Surrounded by surreal karst formations and nestled deep in the Chinese countryside, Yangshuo is somewhere that wouldn’t feel out of place in a traditional Chinese painting. In fact, the place has undoubtedly inspired hundreds of artists and countless paintings. More than its picturesque landscapes, however, Yangshuo offers adventure to those looking to find a different side of China.
What To Know
Yangshuo is the type of place that isn’t easy to get to, but is well worth the journey. The easiest route you can take is to fly or ride into Guilin, and from here take either a river cruise or a bus. Either option will take you through beautiful landscapes for a few hours. As a South China town, Yangshuo can feature weather that is hot and humid, though the nights are generally quite cool. Keep drinking water on you at all times and remember to keep hydrated.
While hotels in the center of town are easy to find, hostels on the edge of town are both cheaper and have more to offer visually, so they’re worth your consideration. English is easy to find in this backpacker’s town, and tour guides can be hired for just about any adventure you’re looking to have. Book at at agency, or negotiate with the guides offering their services in the street at your discretion. International cuisine is available, though not always accurate, and it’s worth diving into some of the local dishes instead as they are usually both fresh and tasty.
Choose Your Own Adventure
While the town is always bustling with activity, the pace of your adventure is completely up to you. Extreme sports such as rock climbing, rafting, and spelunking are all available to you – sometimes in the same day! – and are reasonably priced to boot. Be sure to pace yourself when it comes to such activities, and be aware that some require boarding a bus for a few hours in order to reach them. All this really means, however, is more time to enjoy the beautiful Guilin countryside.
Those looking to have a more relaxing time can enjoy walking and cycling tours through the region. Such tours lead to several lookout points that are well worth your time, as well as the unique Stone Village that has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years. Closer to town, landmarks such as Moon Hill and the thousand-year old Big Banyan Tree can and should be visited on your own time. These activities can be mixed and matched at your leisure, and there are no wrong answers. However if you are looking for something different, from Yangshuo you can easily go further west, and take a trip along the Tea-Horse Road in Yunnan Province.
Like any good backpacker’s town, Yangshuo has its fair share of watering holes, many offering their own charms. There are several rooftop bars that are worth it for the views alone, and hostels often feature their own bars that are sure to attract an eclectic crowd. If you’re looking to end the night on a high note, consider attending the Liu San Jie Impression Light Show, an impressive combination of technology, folk dance, and natural splendor. English interpreters and drivers are available.
Header photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash