Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture lies in southeast Guizhou on the southeast edge of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, bordering Hunan and Guangxi. Over 20 ethnic groups including Miao, Dong, Han, Buyi, and Shui peoples reside here, making it a richly diverse cultural area.

Qiandongnan is home to the world's largest Miao and Dong villages, with unique stilted houses, wind and rain bridges, and drum towers. Experience the ethereal Dong Grand Songs, dazzling embroideries, silverwork, batik, and more - a vibrant cultural tradition thriving in harmony.

With over 100 ethnic festivals, Qiandongnan celebrates "big festivals 3-6-9, small festivals every day". Famous events include the Miao Lusheng Festival, Miao New Year, Sister's Meal Festival, and Dong March Third Festival.

Kaili, the capital, is a gateway to Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village and transportation hub to Congjiang and Rongjiang. Congjiang offers transit to Zhanxi and Xiaohuangdu. Liping has the local airport with flights to Guiyang and Guangzhou.

In Qiandongnan, every day is a celebration! Let its landscapes, customs, and festivals charm you with the secret of living - which is living festively!

Guzang festival

The Gumu Festival is the biggest festival of the Miao people held every 13 years and lasting 3 years in each village, with the specific timing determined by the elders based on the situation of each village. The festival is organized by the leader of the Drum Society known as the “Gumu Head”. When the Gumu Head's family slaughters a pig to signal the start, every household in the village also slaughters pigs and makes “Gumu meat” for ancestral worship ceremonies at home. In many Miao areas, drums are buried in caves and cannot be taken out except at Gumu Festival after the “drum waking” ritual to summon the ancestral spirits. After waking the drums, villagers dance Lusheng reed-pipe wind instruments in the square for 8 days before the “drum sending off” ritual. The most recent Gumu Festival was held in 2010 in Xijiang Miao Village. The next will be in Langde in November 2016. For visitors to Xijiang during Gumu Festival, note you must speak indirectly, like saying “full warehouse and granary” instead of “full”. And be sure to visit the Gumu Head's home, or you'll miss out on the heart of the festival.

Canoe Dragon Boat Festival

The thrilling Dugout Canoe Festival takes place from the 25th to 27th day of the 5th lunar month every year along the Qingshui River near Shidong in Qiandongnan. Miao people living along the river participate in this grand gathering. The dugout canoes are ancient and enormous, each holding 30-40 people along with food for the festival. During the race, drums beat loudly as people on the boats and shore shout cheers. After the competition ends, participants share glutinous rice, meat, and wine brought on the canoes, celebrating into the evening before paddling their boats home while singing songs. With its rich culture and excitement, the Dugout Canoe Festival is a must-see for visitors to Qiandongnan in late spring.

Taijiang Sisters Festival

The lively Taijiang Sister Festival takes place from the 15th to 18th day of the 3rd lunar month in Shidong Miao Village, Taijiang County. During the festival, married women return home to reunite with their families. Young men and women court each other through matching songs while dressed in elaborate costumes and jewelry. On the festival day, women eat “Sister Rice”, a colorful sticky rice dyed with wildflowers and leaves gathered from the hills. Eating Sister Rice is the festival’s most important tradition. Other highlights include bullfighting and “walking rituals”. Now a major holiday in Taijiang County, different Miao subgroups hold their Sister Festivals at various times from the 1st to 5th lunar months, with the main festivities in Laozhai, Pianzhai, Shidong, and the county seat. Shidong’s festival is the most representative, featuring activities like Miao costumes and traditions, performance parades, opening ceremonies, drum-stepping, and bonfire parties by the Qingshui River. On festival mornings, girls catch fish in the fields to make Sister Rice and are welcomed wherever they go. After eating, women bring colored sticky rice to singing grounds to challenge men in matching songs. To get the rice, men must win the song battle. Beyond the songs, women can join diverse entertainments like bullfights, boat races, drum beats, flute music, folk singing, and riverside drum dances.

Miao Nian

Miao New Year is the most important festival of the year for Miao communities along the Qingshui and Douliu Rivers in Qiandongnan. The timing varies by village, ranging from the 9th lunar month to the 1st lunar month, and lasts 3, 5 or up to 15 days. In preparation, families slaughter pigs and sheep (cattle) and stock up on glutinous rice wine. During the festival, villagers play the lusheng reed pipe and dance, going from village to village celebrating until the “Turning of the Drums” festival in the 2nd lunar month. With dynamic pipes and drums alongside feasts and cheer, Miao New Year represents the spirit and hospitality of Qiandongnan’s Miao culture. Travelers should inquire locally about dates, as each village decides when to hold its own Miao New Year celebrations. Visiting during this peak festive time offers an unforgettable experience.

Gannanxiang International Lusheng Festival

The lively Gannanxiang International Lusheng Festival takes place over 3 days - the 18th, 19th and 20th of the 1st lunar month - in Gannanxiang Town, Kaili City. On these days, Miao people from surrounding villages gather in their festive attire to play the lusheng reed-pipe instrument and dance. Now an international festival drawing tens of thousands of spectators, the festivities feature nonstop entertainment including lusheng performances along with horse racing, bullfighting, cockfighting, and more. The soul-stirring music of the lusheng pipes resonates through the crowds, accompanies energetic Miao dances, and represents the spirit of the Miao people. For visitors to Kaili eager to experience Miao culture and music at its peak, attending the International Lusheng Festival is an unforgettable treat.

Shouting the Heavenly Festival

The Calling for Rain Festival originates from Huanggang Dong village in Liping and is held on the 15th day of the 6th lunar month. According to legend, the villagers once suffered a prolonged drought. Village elder Wu Wan asked the famous mystic Wu Wei to perform a rain ceremony to the heavens. Moved by Wu Wan's sincerity for his homeland, Wu Wei chose June 15th for the ritual. Since then, June 15th became Huanggang's own festival. On this day, the village holds feasts and receives guests who come to watch the rain ceremony. Exciting performances like lusheng pipe music, bullfighting, and palanquin lifting entertain the crowds. With its rich mythic origins and colorful traditions, the Calling for Rain Festival offers visitors to Liping an immersive experience of Dong culture on June 15th each year.

Listening to the "Dong Ethnic Song" sounds like a heavenly melody

With no written script, the Dong people use song to chronicle their stories and customs. The valleys of Southeast Guizhou echo with Dong voices - from lullabies for newborns to funeral dirges for elders, wedding anthems for young lovers to work chants in the fields. Their songs give voice to joy, grief and daily rituals. Dong anthems celebrate nature's gifts, voicing gratitude for the singing birds, mountain springs and harvest bounty. In every Dong village, hear these stirring songs unchanged after centuries of practice. Let the soaring voices transport you, as melodies flow like the rivers and blend with birdsong. These earnest Dong chorales have a transcendent beauty, with the sincerity of souls communing with nature. Lose yourself in an uplifting world where life and nature harmonize through heartfelt song. You'll come away moved by the Dong people's musical spirit that connects everyday experiences with the eternal.

Stay in the stilted building

Centuries of migration brought the Miao people to Guizhou’s secluded mountains, where they carved out a pastoral existence. While the steep terrain posed challenges, the enveloping peaks and flowing streams created an ethereal realm of mists. Spend a few nights in a Miao stilted house to immerse yourself in this timeless world. Let your senses attune to nature as you breathe the earthy scents of timber and lush vegetation on the pavilion-like "Beauty Leaning" rest area. Watch layered eaves fade into mist, winding stone paths lead home tired farmers shouldering leaf-laden baskets. Feel the inky darkness of nights filled only with cricket song, as roosters usher in crisp morning light. Lyrical scenes evoking distant villages swathed in morning smoke will unfold before you. Discover your own Shangri-La, where life flows in harmony with the age-old rhythms of the land.

Look at the myriad lights in Xijiang

As China's largest Miao village, Xijiang's tightly packed homes have earned acclaim at home and abroad. Yet as dusk softly settles over the orderly dwellings each evening, Xijiang's true charm sparkles through ten thousand dancing lights. Let yourself be captivated by the village aglow, flickering candles sending shadows dancing across wooden frames. Woven throughout the layers of luminous homes, Xijiang's romance and welcoming spirit await discovery. As one traveler put it, "Rivers of stars flow between, while myriad households shine around." Though lovely by day, Xijiang's nightscape steals the show. Surveying the valley glimmering with the warm glow of ten thousand bulbs, you'll grasp the beauty celebrated in verse. Here, amid a sea of twinkling lights, glimpse the warmth and vitality within each Miao home. Lose yourself in the magic of Xijiang nights.

The Last Armed Tribe

Known as the "Last Gun Tribe," the Qianxi Miao are a sub-group of Miao steeped in unique traditions. Due to harsh early living conditions, guns and knives became necessities for the Miao people's survival. Centuries later, the warrior spirit persists in Qianxi Miao customs. Men proudly carry ceremonial rifles and machetes, channeling the ferocity of their ancestors. This longtime martial tradition earned Qianxi the moniker "Last Gun Tribe," as its members tenaciously keep alive ancient battle rituals. Marvel at their dazzling gun-twirling dances and mock combat drills. While neighboring Miao groups adopted more peaceful customs, the isolated Qianxi continued honing their martial heritage. Even weddings feature ceremonial gunfire. By preserving age-old fighting techniques, the Qianxi uphold their identity as descendents of fierce fighters who once defended their existence at gunpoint. Their show of weapons honors that uncompromising warrior ethos.

Leisurely boating on the Wuyang River

While Fenghuang, Yangshuo and Lijiang top many travelers' lists, the riverside town of Zhenyuan remains an under-the-radar gem. Far from bustling tourist hubs, Zhenyuan's tranquil pace steers you straight to serenity. Linger lazily along the river, sipping tea and letting thoughts wander - the essence of carefree relaxation. As your boat drifts down the Yang River, leave locked away any pressure to cram sightseeing into a hectic schedule. Instead, let time flow gently by, soaking up Zhenyuan's languid charm. Dangle your fingers in the water, watching fishermen cast lines for the day's catch. Pause mid-journey for a cai fan lunch on a sandy bank, napping later under shady trees. In the land that perfected slow living, surrender yourself fully to aimless afternoons bobbing upon tranquil waters.

Best Travel Time

Autumn is the best time to travel to southeastern Guizhou, where rainfall is not as frequent as summer and the temperature is not as cold as winter. The temperature is suitable.

Medical treatment

Here is some information on medical care in Qiandongnan for an English travel website:Medical Care in Qiandongnan Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture People's HospitalAddress: 31 Shaoshan South Rd, Kaili, QiandongnanTel: 0855-8218790Liping County People's HospitalAddress: Zhengyang Jie, Liping County, Qiandongnan  Tel: 0855-6221345Zhenyuan County People's HospitalAddress: Heping Jie, Zhenyuan County, QiandongnanTel: 0855-5722721These reputable hospitals have experience treating foreign visitors. Be sure to travel with insurance that covers overseas medical emergencies including evacuation.For minor concerns, pharmacy chains can provide over-the-counter medication. Hotel staff can recommend English-speaking doctors for house calls if needed.Do not hesitate to seek medical care during your stay in Qiandongnan. Quality treatment is available to keep you healthy and enjoying your trip!

Safety considerations

Here are some tips for staying safe and comfortable while traveling in Qiandongnan, China:

1. The local people are very hospitable, and drinking alcohol is common. If you have a low alcohol tolerance, politely decline drinks from the start and briefly explain why.

2. The rainy summer brings slippery, muddy mountain roads. Wear comfortable, sturdy, non-slip shoes for hiking. Bring rain gear, bug spray, and sunscreen as essentials. The winding roads can cause motion sickness, so take medication if you are prone to it.

Beyond that, Qiandongnan is quite safe. Violent crime is rare, but take normal precautions like avoiding isolated areas and not displaying valuables. Also refrain from political or religious discussions to avoid causing offense. With proper attire, some minor health preparations, and cultural sensitivity, Qiandongnan offers a safe and rewarding experience. Let local tourism offices know if any issues arise.

Emergency call

Here are some important emergency contact numbers for tourists visiting Qiandongnan for an English travel website:Emergency Contacts in QiandongnanPolice Emergency: 110Fire: 119Ambulance: 120Traffic Accident: 122Police SMS Emergency: 12110Weather Forecast: 12121 Red Cross First Aid: 999Keep these emergency numbers handy during your trip to Qiandongnan. Don't hesitate to call the police in case of any safety issues or crimes. Use the medical numbers if you require an ambulance or hospital visit.The police SMS number allows you to discretely text an emergency call if needed. The Red Cross number can provide urgent medical assistance as well.For major emergencies, contact your embassy. Have your passport details available. Stay alert, avoid risky situations, and response quickly if any emergency occurs. Have a safe and enjoyable visit to Qiandongnan!

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