We present a simple descriptive study of maternal health care utilization among ethnic minority women in a remote region of China. Factors that affect women obtaining care and their decision-making are explored. Results show that utilization of maternal health care services is associated with a range of social, economic, cultural and geographic factors as well as the policies of the state and the delivery of services. Utilization is not necessarily increased through easy access to a health facility. We identify potential for improving utilization through developing the role of village-based health care workers, expanding mobile antenatal care clinics and changing the way township hospital services are provided and funded. This would include modifications to rural health insurance schemes. Several of these changes are achievable at the township or county level. The findings of this study provide insights that can be used by local health providers, planners and decision-makers to improve the provision of maternal health care services to ethnic minority women.