Sānjiāng is a convenient springboard to the ethereal Dòng villages and their architectural wonders in Chéngyángqiáo Scenic Area (程阳桥景区; Chéngyángqiáo Jĭngqū), which has a ¥60 admission fee.
The best way to take in the area's natural and manmade beauty is by walking among the fields. Each hamlet has a distinctive-looking drum tower and a stage on which tables are set up for mah-jong games. The homes are simple one- or two-storey cabins made of chocolate-toned cedar bark that exude an ancient grace evocative of Kyoto. The Dòng are known for their exquisite carpentry and you can certainly see why.
The late afternoon sun and the yellow light bulbs that come on at dusk lend the villages a mesmerising mood – these are the best times to visit. At night electricity outages are not uncommon, so bring a torch with you.
There are plenty of simple eateries here, serving breakfast for ¥5 and dishes for ¥15 to ¥80.