Yintan Dong Village is one of the most famous of a number of Dong minority villages located in Guizhou Province in south-central China. The traditional customs of the villagers that have endured for many centuries, the unique village-center tower, and the many annual cultural festivals bring many tourists to this secluded little village. The scenic beauty of majestic mountain heights and thick Yew tree forests is yet another attraction that keeps Yintan Dong Village a popular spot for travelers to visit.
One village is surrounded on three sides by mountains and a path approaches it on the final side. A river runs through the village, winding around ancient trees and wooden houses that stand on stilts. Such houses are scattered along the sides of hills and rise into the green leaves of the trees. All in all, it is an impressive and picturesque sight that one is sure to remember for years to come.
The villagers carry on the ancient cloth weaving and fabric dying skills passed down to them from their ancestors. Almost every house has an indigo dying barrel within it, and covering almost every back are clothes manufactured from first to last by the locals themselves.
Visitors are welcomed with a traditional ceremony to honor guests and numerous local festivals will offer a glimpse into Dong ethnic lifestyle. Dong New Year (in mid January) and the Guzang Festival in which thanks are given for a plentiful harvest and Dong religious practices are expressed are two of the most important of these. Singing, playing the Lusheng (local bamboo musical instrument), dancing, daily wearing of ethnic style clothing, and dining on traditional foods all contribute to the cultural life of Yintan Dong Village.
The Drum Tower of Zengchong is the main architectural feature of the village, and its 13 hexagon-shaped stories and frontal gate structure hold special symbolic values to the Dong. Near this tower, the villagers gather to greet guests, pray to ancestors, discuss village happenings, and perform numerous ceremonies.
The village is located 252 km (157 mi) south of Kaili City and 20 km (12 mi) north of Congjiang. The preferred method of arrival is to first take a bus from Kaili to Congjiang and then another bus from Congjiang to the village.
The climate is relatively mild year long, but the monsoons come between April and June, December through February is somewhat chilly, and June and July can get quite hot. Thus Spring and Fall are the best times to visit as far as weather. However, one may wish to come in February to attend the Early Festival held in Kaili wherein bullfighting, horse racing, ethnic musical performances, and much more will take place.
Yintan Dong Village is only one among many ethnic villages in the area. Others include: Yisha Miao Village, Jiajiu Miao Village, Xiaohuang Village, Zhanli Dong Village, etc. Each of these villages will also have local traditions and festivals throughout the year.
Consider stopping at Caohai Lake to view the many wetland birds that resort there, seeing some of the numerous Dong-built covered bridges in the province which are known as "Wind and Rain Bridges," and checking out the ancient ruins of Kongmingtang.
Guizhou Province is home to a great number and variety of ethnic minorities including the Dong people. There is much to be gained from learning of the ways of other ethnicities which often differ greatly from the culture we are already accustomed to. It is good for every tourist to be a cross-cultural learner as well as to simply enjoy the many new things he or she encounters in a journey to a far away land.