jan 9-23, 2019

$6,590 (per person, based on double occupancy)


Day 1 – Shanghai

Arrive in Shanghai and transfer to our hotel. We have a group dinner tonight. 

Overnight: Shanghai Mansion Broadway Mansion Hotel River View Room ***** (D). 

Day 2 – Shanghai to Guiyang to Zhaoxing

We take an early morning flight to Guiyang. We then drive 5.5 hours to Zhaoxing, the largest Dong Ethnic Minorities Village in the world. Guizhou is one of China’s lesser-known provinces and best kept secrets. It was opened to tourists in the late 1980s. It has the most hills and the least sunshine in China. Guizhou is nicknamed ‘The Kingdom of Mountains’, as 87% of its land is comprised of mountains and plateaus. The Capital Guiyang city, literarily translation is “Precious Sunshine”. 

Guizhou is a multicultural province with third largest ethnic population in China. Forty-eight distinct ethnic groups live alongside Han Chinese who has migrated there from all regions of the country. The variety of ethnic groups living in Guizhou makes up 36 percent of the total population of 40 million. A major charm of the province for travelers is the number of festivals, resplendent with color and suffused with music, that take place throughout the year and that remain an important part of continuing traditional lifestyles and customs.

However, like all the tribes elsewhere in the world, more and more young people in Guizhou is working outside in the city, their valuable culture is vanishing. Fewer and fewer young people know how to make their traditional costume and its exquisite embroidery. Most of them only dress the colorful traditional costume during the festivals or special dates when they return home. As a lot of villages are located in the deep mountains, among the festivals, in the past, one of the important functions is providing the opportunities for young men and young girls to know each other.

Other festivals are mainly celebrating the harvest and worshipping the ancestors. The major ethnic minorities in Guizhou are different sub-groups of Miao. Miao people was regarded their ancestor as Chiyou in Yellow River region. They were good at agriculture, so it was very strong tribes. Then Yellow Emperor and Yan Emperor united to beat Chiyou. They had to migrate southwards where less plains for scale agriculture and much more mountains with poisonous plants and insects. Easy for frequently migrating, Miao people spent most of their fortune to buy silver craft for women in the past.

Also, silver is a good way to test poison for food and water. Later, the unmarried girl’s family spent years to make a finery costume with full of silver craft for the girl during the courtship festival. This area is also the most silver expense place in China. Some of Miao people keep migrating to Southeast Asia; they called Meng in Vietnam and Thailand. As Miao people’s animal-worshipping religion, buffalo horn is their tattoo. We will see a lot of sub group of Miao women’s head dress is all kinds of buffalo’s horn.

Guizhou is an agricultural province, but as its hilly geography, most of farm work is made by labor. During the traveling time of Chinese New Year, most of people will return home, so our arranged performances and their own festivals got most local audience’s attention, which provides more photogenic opportunities. 

Overnight: Indigo Lodge *** (B, L, D).

Day 3 – Zhaoxing to Rongjiang

Today, we photograph Zhaoxing Dong Ethnic Minorities Village at sweet morning light. Afterwards, we drive to explore and visit another Dong Ethnic Minorities Village. After lunch, we photograph a performance at Basha village – the last gun village in China. 

Overnight: Dongxiangmi Grand Hotel Rongjiang *** (B, L, D).

Day 4 – Rongjiang to Kaili

Today, we drive along Duliu River to experience the Sui people’s life and living environment. This route was selected as one of National Geographic Traveler’s “Tours of a Lifetime." We have chance to enjoy the backcountry of China, and the valuable and vanishing ethnic minority culture and history. Today, we photograph Long Skirt Miao Performance in Langde or Jidao en route. 

Overnight:Kaili Grand Metro Park Heaven-sent Dragon Hotel ***** (B, L, D).

Day 5 – Kaili to Guiyang

Today, we drive 40 minutes to Matang Gejia Village, a quiet village inhabited by the Gejia minority, where we will learn about their culture, of which very little is known. The Gejia although classified as Miao are in fact a separate group. Their founder is General Da Sa, probably of Manchu descent. You will see the typical costumes, houses, embroidery and batik making. We photograph the performances and local audience. Afterwards, we visit Qingman Village for this Medium Skirt Miao’s embroidery and performance. In late afternoon, we drive 2.5 hours on highway back to Guiyang. 

Overnight: Guiyang Sheraton Hotel ***** or Guiyang Hyatt Hotel ***** (B, L, D).

Day 6 – Old Ground Opera Performance to Kunming

Today’s program highlights the remaining culture of the old Han (Chinese) ethnic group. The ancestors of these villagers migrated from Jiangxi Province to Guizhou Province in the Ming Dynasty (600 years ago). We will drive for 1.5 hours to reach Liuguan Village. Women here are still dressed in traditional Ming dynasty costumes, and houses remain faithful to the Ming architectural styles. The ancient stone house, lots of legend story and warm-hearted people will leave you an unforgettable experience. We will photograph a local Ground Opera performance, famed for the performers’ symbolic masks, the opera in Liuguan dates to 1382, during the Ming Dynasty. It is said as one of the oldest operas of the world, which is still surviving. Women’s hairstyle is another unique in Old Han People. Ming Dynasty government implied soldier-family management system to govern the whole country. During warring time, the soldiers had to fight in their region. Rest of them, they were farmers. While the men were away, they try to make their wives ugly to keep their loyalty by cutting their hair line very high. Later we will drive 2.5 hours back to Guiyang Airport and fly to Kunming. 

“South of the Clouds” is the literal meaning of Yunnan, and stretching from the high Tibetan Plateau down to the subtropical climes bordering Southeast Asia, it is an amazingly diverse place. Located at the crossroads of Tibet, China and Southeast Asia, it is home to a mix of ethnic groups – 25 of China’s 55 ethnic minorities and making up 30% of the province’s population – from Naxi and Tibetan to Dai, Yi, and Hani. The capital of Yunnan province, the “Spring City” – Kunming, cradled in the foothills of the Himalayas and decorated with diverse flora and fauna – all wrapped up with a culturally rich history. Kunming’s history goes back thousands of years. The city obtained fame during the Ming Dynasty (1364 – 1644 A.D) because of Kunming’s ready supply of metals, the main source for Ming coins. Upon the completion of the Indochina railroad in 1910, Kunming rapidly opened up and became more accessible to the rest of the world, but still remains a nice contrast to the bustling chaos of other Chinese cities.

Overnight: Crown Plaza Kunming City Centre ***** (B, L, D).

PRICE: $6,590

  • Per person in double occupancy room

  • $700 additional for single room accommodation

price includes

  • Service of English-speaking guides and interpreters
  • Private ground transportation to all locations
  • All meals
  • Accommodation according to itinerary
  • All admissions and activity expenses as noted on itinerary
  • 3 arranged performances and models in villages in Guizhou Province
  • Expert photography guidance

price does not include

  • International airfare to and from China
  • Domestic flights within China
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tips
  • Travel insurance and AEA/SOS evacuation coverage ($25/person)
  • What is not mentioned as included


tour overview:

  • Dates: Jan 9-23, 2019
  • Price: $6,590 (per person, based on double occupancy)
  • Location: China
  • Education: field instruction, class instruction and one-on-one critiques

Points of interest: 

  • Shanghai
  • Guiyang
  • Zhaoxing Dong Ethnic Minorities Village Rongjiang
  • Basha Village
  • Dong Village
  • Kaili
  • Langde Long Skirt Miao Village Qingman Miao
  • Matang Gejia Village
  • Jichang Ground Opera
  • Kunming
  • Yuanyang Rice Terrace
  • Jianshui, Zhu Family Garden
  • Xian
  • Terra Cotta Warrior
  • Beijing
  • Great Wall and Summer Palace

Photography guide: Tim Vollmer

Photography guide: Marisa Marulli

Photography guide: Marisa Marulli

I am very happy to recommend Tim and his work. His landscape photography is simply beautiful. Tim’s appreciation of light, composition and his ability to capture the moment is exquisite; with the results on his site speak for themselves.
— Rocky Kirschner