Saturday, November 24, 2018

Side-trip to Nanjiang Canyon

During our longer stay in Guiyang, we took a one-night trip out to Nanjiang Canyon. There's virtually no English information about Nanjiang online, which makes sense once you realize that there is no English infrastructure and no English speakers at Nanjiang Canyon. That said, it was a blast and I'd absolutely go back!

Apparently, our tagline for this whole blog series is going to be "It's an amazing place to visit, but pretty overwhelming and hard to plan! Like pretty much all of China..."

I don't even recall how I came across Nanjiang Canyon... I think I was looking up hiking options in the area around Guiyang. You can find it on maps as Nanjiang Gorge Scenic Area 南江大峡谷景区. 

The nearest train station is at Nanjiangxiang - the nearest small town. And it's a TINY train station. And there are no hotels to be found on TripAdvisor,, or anything else... I finally managed to find something on - related to, where we bought all our train tickets... But even that was a leap of faith. The maps were all unintelligible, and I had no idea how we would actually find the hotel. The Nanjian Daxiagu Hotel!

My biggest recommendation: contact the hotel directly - can put you in touch with them via WeChat - and ask if you can hire someone to pick you up from the train station.

When we arrived at the train station, we were the only people who got off the train, there was no bus or information, and there were about 5 or 6 people sitting in the parking lot waiting to offer their driving services. They were all highly entertained by the arrival of three Americans... Through complicated Google-translate-based translation and finally an audio WeChat call with our hotel, we arranged a reasonable price and were driven to the main entrance of the Nanjian Canyon park. This, however, was not our hotel... We wandered around for far too long before finding the ticket office and explaining to someone what the name of our hotel was... turns out we were in completely the wrong area! Our hotel was actually deep inside the park itself! A long walk, tram ride, and more walking... and we finally reached the hotel.

When we left the following day... I just asked the front desk about a ride, and the main desk clerk herself offered to drive us straight from the hotel for just a bit more than the drivers from the train station...


More details to come, but a few highlights:
  • There's this crazy river rafting, but both of my kids were too young for the "passion" rafting (14+). We could have done the "drifting," but it was pretty pricey for what it was. Over 100 Yuan per person.
  • There's nowhere to just swim! Not in the river, and the pool had clearly been drained for a long time.
  • The hotel restaurant isn't delicious, but the little snack shacks near the river rafting exit are a-o-k and cheap: just ramen and hot dogs, basically.
  • The hotel is... weird. It seemed to be about half kids' military-style summer camp and half corporate retreat. We were definitely the only family there... All the families that were rafting must have been staying somewhere else.
    • Hence, the huge obstacle course.
    • Hence, the big evening cultural performance.
    • Hence, the giant military-grade-weapons shooting range. No pictures of that one...
  • The hiking is really incredibly lovely, and the trail is mostly empty... everyone is rafting.
  • At the very end of the hiking path, there's a spot where apparently you can go for boat rides on the small lake up there... but it was closed for some reason. There were two tiny snack shops, and we seemed to be their only customers all day.

If you're looking for more thoughts about traveling through China, you can find more about our trip here.

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