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Hotels still offer the best dining options, but restaurants serving a variety of Chinese cuisine are popping up along Shangmao Jie in the newly developing southern part of town. These spots are geared toward locals, so don't expect English menus. But do venture here if you're tired of hotel food. Make sure you recognize the characters for dog meat (gourou) if that's not something you're game for. For thrill seekers there is a row of specialist dog eateries on the old museum road (Bowuguan Xi Lu) that leads off Beijing Xi Lu between the Wan Bo Underground Shopping Arcade and the Guizhou Power Supply Bureau. Across on the square, listen for the cracks of whips as locals play with wooden tops.

A lively night market on the Shaoshan Road above the tunnel on offers barbecue, noodles, dumplings (jiaozi), meat buns (baozi), and fresh fruit.

The closest approximation to Western food can be found at Victoria, located at You Zhuang Lu 168, although the service and choice may be disappointing.

After a day exploring the countryside, my favorite experience was calling in at the local market on Lian Hua Xiang, where a Miao lady with a big red plastic bucket sold me a large plastic bag of the most delicious sour soup (suan tang), a local delicacy that goes for ¥1 (15¢/10p) per jing (half kilo). It tastes very much like a consomme filled with lightly pickled vegetables. I also picked up a couple of roast sweet potatoes and some local pancakes to take home with me. What was most surprising was how peoples' attitudes changed when they saw me carrying a big bag of the local soup. A population that had just the day before seemed surly and suspicious was now all smiles. This is useful tip anywhere in China: Walk around sampling the local fare and it suddenly becomes much easier to make friends.

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.