To spend time in the village, you must book at least a night at a traditional Yao home (see lodging tab for more info).
Due to the transit time to the village, I recommend 3-4 nights as a minimum.
Good to know
There is no grocery store, so bring your own snacks. The neighbor, Ayi, will cook all meals for you, at your request. The easiest way to get to the village is by coordinating a transfer from the Guilin Airport, train station or hotel. If anyone in your family tends toward car sickness, take Dramamine before the ride as you will be ascending curvy mountain roads.
Hiking the terraces, then eating lunch, takes about a half day. Time is a little “loose” in the village, but you can schedule activities like hiking on the terraces with Ayi, who is the house manager, any day you are there.
Recommended time of the year
The weather was gorgeous and mild in December. Summer months would be quite hot and humid, and mosquitos would be an issue.
Meals are served family-style, so discuss ahead of time how many servings will be needed. For instance, in our family, we paid for 5 servings each meal instead of 7.
About This Day
If you are traveling through China with kids, plan a trip to a village in Guilin with Laojia and take part in the daily life of the people who live in rural China. Visiting a Yao minority village in Guilin is inspiring and educational for the entire family. Watch people live off the land as they have done for generations. Experience the allure of the Li River and go for a hike in the village’s terraced gardens, which is not only beautiful but useful since you pick the vegetables for your dinner. It’s a great place to take children because they can participate in authentic village life. Parents will enjoy the unique architecture and authentic village. Nothing here is touristy. You will be the only outsiders. Compared to the busy pace of China’s mega cities, having time in the village allows families to unplug and be in tune with nature.
Our whole family loved the calm pace of the village and the authentic experiences it offered. Living in a traditional Yao minority house for several days was charming and unlike anything we have experienced before. The children had the chance to observe the rice fields and to pick vegetables to cook for dinner while on our hike with Li Ayi. Seeing where the vegetables were grown and participating in the harvest made the kids more adventurous in their eating. The views above the village are completely otherworldly and were a photographer's dream. As parents, we loved hiking above the village for that reason.
DIRECTIONS To do this hike, first stay at the Laojia Airbnb. Head toward the forest from the house, cross over stream/bridge and look for a steep path into the fields on your left. Follow the path up into the terraces. If you would like to pick vegetables for dinner, ask Ayi, who is the house manager if you can help her.
TIP Sturdy shoes are a must, and take the walking sticks that are offered, as the path can sometimes get slippery. Take your time and bring water and sunscreen.
One of the highlights of the day was when Li Ayi would begin cooking. She would let the children stir the food and add vegetables, as well as help her with the fire. Dinner is cooked in a back room of the house in a wok over the fire. Our children (ages 5-11) loved eating in the traditional way, on stools around it.
DIRECTIONS You can plan for Li Ayi to prepare your meals by marking which ones you want on the white board. She makes dinner in the house where you are staying.
TIP Li Ayi cooks dinner, but then she goes and cooks at her own house. There is a bag you can put any leftover food to feed to the pigs next door. This helped take the pressure off if there was an ingredient the kids didn't love. Your cook isn't standing around watching you eat!
WE LOVEDStaying here is the way to see what village life is really like in China. There are no other foreigners in the village except your family. The beds are extremely comfortable, unlike most places we stayed in China. The host is extremely helpful. Once you book, you will receive an extensive guide from the host explaining all you need to know.
WE DIDN'T LIKEI wished we had brought a few of our own groceries. The meals were delicious, but the children craved some more snack-type food. I also would have brought creamer for the coffee they provided.
TIPYou can book individual rooms in the house, but I recommend families go ahead and book all 3 rooms like we did (so you don't have to share a bathroom).
STAYED19 December, 2016 with 5 year old, 7 year old, 9 year old, 9 year old, 11 year old