The cities of eastern China are regularly wreathed in smog, so for pastoral scenery and fresh air, many Chinese head south-west. Going on holiday is increasingly common for city dwellers, thanks to new airports and a growing motorway network. But this has put a strain on classic destinations such as Guilin (famous for its karst scenery) and lakeside Dali in Yunnan province, which are frequently crowded. The Guizhou region, with its cavernous gorges and ethnic minorities, offers an enticing alternative.
The economic boom enjoyed on China’s east coast over the past 30 years has left landlocked Guizhou behind. The upside for travellers is that the province long labelled “China’s poorest” remains unspoilt, with a wealth of uncrowded historic sites.
But now the Beijing government is trying to tackle wealth disparities across the nation by building transport links. A high-speed rail line opened in 2014 connecting Guizhou’s capital, Guiyang, with Guangzhou and the Pearl River Delta north of Hong Kong, and more lines are planned to Chongqing, Kunming and Changsha.