Top Guizhou activities

Cultural activities, what to experience in Guizhou

Eunice Tang
2133 Words/9 Minutes, By Eunice Tang, Updated February 10, 2023

Tucked between Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guangxi in southwest China, Guizhou has long been dwarfed by those more popular neighbours. Yet, its nature wonders, diverse cultures and remarkable food are equally impressive as its neighbours. Secreted away from popular travel routes, find hamlets settling among mystic scroll-painting hills, meet hospitable ethnic minorities with unique cultures, partake in various activities that can be once in a lifetime. Encounter surprises at every turn on the voyage into this unsung province.

Guizhou batik

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Art & Architecture
  • Duration: Around 1 hour
  • Location: Danzhai/ Matang

In Guizhou, batik works can be found in people’s clothes, handkerchiefs, and accessories. This wax-resistant dyeing of cloth technique can be traced back to more than 2,000 year ago in the Han dynasty. People draw patterns with copper pen dipped in melted beeswax. Most of the patterns are related to history and folktale about the ethnic group. Thus, batik is a unique way of telling local cultural, religious and historical stories to the outside world. Then, the cloth is submerged in dye made from indigofera plant, which is the main dyeing material for traditional Guizhou batik. The waxed parts remain white while the uncovered parts absorb the colour. Wax will be removed in the last few steps. In this session, you will try your hand at Guizhou batik making, including draw your ideal pattern and dyeing of cloth. We will mail your completed work (when it is dried completely) to you when you reached your next destination. Delivery normally takes about three days.

Shiqiao paper making

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Art & Architecture
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Location: Shiqiao Village

The ancient process of paper making has massively been replaced by modern mass production process. In Shiqiao Village which is not far from Kaili, some paper making masters still resume this intriguing tradition. This ancient technique of paper making from mulberry tree bark can be dated back to more than 2,000 years ago in the Han dynasty. Nowadays, only 40 families in Shiqiao Village are still able to support themselves by producing and selling their handmade masterpieces. Through spectacular landscapes, we will visit this village, take a closer look at this amazing craft and understand the traditional way of life of villagers here. During the visit, if you are interested in this indigenous craft, feel free to participate in some of the processes available here.

Community service in Guizhou

  • Duration: At least 3 days (available all year round)
  • Location: Villages near Kaili
  • Requirement: Age 12 and above; minimum of 10 people

Even by 2019, most of the cities in Guizhou Province are still considered as fourth and even fifth tier city, not to mention about people’s living standard there. Here is an opportunity for people who are looking for volunteering program and value initiative activities, to make a positive change to the lives of people. During your stay, you will get the chance to know the culture, tradition, lifestyle of the locals, and develop the awareness about education, environment, sanitation and more.

In this three day (and more) community service program, youths and adults are able to experience the real rural life. You will share meals and spend nights with a family. In the village, there will be activities such as canal digging, repairing of fish farm, restoration of some school facilities. In the primary school, you will also conduct lessons for the children and interact with them. During your spare time, you can explore the splendid surroundings and spend time with your host family. This project can be challenging for city dwellers but is immensely rewarding and probably like nothing you’ve even experienced before. 

If you and your team are interested to contribute time and effort to make a difference here or need more information about this volunteering program, feel free to contact us. Please take note of the poor living condition in the village, and only availability of squat toilet. If you think you are ready to take on this task, contact us in advance, so we can help you check the availability of activities.

Miao embroidery experience

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Art & Architecture
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Kaili

In Miao village, girls begin learning embroidery from their mothers at a very young age and then start to embroider their own clothes. Some common colours of Miao embroidery are bright blue, orange, red, green, yellow and purple over a dark colour background. Though most of the designs are decorative, some designs serve important purposes such as recording daily life, important events, legends and historical events. On your trip to Kaili, visit a Miao village nearby, meet the vibrant Miao ethnic group and learn some basic stiches from the locals. With or without any embroidery background you are welcomed. If you happened to visit Qingman Miao Village near Kaili, you will have the chance to dress up (without any cost) in colourful Miao ethnic costume with silver accessories.

Home visit at Basha Village

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Art & Architecture/ History
  • Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes

In this short journey, we will visit the home of last gunmen in China—a hidden kingdom populated by the legendary people of Basha Miao. In the village, find male adults each carrying a gun on shoulder, and gunpowder, bullet bag and knife around waist like ancient warrior. Though the use of gun is banned in China, Basha people are allowed by the government to carry their gun for preservation of this unique tradition. Begin with a short welcoming ceremony, with some highlights are the traditional wedding (just a demonstration) and shaving of hair. All men above 16 would have his hair shaved with a sickle, leaving only the top part of his hair tied into a bun. Basha Miao have their distinctive way of welcoming visitor to their village: fire into the sky. After the welcoming ceremony, we will visit a family in this village, interact with the host and take a closer look at their unique costumes which are made of glossy and waterproof cloth (liàng bù 亮布). You can also visit the museum in the village to know more about their culture. You can simply stroll around the village, admire their stilts houses, immersed in bamboo forest and rich vegetation. Trees are considered sacred to the Basha people. This ancient tribe has a unique custom of planting trees when a baby is born, and at the end of his life, that tree will be used to make a coffin.

During the trip, sure you will see quite a number of domestic tourists since this village is advertised as a special attraction in Guizhou. Even so the atmosphere of the village is still authentic and not overrun by tourism.

Lu Sheng making

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Art & Architecture
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: Paika Miao Village

Sheng is a traditional Chinese wind instrument, which can be made from bamboo, reed and metal. Lu Sheng (Sheng instrument which is made from reed) is a popular instrument among the Miao ethic group, and is used when celebrating their own festivals, ceremonies, weddings and parties. Spot this instrument in the welcoming ceremony when you visit a village in Guizhou. In Paika Miao Village, which is near Xijiang and Kaili, you will follow your guide to a craftsman’s house and see the process of Lu Sheng making. Chat with the craftsman and learn how to play some simple notes and tunes from him. Small size Lu Sheng instrument is available for selling if you are interested to get one as souvenir. Simply tell your personal guide to interpret for you and communicate with the craftsman.

Silver ornament making

  • Type: Silver ornament making
  • Duration: Around 2 hours
  • Location: Kongbai Village

Among all the ethnic minority groups, Miao is known for its exquisite silver accessories. It’s their custom for the ladies to decorate herself from head to toe with silver accessories such as silver horns, silver necklaces and silver earrings. A comprehensive set of accessories can weigh up to ten kilograms. Those accessories are with beautiful patterns, ranging from ancient totem to legendary figures. Besides for decorative purpose, the Miao people also believed that wearing silver accessories can help them ward off evil spirits. Most of the silver accessories, even till today, are made in the traditional way. In Kongbai Village of Xijiang, the land of Miao people, you will have the chance to appreciate this work of art and try your hand at making small silver decorative (5 gram). Sure you can make your own silver accessories but do take note that each gram of silver will require additional cost.

Guizhou 'Ground Opera'

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Art & Architecture
  • Duration: 25 minutes
  • Location: Tianlong Tunbao

Guizhou Di Opera, or the Ground Opera, is a sacred ceremony of the local warrior to entertain the gods and to ask for triumph in battle in the past. It is said that ancestors of locals living in Tianlong Tunbao were soldiers from the central plain of China to suppress the rebels from the ethnic groups. Today, Ground Opera is played mostly for entertainment. The performers will wear elaborate masks carved from wood, which the painting can be quite horrific, and dress up in vibrant clothes and robes with banners on their backs and weapons in their hands. Most of the story lines are about legendary figures and fight between kingdoms, like the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This opera can be conducted anywhere in the village. Stroll around this small village, you will see women with blue and black traditional costumes, and old men smoking tobacco in long pipes while chatting, relaxing.

Dong painting class Zhaoxing

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Art & Architecture
  • Duration: 1-1.5 hours
  • Location: Zhaoxin Dong Village

Ethnic minorities like to decorate their drum towers, stilted houses and bridges with colourful paintings. Almost all ethic minorities’ paintings are of bright colours and with local themes. Some common themes of paintings are farming, singing and dancing with drum tower as the backdrop. The charm of Dong painting is in its imagination, use your favouriate colour and get inspiration from the people living in the village. In this short session, you will meet a skilled painter in Zhaoxin Dong Village and learn how to paint Dong painting from him or her. And, if you are lucky enough, follow the painter to paint on actual buildings in the village!

Guizhou cuisine cooking class

  • Type: Cultural Immersion/ Food
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Zhaoxin Dong Village

Sandwiched between Sichuan and Hunan, Guizhou’s mouth-watering infusions of chili take on a character entirely of her own. Unlike the numbing hot cuisine of Sichuan and dry spice dishes of Hunan, it is the sour and spicy flavour that truly distinguishes Guizhou cuisine. In this journey, follow us into a Dong village, visit a local family and learn how to cook the famous Guizhou dish, sour fish soup. Besides the spicy taste, food in Guizhou is also punctuated by lots of fermented ingredients. By adding pickled ingredients to the dishes, the taste is going to be up to the next level. In Guizhou, almost every household have a collection of clay jars, which house pickled fish, pork and vegetables. There are two types of soup base for sour fish soup: the red and the white soup base. Most of the sour fish soup comes with the red base which is from fermented wild tomatoes. Fresh water fish is then boiled in the soup with special ingredients added. All ingredients and sauce complement each other and bring out the most unforgettable gourmet of Guizhou. Learn step by step the secret of preparing this authentic dish from the host, and finally enjoy your lunch here with delicious food including your sour fish soup.

Eunice Tang

Hi, I’m Eunice Tang, if you like my article, please share it with your friends. Any sugguestions on this article, please contact me. Thanks!

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