GUIYANG lies in a valley basin, encircled by a range of hills that hems in the city and concentrates its traffic pollution. Established as a capital during the Ming dynasty, modern Guiyang is a patchwork of elderly apartment blocks rubbing shoulders with glossy new high-rises and department stores, all intercut by a web of wide roads and flyovers. The effect may be downmarket and provincial, but Guiyang is a friendly place, whose unexpected few antique buildings and a surprisingly wild park lend a bit of character. With a spare half day, it’s worth making an easy side-trip to the old garrison town of Qingyan, whose cobbled lanes and merchants’ guildhalls provide a relief from Guiyang’s crowded streets.

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