Tribal China

Across the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, including the Sisters’ Meal Festival
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 24 days
Arrive: Beijing, China
Depart: Kunming, China
Lodging: 22 nights in hotels, 1 night village homestay
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland cultural adventure with optional hikes


  • Exquisite Han villages with Ming Dynasty architecture
  • Traditional Miao Festival, Miao, Aini, and Dai villages
  • Lijiang, a World Heritage Site
  • Gyalthang in the Tibetan highlands

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

Join veteran Asia Trip Leader Roger Williams to discover Guizhou, a hidden realm of ancient Miao and Old Han villages, and magnificent Yunnan, with its ancient walled cities and soaring Tibetan highlands. We begin in Guizhou, whose landscape is stunning, with limestone karst hills, jagged peaks, and terraced rice fields. Here we have an intriguing look into village China, meeting Old Han and Long-Skirt Miao villagers and hiking in exquisite landscapes that seem drawn from classical Chinese landscape paintings. On one of our days here, we witness the annual Sisters’ Meal Festival, a wildly colorful event unique to Miao culture, and we have the rare cultural opportunity of one overnight in a village homestays hosted by a local family. Our northward arc into Yunnan brings us to Dali, once a stop on the Silk Road, and Lijiang, a World Heritage Site and one of the most picturesque towns in the world, nestled below the inspiring form of Jade Dragon Mountain. We end with a flourish in the old Tibetan town of Gyalthang, the perfect place to explore the magnificent Tibetan highlands, land of the Khampa horseman, the Himalayan blue poppy and soaring peaks. This will be an amazing cultural adventure!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Beijing, China / Guiyang / Guizhou

From Beijing, we fly to Guiyang and head out to explore the cultural heritage of the old Han (Chinese) ethnic group, whose ancestors migrated here during the Ming Dynasty. In Han villages, many women still dress in traditional blue Ming Dynasty costumes and the houses retain Ming architectural styles.

Days 4-5
Guiyang / Xiaba and Dazhai villages

We explore villages around the Xiaba area, with a hike through the exquisite Damochong Valley, including Dazhai village, an enchanting maze of old wooden houses nestled among green paddy fields. Overnight on Day 4 is a homestay with a local rural family, a fantastic cultural experience.

Days 6-10
Kaili / Sisters’ Meal Courtship Festival / Shidong / Leishan

Kaili is the center of the Miao culture, and here we hike between fascinating villages. While here, we witness the fascinating Sistersí Meal Festival, a courtship festival where Miao girls in intricate silver headdresses and beautiful embroidered costumes flaunt their wealth and beauty to attract their future husbands. This is a colorful event replete with horse races, singing, and dancing.

Days 11-13
Jinghong / Aini and Dai Villages

We fly to Kunming and on to Jinghong on the Mekong River. We visit villages of the Aini culture set among mountainside tea plantations and explore the lively market at Ganlanba, a village of Dai people.

Days 15-19
Dali / Lijiang

Flying to Dali, we explore the 14th century Old Town, with its delightful Bai architecture, then head up to Lijiang, a World Heritage Site and center of Naxi culture.

Days 20-24
Shangri La (Gyalthang) / Khampa Culture

Visiting famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, we head to Gyalthang on the Tibetan Plateau at 10,800 feet. In centuries past, Gyalthang was a stopover on the tea caravan route between Yunnan and Tibet. Today it is still the heartland of the Khampa Tibetans, with their age-old traditions as swashbuckling horsemen and caravan traders. Fly to Kunming on Day 24 to connect with homeward-bound flights.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 3, Moderate, according to our trip rating system. While this trip is not expected to be physically strenuous, the long travel days and transportation conditions may be quite demanding. Accommodations are in good city hotels plus one night of basic accommodation in a village homestay. Overland travel is in minivans and small buses, depending upon the size of the group. Travel distances on some days are long. In Gyalthang, we are at an altitude of 10,800 feet, with excursions that take us a bit higher. Individuals vary widely in their physical response to high altitude. It is not uncommon to experience mild headaches or sleeplessness for a day or two when you first arrive at high altitude. For your own enjoyment, we recommend that you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. We believe that the most important requirements are a spirit of adventure and the understanding that you are visiting a remote and fascinating region. This is not a hiking trip, but we do hope to have opportunities for walks of two hours or more during the journey.

Explanation of Trip Levels