Zhènyuǎn (镇远) is the highlight for many visitors to southern China thanks to its unruffled charm, high density of historical sights, gorgeous locale by the Wǔyáng River (Wǔyáng Hé), and relative obscurity in the eyes of international travellers. (In some neighbouring provinces, places half as delightful draw twice the number of visitors.
The largest city in eastern Guìzhōu, Kǎilǐ (凯里) is a bustling industrial centre for the region with little to appeal to travellers. Still, it's a decent base – or at the very least a transit point – for planning your forays into the ever-popular ethnic minority villages in the gorgeous surrounding countryside.
On the historically significant trade route between north Yúnnán and Sìchuān, the small town of Wēiníng (威宁) is now better known as the sight of the wonderful Cǎohǎi Lake, which sits on its western edge and attracts birds and their human followers from across the global (the rare black-necked crane is the signature find).
With its winding, stone-flagged streets and restored city walls, Qīngyán (青岩) makes a pleasant diversion from modern Guìyáng. A former Ming-era military outpost dating back to 1378, Qīngyán was once a traffic hub between the southwest provinces, leaving the village with Taoist temples and Buddhist monasteries rubbing up against Christian churches and menacing watchtowers.