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Sanjiang Travel Guide

Location: situated between north latitude 254 - 260 and east longitude 10814' - 10945', in the north area of the Guangxi Zhuang Automomous Region; at the middle beaches of the Xunjiang River; in the joint area of the three provinces: Hunan, Guizhou province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.SanJiang Dong autonomous county is in the north of GuangXi, at the border of Guangxi, HuNan and GuiZhou provinces. The population in SanJiang is three hundred and sixty thousand, most of which are Dong, Miao, Yao, Zhuang and Han peoples. The population of the Dong is two hundred and ten thousand in SanJiang.

Sanjiang features well-preserved Dong villages with their wooden houses, drum towers and shelter bridges which dot the countryside hereabouts, The Dong makes up 50% of the population in Sanjiang. The other nationalities inhabiting there are Han, Zhuang, Miao, Yao, Menchu, Hui, Maonan, Gelao and Yi.

Dong people in Sanjiang have a very unique food culture. Sour dishes are their favorite. Almost all kinds of food they make are served in sour flavor.


 

SanJiang is known for its widely varied and colorful ancient culture, with is 111 Wind and Rain Bridges and 179 Drum-Towers is called the home of Chinese national architecture. ChengYang Wind and Rain Bridges and MaPang Drun-Tower are the most famous. It is also known for its many monority festivals and as the birthpalce of Dong artistic cultrue. The traditional Dong songs, with their distinctive style, are well-known even outside of China. For these reasons, SanJiang is the best place to learn about the Dong minority people. The surrounding mountains are pristine and the river are very clean.

The best way to experience the culture of this area is to get out of the city and head for the hills. Chengyang is the best base for exploration. It is made up of 8 different villages, however Ma'an is the only village that offers guesthouse accommodation. From here, you can take day hikes out to the other villages or catch local buses or pedicabs along the main road. The markets in this area run on a five day cycle and locals will let you know where to find them. If you're feeling lazy, Chengyang is also a great place to kick back and relax, sit down by the river with a good book, listen to the ancient waterwheels and soak up the beautiful surroundings.

The Dong people living in this remote mountain region have preserved their culture well. The architecture remains traditional: the houses are wooden and built in a unique Dong style, and in the villages are dotted with drumtowers and "wind and rain"  bridges. If you eat with local families, you can taste Dong specialities such as sour fish and pickled pork, and sip locally brewed rice wine. At night, you can enjoy song and dance performances by the townspeople in their traditional costumes.

Dong people are famous for their singing. Since the Dong minority didn't have a writing system of their own until 1958, their history and stories were all recorded and passed down through songs. The most popular form of song is the 'grand song' which contains various themes ranging from love stories to historical events to moral lessons. These are all performed by a chorus, and the formal performing place is the village drum-tower. Any visitor to the area should make sure they experience a "grand song" performance to fully appreciate the depth and beauty of the local Dong culture.

Weather & climate
Sanjiang is located at the base of rugged and rolling mountains and where the weather can be humid and changeable. Spring is accompanied almost by daily drizzle. Torrential rains occasionally strike the area in summer. As well as the general travel necessities, something to protect you from the rain is necessary when traveling to Sanjiang.

Sanjiang Attractions
Sanjiang, a county belonging to Liuzhou City in Guangxi Autonomous Region, lies at the joint area of Guangxi, Guizhou and Hunan provinces. As one of the five Dong minority autonomous counties in China, Sanjiang has the largest population of the Dong people. Therefore, Sanjiang boasts the Dong people's distinctive architecture – the drum tower and the Wind and Rain Bridge.

Representing the high-quality building technology of the Dong people, drum towers in the Dong villages are spectacular and exquisite. Each Dong village has at least one drum tower. Some have four or five towers. Usually the drum hanging on the tower is made of cow skin, used for calling people before a meeting or for asking for help when accidents happen.

Situated in Mapang Village, 16 miles away from the county, the Mapang Drum Tower is a typical drum tower in Sanjiang. Built in 1928, it has nine floors and is 16.4 yards high. Shaping like a pagoda, the tower was engraved with dragons and phoenixes on the eaves. A sculpture of crane is standing on the top of the tower which symbolizes auspiciousness. The entire structure is joined together with redwood, without a single iron nail. It is said that the Dong architect drew the blueprint with only a carpenter's square and a bamboo marker.

The Wind and Rain Bridge is another characteristic feature of the Dong minority's architecture. The most well-known one in Sanjiang is Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge. Located in the Chengyang Village of Sanjiang County, the bridge spans the Linxi River. Thus it is also called Linxi Wind and Rain Bridge. Built in 1916 and was once damaged by super floods, it is now well-preserved and still keeps firm. While the Batuan Wind and Rain Bridge which situates in Batuan Village, is of another kind. Although smaller than the Chengyang Bridge, this bridge is six years older and is unique for having two separate lanes for people and livestock.

If visitors want to see more of the local bridges and drum towers, they may go to the Dong Ethnic Eco-museum. Centered on the Dong Ethnic Museum in the county, the eco-museum consists of nine Dong villages including 28 drum towers and 13 bridges, where visitors can have an eyeful of the Dong architecture.

Each city has its history. The history of Sanjiang can be traced in the Liangkou Scenic Area and the Danzhou Scenic Area, where many of the ancient constructions were built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Among them, the Sanwang (Three Kings) Palace and the Ancient Banyan of the Liangkou Scenic Area deserve avisit.

Sanjiang is a wonderland, a mysterious region traditionally inhabited by the Dong people. The visitors who come here are intoxicated by its unique culture, buildings and picturesque landscapes. The most popular attractions are

Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge. 
Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge Scenic Area. 
Danzhou Scenic Area. 
Dong People's Eco-Museum. 
Laobao Scenic Area. 
Liangkou Scenic Area. 
Mapang Scenic Area.

There is good bus service to/from Guilin. There are also busses west into Guizhou. The usual traveller's route is to Congjiang then Kaili.

Busses from Longsheng are 1.5 hours, and from Guilin 4.5 hours.

Highlights
Dong buildings of houses, towers and bridges / multiplex Dong festivals / Ruralities

Getting there & away

By bus
Direct daily buses from Guilin, Liuzhou,Congjiang to Sanjiang. But there are 2 bus stations in Sanjiang on either side of the river; buses from Longsheng and Guilin terminate at a depot 200m south of the bridge down the Longsheng road - look For the speed barrier at the entrance on a curve in the road, as it's not otherwise marked - while those arriving from Guizhou province wind up immediately north of the bridge in the centre of town.

Leaving Sanjiang, there are buses to Longsheng, Guilin, Wuzhou and Liuzhou from the south bus station; those for local villages, Congjiang, Tongle, Zhaoxing and Liping leave from north bus station. Minibuses to the train station, Mapang and Bajiang also leave from outside the north bus station.

Sanjiang's bus station has daily services to Zhaoxing, Liping and Nanning; several daily for Congjiang(4.5hrs) , Liuzhou, Longsheng(2.5hrs) and Guilin;

Sanjiang Bus Station hotline:0772-8612202 / 8617785

By train
From Huaihua[Hunan], Xiangfan[Hubei], Zhanjiang(Guangdong ) and Liuzhou, there are trains passing through Sanjiang.

Getting Around
Regular buses available in Sanjiang city to the scenic spots around like Chengyang, departures every forty minutes to Chengyang.

For Mapang, Bajiang and other smaller destinations, look for minibuses between the bus station and bridge, which leave when full or when chartered.

Tractors, known locally as "Dong taxis".
Info. Center - Back near the bus station, the Wind and Rain Bridge Travel Service (tel 0772-8613369) is a particularly helpful and conscientious source of information, as the manager is fluent in both English and the Dong dialect. You don't have to buy their service.

Lodging
If you don't jump straight on a bus to Chengyang and need to stay in Sanjiang, there are tons of cheap accommodation just across from the south bus station

Baihuo Zhaodaisuo-singles Y25~30; doubles/triples/quads Y30-75);
Travellers' Guesthouse -Tel 0772-8615584; Y30-75),500m out along the Longsheng road.
Chengyang Qiao Binguan -Tel 0772-8613071; Y75-100- 100m from the bus station, whose restaurant is the best in town;
Dining

Try noodle and hotpot stalls around the bridge, or track down slightly more upmarket places surrounding the back street market square down past the Chengyang Qiao Binguan.

Must-see Villages in Guizhou and Guangxi
      Basha      Zhaoxing      Tang'An      Xijiang      Sanjiang      Longsheng    

  Popular Attractions In Guilin                  More


Lijiang River


Elephant Hill


Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge Scenic Area


Dong Ethnic Villages in Sanjiang