From all the provinces in Southwest China, Guizhou is probably the least popular among travelers. Between the delicacies of Sichuan, the scenery of Guangxi and the ethnic minorities of Yunnan, Guizhou has a hard time getting noticed. The fact is Guizhou is essentially a combination of all three, so if you only have time for a short trip to the Southwest and you can’t cover all the renowned provinces, Guizhou is a nice 3 in 1 package. Don’t just take my word for it, see for yourselves:
I spent five days in Guizhou last May. It was a class field trip so I had no part in organizing it. Therefore I can’t give you much detail on the how and when, but I can help you with the what and where. Here’s a map of all the places which were on our itinerary:
View Guizhou Trip 2013 in a larger map
What to do
Guizhou is best know for two attraction. One is the Huangguoshu Waterfalls and the other is the Miao ethnic minority Villages. Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou Province is located right between them The waterfalls are to the southwest of Guiyang and the Miao Ethnic Minority Autonomous Region is to the east the city. If you are coming to Guizhou from Yunnan you should first visit the waterfalls, then continue to Guiyang and see the capital, and then take the train to Kaili and see the Miao Village. If you are crossing Guizhou towards Yunnan or Sichuan you should do it the other way around.
From all the places we have visited in the city of Guiyang, I liked Qingyan Ancient Town the best. If you do spend one day in the capital this is the place I would start from.
Fish in Sour Soup
The dish which is most associated with Guizhou is Fish in Sour Soup (酸汤鱼 – suān tāng yú). Sour soup dishes come in many shapes and form but the most common version of this one is grass carp in red soup with bean sprouts and coriander.
Fish in Sour Soup is actually a kind of a hotpot dish. It is served on an electric or open flame stove and in most restaurants you may choose the type of fish and all the other ingredients you want in the soup like vegetables, mushroom, noodles, meat, tofu and so on. Of course it wouldn’t be a complete hotpot experience without dips. In the case of Fish in Sour Soup they are dry dips, one is ground peanuts and the other is chili dip.
You don’t have to go all the way to Guizhou to enjoy this fine soup. There are many Guizhou restaurants specializing in this particular dish all over China. I found two nice ones in Beijing. One is called 2 贵酸汤鱼 (Èr Guì Suān Tāng Yú). It’s in Wudaokou not far from BLCU East Gate. The address is 北京海淀区学院路弘彧大厦一层7-2 (Beijing, Haidian District, Xueyuan Rd, Hongyu Building, 1st floor 7-). The other one is called Luoluo Hotpot (箩箩酸汤鱼). It’s in Guijie between Dongzhimen and Beixinqiao. The address is 东直门内大街186号 (Dongzhimen Nei Street 186). Here’s a map showing their location:
View Fish in Sour Soup Restaurants in a larger map
Two more dishes I tried in the trip and are worth mentioning here are Guzang Meat (牯藏肉 – gǔ zàng ròu) which is a traditional Miao dish you can get in Miao Villages as part of the traditional long table meal. That meal is something you don’t wanna miss.
The other one is the Deep Fried Fish (干炸小鱼 – gān zhá xiǎo yú) we had in the waterfalls which is a common dish found in many restaurants and not only Guizhou ones:
Since you are in the south of China, you might also want to try some smoked meat (腊肉 – là ròu). It’s long tradition of that region and a source of much pride.
Of all the street food I tried in the trip, the most interesting one was the Bingfen (冰粉) I had at Qingyan Ancient Town. If you are looking for street food in Guiyang the place you need to go is the snack street on Road Two Seven. If you are really brave you may want to try the night market in Kaili.
Well, that’s pretty much all I have to say about Guizhou.
Have a great trip!