Zhaoxing – the largest Dong Village in Guizhou
Zhaoxing, in east Guizhou province is one of those little towns you should visit. The reason is that the town is the largest traditional Dong minority town in Guizhou with 3 Wind and Rain bridges and 5 Drum Towers. Most of the village is still build in traditional style. This is a must visit.
The village is located in a valley surrounded by hills. Most of the people here are farmers, working the land in traditional way, even wearing their own traditional clothes.
The Dong Minority
The Dong minority people is one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized in China. They are famous for their carpentry skills and unique architecture (drum towers and “Wind and Rain Bridges”. Many of the people are also farmers. Their cuisine prominently features pickled foods and sticky rice.
The Dong live mostly in Guizhou, Hunan, and Guangxi. Although they speak Mandarin they have their own language is a Tai-Kadai (or Zhuang-Dong) language.
Although Zhaoxing is a small town, it is the largest Dong village in the region, if not in the whole of China. Even though slowly tourism starts to find Zhaoxing, traditions have not been lost (or sold out to tourism). The few more modern buildings seem to be a bit out of place here.
The reason to visit Zhaoxing is not only to see the village with its 3 Wind and Rain Bridges and 5 Drum Towers but also visit the local market and observe daily life of the Dong people.
The heart of the town is, as usual, the market area. Markets are usually held in the mornings. But it is not the market you would want to see although it is a great place to watch people.
The Dong Towers are traditionally used for performances and announcements, even today they are in use. Often you will find people using the Drum Towers for relaxing or watching performances.
Getting there and away
There are no direct buses from either Guilin or Guiyang. You can take a bus to Sanjiang and from there a bus to Zhaoxing. The journey takes 4 to 5 hours if the road is in decent condition.
From Guiyang the best option is to take a bus to Rongjiang but you may want to start the journey in Kaili as Kaili has some Miao villages in the area to visit.
A very good way to explore this part of Guizhou is by bicycle. I know, not everyone will enjoy a long bike ride but it is a great way. To make a long story short, cycling from Guilin, takes at least 3 days:
- day 1: Guilin – Longsheng,
- day 2: Longsheng – Sanjiang
- day 3: Sanjiang to Zhaoxing.
There are a few hotels in Zhaoxing town center. On the way from Sanjiang to Zhaoxing you will pass many Dong villages and see more drum towers plus a lot of the beautiful typical rice fields on the hill slopes.
As the road follows mostly the river it is a pleasant ride though the road is not in the best condition. However, it is harder in a bus then on the bicycle as you can avoid the potholes in the road easy.
Two hotels we can recommend:
Zhaoxing is mostly visited to experience the village itself, see something of rural China but there are several trekkings to other villages possible. Your hotel can recommend a guide. Should you decide to use one of our guides,Jessie or Ping, please contact us for details.