A Guide to the Chinese Ethnic Customs Tour

With the air service accessible to all the provincial capitals, and to the autonomous prefectures in the region, a tour to southwestern China is quite convenient now. A typical Chinese ethnic customs tour can start with a direct flight to Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, from one of several major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. A two-hour bus ride the next day brings tourists to Kaili, a place where people of a number of ethnic groups live. By visiting ethnic villages here, tourists will have a chance to get a glimpse of ethnic culture differing completely from that of the Han Chinese. Hospital locals will show tourists the typical way they treat guests from afar. At night, tourists are provided with special ethnic dishes and song and dance performances.

Tourists usually should stay two days in Kaili before they leave on the fourth day for Anshun via Guiyang by train or by bus. Anshun is a beautiful place, home to the famous Huangguoshu Waterfalls and the breathtaking cave - Dragon Palace. Then, after a night’s sleep on the train, tourists can go to the city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province.

A visit to the Provincial Museum in Kunming enables tourists to have a rough understanding of the history and present situation of ethnic groups in Yunnan. After another day’s tour to the Stone Forest (where tourist can visit some Hani people’s villages), tourists may fly to Simao, capital of the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, a city where Dai, Bai, and other ethnic peoples live. The large, natural botanical garden and the Water-Splashing Festival (New Year’s Day according to the Dai calendar, falling usually in April) might be the best attractions there. After enjoying the botanical garden, which is a two-hour drive from Simao, tourists can visit a typical Dai village before flying back to Kunming. Next on the itinerary is a flight the following day to Dali, a city inhabited mainly by the Bai people. Two days in Dali cover a number of interesting programs, including visits to the famous Three Pagodas, Erhai Lake (tourists can enjoy cruise and visit the Bai peoples villages in the islets or board on a fisherman’s boat to watch his cormorants catching fish), Butterfly Spring, Xizhou Old Town and the Ancient City of Dali. If you’re there at the right time you’ll be lucky to witness the wonderful Duige (antiphonal singing) Fair on the third day of the third month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

A bus trip from Dali takes tourists to the ancient city of Lijiang on the China-Myanmar border, where they can spend four days visiting Yunshanping, Yufeng Temple, Baisha Frescoes, Shuhe Old Town, Mu Mansion, Black Dragon Poor Park, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lugu Lake (circled by many Mosuo People’s villages) and Tiger Leaping Gorge.

From Tiger Leaping Gorges, tourist can transfer to Zhongdian (aka Shangri-la) for two-day visit of the Gedan Songzanlin Monastery, White Water Terraces, Bitahai Lake and some Tibetan villages or monasteries. Then fly back to Kunming.

Hotel accommodations, food and traffic are no problem, despite underdeveloped tourist facilities in the above-mentioned destinations. Direct flights from Kunming make it easy for tourists to continue their vacation in Hong Kong or a number of Southeast Asian nations.

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