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Extending for 350km between Guiyang and the border with Yunnan province, Western Guizhou is a desperately poor region of beautiful mountainous country and depressingly functional mining towns. Anshun is a transit hub for visiting Bouyei villages, the tourist magnets of Longgong Caves and Huangguoshu Falls and the remoter, more spectacular Zhijin Caves. All routes west from Anshun ultimately lead to Yunnan’s capital, Kunming, whether you travel by bus along one of the three highways or – more comfortably – take the train. The only place worth a special stopover along the way is the northwesterly wildfowl sanctuary of Caohai – being poled around this shallow lake on a sunny day is one of Guizhou’s highlights.

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