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A new highway between Guiyang and the Huangguoshu Falls enables visitors to make the trip in a day. Those short on time would do well to hire a private car, which your hotel or, in a pinch, CITS, can help arrange.

Huangguoshu Pubu (Huangguoshu Falls)

Asia's largest waterfall, located 150km (90 miles) and just over 2 hours on the highway southwest of Guiyang, has become a tourist trap of immense proportions. Many foreigners have reported being underwhelmed by the falls (named for the indigenous huangguoshu or yellow fruit tree), possibly because they visited during the dry season (Nov-Apr), when the usual torrents are reduced to a mere trickle. Others complain about the huge amounts of trash floating in the water, aggressive vendors, and ill-mannered domestic tourists, as well as the fact that all the trekking paths away from the falls have now been blocked.

Fed by the Baishui River (Baishui He), the main waterfall spans 81m (266 ft.) and plunges down a precipitous 74m (243 ft.) into Rhinoceros Pool. The Water Curtain Cave, a 100m-long (328-ft.) walkway behind the falls, is currently closed off to visitors. There are three entrances to the falls: just south of Huangguoshu town, next to the Huangguoshu Binguan, and next to the cable car. Admission to the falls is now a ridiculous ¥180 ($23/£12).

During the rainy season, other falls to visit include Doubotang Pubu (about 1km/ 2/3 mile upstream from the main falls) and Luositan Pubu (about 1km/ 2/3 mile downstream). The latest attraction for Chinese tourists is Tianxing Qiao Jingqu (Heavenly Star Bridge Scenic Area; ¥80 ($10/£5.20) about 8km (5 miles) below the main falls. Highlights include a large cave full of the usual karst formations, a wonderful tableau of steppingstones rising from the water, and a waterfall. It's nice, if you can explore away from the crowds.

The falls are very well lit in the evenings, which makes an overnight stay worthwhile to go with the rainbows that you saw during the day. If you want to spend the night, the three-star Xin Huangguoshu Binguan (tel. 0853/359-2110) offers the nicest accommodations and a Chinese restaurant. Up a driveway off the main road south of the village, the hotel has large, bright, and comfortable standard rooms with sparkling new bathrooms (shower only) for ¥480 ($62/£31).

Loggong Dong (Dragon Palace Caves)

About 132km (79 miles) west of Guiyang is a string of 90 karst caves that stretch for over 15km (9 miles) through some 20 hills. Until recently, only 840m (2,755 ft.) of the main Dragon Palace Cave (¥120/$16/£7.80; open 8am-6:30pm/5:30pm in winter) is open to the public, although the newly opened Guanyin Cave houses 32 Buddha statues, the largest being 13m (41 ft.). Rowboats take visitors through five chambers of colorfully lit, wonderfully weird karst formations, as tacky Muzak plays in the background. When the water levels are low, you'll have to return by boat, but during the rainy season, visitors can climb stone ladders in the last chamber to Tiger's Den, then slowly meander back to the entrance through a stone forest park. Private car hire and an organized tour from Guiyang are the most convenient ways to visit.

Minority Villages

The area southwest of Guiyang around Anshun is home to the Bouyi, one of the original peoples of southwest China, who number around 2.5 million today. Related to the Zhuang, the poorer Bouyi are skilled stonemasons, forced by the rocky karst terrain to build entire hillside villages out of stone. One such village worth visiting is Shitou Zhai (Stone Village) where, not surprisingly, all the walls, bridges, roads, and houses are made of stone. Home to about 200 households, the village sits along the river Baishui He and is surrounded by pretty green paddies. You can pick up some of the Bouyi's famous batik here, since everyone seems to have a batik workshop in their house. Discerning buyers should look for hyperrealistic and even erotic motifs. Shitou Zhai is off the main highway about 15km (9 miles) beyond the Longgong turnoff and 5km (3 miles) before Huangguoshu. Watch for the turnoff and travel another kilometer or so along the dirt road to the village.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.