 300 Long Skirt Miao families live. About 900 years ago, the Miao people's rebellion against Manchuria broke out here, with many of the rebel leaders originating from this village. See the beautiful architecture and customs of the Miao people on full display. Next visit Paika Village, located near Leishan downtown, a center for Miao culture in the area. The village is known for its Long Skirt Miao traditional dress and most families here make their living by making Lusheng musical pipes. These bamboo pipes are played at festivals and are used in courtship. Visit with a family who has made Lusheng pipes for generations and and take the opportunity to make your own pipe and try your hand at playing it!
Drive next a couple of hours to Shidong Village, the main location for the Dragon Boat Races. Explore the enchanting maze of old wooden houses and see traditional silver ornaments being made for the festival. The Dragon Boat Race is the highlight of the festival, and during racing periods the people hang live geese and ducks on the head of the dragon and place live pigs in the boats for a feast after the race.
Watch the preliminary practicing for the races for about two hours before driving about an hour and half back to Kaili for the evening.
Day 3: Villages & Final Dragon Boat Race
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
This morning drive about an hour to visit Chong'an Miao Village and the Gejia people at Wangba Village. The Gejia are a subgroup of the Miao minority culture, and share a great many similarities with each other. See their hand-made batik clothing and enjoy an easy hike through this lush village. If possible, visit for a while with a local family and do some farming work with them such as picking vegetables in the fields.
This afternoon drive to the Dragon Boat Festival in Shidong for the final racing this afternoon. This is the climax of the festival and most Miao from surrounding villages will be crowded onto the river banks to witness the finale. Enjoy being a part of this ancient celebration with the Miao people.
Day 4: Return Home
Drive about three hours to Guiyang airport for your flight home.
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Rate based on 2 travelers.
Groups of 3: $1095 per person.
Groups of 4 or more: $995 per person.
Upgrade Hotel: $70 per person.
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Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.