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About Rongjiang

Rongjiang, in the far south-east corner of Guizhou province has a similar appearance to most modern Chinese towns. However, it serves as the base to visit the surrounding Dong villages. Only a half an hour walk to the east of Rongjiang lies the Chejiang Dong villages. They are three villages of varying size, among which Zhanglu village is the most well-known as the cradle of standard Dong dialect. The main source of income here is derived from farming and tourism.

Zaidang is a small Dong village 30km to the north-east of Rongjiang. While tourists in the past have gone to Xiaohuang to hear the famous Dong chorus singing, Zaidang is fast taking over as the discerning backpacker's choice. This delightful little community is safely tucked away 1.5 hours climb from the main road, limiting the growth of tourism and the inevitable changes that will bring. The architecture is completely traditional and the locals continue to speak their mother tongue. The Dong chorus performance in this village is not to be missed. Composed of soprano, mezzo, alto and even coloratura voices, the local chorus produces an amazingly strong and haunting sound that echoes throughout the village.

About one and a half hours from Rongjiang is Zengchong Dong Village, a community of around 100 families. It is set among hillsides of terraced fields, banyan trees, and bamboo patches, and edged on almost all sides by a clear stream. In the middle of the town is a 25 metre high stone and wooden drumtower with a huge leather drum on the top. Built in 1672 without any nails, it is the largest and best preserved tower in Guizhou and is specially protected as a “National Cultural Treasure”. The costumes of this village are unique. Unlike the navy blue outfits of the Dong women in most of Guizhou/Guangxi, the women in Zengchong wear colourful clothes- in greens, purples etc. It is a charming little town, and remote enough that the tourists here are few and far between. A day trip here from Rongjiang can be combined with a visit to Xindi, home to the largest drumtower in the region.

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