Guiyang: Day trips

Guizhou might be poorer than other Chinese provinces, but what it lacks in financial wealth, it makes up for with rugged beauty. The province boasts plenty of natural wonders, such as caves and China’s tallest waterfall, and it is also culturally relevant as well, with its many minority villages.  If you head out to this part of China, and visit only Guiyang City, you’ll be missing out on a lot!  Let’s take a look. 

Day Trips

Our day trip gang

There are plenty of short trips you can take and still be back in time for hot pot in Guiyang City.  On this last trip, we had plans to visit China’s tallest waterfall, Huangguoshu, but there was a mix up with our driver and he thought we wanted to go to a waterfall that was much closer to the city.  We stayed flexible and decided to make 2 stops closer by instead.  Here’s what we did.


I had never heard of Tianhetan when we lived in Guiyang, and it is all in very good shape, so I think it might be a new attraction, built quite recently. Our plan was to go to Huangguoshu, but our driver wasn’t actually prepared to go that far for the 500rmb we had negotiated. Instead, we agreed to pay him 80rmb and he dropped us off at the park and went on his merry way. I’m still not entirely sure if he just genuinely misunderstood us, or if he was trying to make an easy buck on (what he thought were) some dumb foreigners, but either way, I didn’t want to be in a car with him all day, so I was happy with the solution.

We hiked around for a little bit and enjoyed the scenery. There was a coffee shop that made pretty awful sour coffee and poor Kim ended up with an insect in hers, but at least coffee was available! Guizhou has come a long way!

We didn’t really have a specific plan of what we wanted to see in Tianhetan, because we’d only learned about it that morning, but we moseyed around and eventually came upon signs for a cave. Caves are one of Guizhou’s specialties. On we went!

The boatride into the cave was a bit cheesy but honestly quite enjoyable. The cave itself was very well lit up, and there were plenty of beautiful areas. It went on for much longer than I expected it to! Of course, there are people snapping your photo along the way and you can buy them a little further down the cave for an inflated price. It’s a nice momento if you happen to look good in the picture (I almost never do).

We were actually trying to find the waterfall, but weren’t too tenacious about it. We kept enjoying the paths and eventually found our way out of the park and onto the next leg of our journey.

Qingyan Ancient Town

I’ve actually been to Qingyan Ancient Town 3 times now, and each time it was pleasant in its own way. Like many ancient towns, there are shops galore where you can buy silver jewelry and plenty of Guizhou specialty snacks.

There are plenty of restaurants where you can sit down and have some lunch as well. Make sure to try the Yang Yu Ba (potato patties). They are stellar! Pigs feet are also always on the menu in this ancient town.

We didn’t stay for long on this trip, because we’d spent so much time in Tianhetan, and we ended up in a Guizhou-style thunderstorm, so we headed back before I’d really wanted to. If you’re looking for a chill way to spend some time, Qingyan Ancient Town is a great way to achieve that goal. You can easily pair this trip with a visit to Tianhetan as well, because both are easily accessible by Didi.

Weekend Trips

There are honestly so many different places where you can take weekend Trips in Guizhou. For this post, I’m only writing about the places that I have personally been. The two trips that Dave and I took while living in Guiyang are still some of my favorite memories of living out that way. Zhenyuan Ancient Town and Xijiang Minority Village are definitely worth the trip!

Xinjiang Minority Village

The view from a rice Paddy

Xijiang and Kaili were actually one of our last stops when we lived in Guiyang. Looking back, I really wish we had done more traveling out there, but we were pretty overwhelmed at the time and I worked quite a bit. I am glad that we at least made time for Xijiang though.

Dave in Xijiang, 2016

Minority villages are everywhere in China, but the closest we’ve come to feeling like one was authentic was in Guizhou. You’ll see traditional architecture in these towns and people will often be in traditional costumes as well. There are always trinkets and souvenirs to buy and local food to taste. When we lived in Guizhou, I took this a bit for granted. I found Xijiang to feel a lot more authentic than Tongli, in Suzhou.

People still live in these towns, and although it isn’t 100% authentically traditional, they are still farming with hand ploughs and there are beautiful rice paddies all around. It’s peaceful.

To get to Xijiang, you can take a bus or a slow train to Kaili. We actually went after classes one Sunday night, and got to Kaili at around 11pm. Getting a taxi was rough (it would be easier now with Didi), and when we got to our hotel, they didn’t want to take us, because we are foreigners.

**Pro China Tip** I strongly suggest booking with if you are staying in more remote places. We’ve had a few bad experiences in the past where we’ve arrived at the hotel, only to find out that they can’t take foreigners. If this happens when you booked with, you aren’t going to get much support. If you go with, however, they’ll find you a new room. They offer much better support in that regard.

Zhenyuan Ancient Town

Of all our weekend trips during our time in Guizhou, my favorite was definitely Zhenyuan. We went there in an attempt to escape the noise and pollution of the city. We needed to unwind and Zhenyuan was perfect for that.

This clean and peaceful river was soothing to my culture shocked soul.

I wrote a couple of posts about our time in Zhenyuan, and they are actually 2 of my most viewed posts of all time. Not many people visit that little gem of a town, so they don’t realize that they’re missing out. Zhenyuan was the first little Guizhou adventure Dave and I took in that first year living in China, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

If you want to read more about our trip to Zhenyuan, you can click here or here! There are lots of pictures and tips of what you can do and see there!

6 years later and I’m still proud of this picture!!

Other Options

Of course, these are just the places we ended up going, but there are plenty of other places you can visit within a day as well. Huangguoshu Waterfall along with the beautiful scenery nearby is an excellent option. Dragon Palace is nearby too, where you can see over 90 karst caves. Guizhou is full of natural beauty that you can see on a day trip outside of Guiyang.

If you have a bit more time, there are some incredible options to see other ancient towns, hike Mount Fanjing, or even visit Zunyi, home of China’s most famous brand of alcohol: Moutai.

With Guizhou’s milder climate and natural beauty, I really don’t think you can go wrong visiting this beautiful province. I may be a little biased because I called this place home for a year, but I think that as long as you have a sense of adventure Guiyang is a must see if you live in China!!

There is a higher ratio of squatter toilets in Guizhou, and your bed may not be as soft as you’re used to, but those are minor inconveniences in return for all this province has to offer!

The next stop on this epic 2021 Summer trip is the city of Yangshuo, in Guanxi Province!! We were there once before, but this trip was just as epic (and full of totally new experiences!!)

Spoiler: It was Beautiful!!!

Hot but beautiful!! Stay tuned!

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