The capital of southwestern Guizhou province, Guiyang is starting to see more tourism traffic. The low-key, attractive city is the gateway to Guizhou (pronounced Gway-jo) province. The city's communal heartbeat, Renmin Square, is dominated by one of China's few remaining city-center statues of Chairman Mao.

One of China's poorest provinces, Guizhou is also one of its more beautiful. It is often called the "Swizerland of China" because of the pine-forested alpine peaks, spectacular river valleys, lakes and waterfalls. Less visited than neighboring Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, Guizhou is an up-and-coming destination for adventurous travelers.

Traveling in Guizhou province isn't easy. The infrastructure is basic, and a guide and a good Chinese phrasebook are advised. But the remote highland landscapes and sense of exploring untapped China offer a truly rewarding experience.

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