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Xijiang Qianhu is the largest Miao village in China, or in the whole world. It is comprised of over 10 villages built up against the mountain and covers an area of over 50 square kilometers.
Over the last decade, Xijiang has become a famous travel attraction, still preserving the culture, customs and festivals of Miao people.
This is a good place for visiting Miao people and admiring their culture. Will you come and find out more?
Name: Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village (西江千户苗寨)
Location: about 200 km east of Guiyang (about 3 hours’ drive); about 35 km from Kaili (about 45 minutes’ drive)
Popular activities: Visit local Miao people, admire their art and architecture, attend local festivals, enjoy the night scenes
Must-sees: Miao village architectural complex, wind-and-rain bridge
Suitable for: culture lovers, photographers
The welcome ceremony for Xijiang Miao people features 12 portions of blocking-the-way wine. The ceremony is convened twice a day at the north entrance. Local Miao girls in folk costumes offer glutinous-rice wine from ox horns, while Miao men and boys play local instruments.
After the ceremony begins, each visitor to the village has to drink up to 12 horns of wine offered by the girls before being allowed to enter the village. This is the most solemn custom of the Miao people of Xijiang.
Tip: If you can drink alcohol and would like to join in, ask your guide for the actual time of the ceremony. If you prefer not to drink, you may inform your guide, and he/she will help you avoid it. Your visit will not be disrupted.
The homes of Xijiang Miao people are mostly houses on stilts (吊脚楼, “hanging-feet buildings”). The buildings are on 3 levels, with the bottom level used to store farming tools and fertilizer, or to breed livestock; the middle level a dwelling for people; and the top level used to store cereals and other goods.
Outside the main room, you will find long benches with railings, where local people sit for a rest or while making handicrafts. This is a special feature of Miao architecture called the “Beauty Bench (美人靠)”.
Another characteristic of Miao architecture is the covered bridges, or “Wind-and-Rain Bridges (风雨桥)” made by local people. These ancient bridges were built using only wood and without nails.
Some covered bridges were too easily destroyed by flooding. The newly-built ones are built from wood and concrete, increasing their strength and preserving some of their ancient beauty.
Miao people are fond of singing and dancing, and you will have opportunity to enjoy their performances for free. Twice a day, late morning and late afternoon, local people dress up and perform their songs and dances at a special theater.
Most Miao people are friendly to foreign tourists. People can enjoy a hike around their valley and observe the farms and villages in the area. You may be able to have a meal with a Miao farming family.
Strolling along the farmers’ paths you can enjoy the local environment, including a river valley with terraced fields, intricate wooden houses built in Miao architectural style, and farmers working the land with their oxen.
There is a viewing platform on the mountain providing visitors with a panoramic view of the whole village. Towards evening, thousands of families in the village light up their lamps. At night, the village becomes a world of lights. Remember to snap up the magnificent view.
Tip: The weather may be cool even in summer. Prepare a thin coat if you want to see the night views.
Read some photography tips for minority villages in Guizhou.
Miao women in Xijiang wear elegant and glittering silver ornaments. On festival days they wear large neck rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, beads and sheaths of engraved silver.
For a few RMB you can dress up as a Miao man or woman and have your picture taken. You can also browse the streets and alleys for some silver ornaments or folk artifacts. If you want to buy some, ask your guide to help you look for bargains!
The village is a center for grand Miao festivals and celebrations. Miao people from surrounding villages gather in Xijiang for such celebrations. Famous festivals include the Lusheng Festival, Miao New Year and the Sisters' Meal Festival. Song and dance are a major part of these festivals.
Check the dates of some ethnic festivals.
The Long Table Banquet (长桌宴) is a popular activity among Miao people. In the restaurants of Xijiang, you can sample local cuisine at long tables, for a taste of minority culture.
Real Long Table Banquets are only hosted during important festivals and ceremonies. Then you can have a meal with thousands of people at a long table; so long that you can’t see where it ends. Ask our travel consultant for more information.
Xijiang Miao Museum is in the village and an entrance ticket is included in the entrance fee. The museum is a Miao building and the exhibition displays the history, culture, stories, festivals and other customs of the Miao people.
Xijiang Qianhu is the largest, and perhaps the most famous Miao village, well-developed as a tour attraction. Usually, ‘famous’ means commercialized and over-crowded, and this is also true of Xijiang.
Your guide, however, can take you off the beaten path where large groups of tourists will not go. In the silent alleys, away from the bustling streets, you may have the good fortune to get a feel for the authentic life of the Miao people of old.
Read about other minority villages in Guizhou.
The best time to travel to Xijiang Qianhu is May, June or early July, for this is not yet the peak season and the weather is great.
The peak season is July and August (summer holidays) and the first week of October (National Day holiday). If you go during the peak season, you should book with us as early as possible, and be prepared to confront a horde of tourists.
There are, however, more festivals, performances and events during the peak season. In summer, you may find that Xijiang is a carnival world. Although there are many more people, your guide will try to help you avoid the squeeze from crowds. You need a bit of life at a carnival, don’t you?
It might be a good idea to enjoy the carnival in Xijiang and then visit some less popular minority villages, with more authentic and untouched customs. Your travel consultant and guide can help you to arrange such an itinerary even during your trip.
If you are interested in Chinese minority culture, it is possible to visit some other less crowded and less commercialized minority villages with us. Check out Guizhou tours for reference. All the listed itineraries can be customized!