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Travel to Yangshuo China in Guangxi Province

Updated on January 25, 2013
This is West St. in Yangshuo China. This is a slow day during the off peak season. During summer the street is much more crowded.
This is West St. in Yangshuo China. This is a slow day during the off peak season. During summer the street is much more crowded. | Source

About Yangshuo China

Yangshuo is a small town located on the Li River in Guangxi province that is nestled between the karst mountains that have made the area famous. Yangshuo became a popular travel destination for backpackers because of it's small size, quaintness and the access that it offers to minority villages and culture. This popularity has somewhat diminished the very things that made it popular to begin with. The town has grown slightly and has become a little commercialized by the locals who have responded to the rise in tourist visiting their town. Some of the quaintness still resides in Yangshuo. Though the town may have changed since backpackers first discovered it Yangshuo is still seen as a get-away destination and mountain retreat. For any westerner who has spent time living in the large sprawling cities of China, Yangshuo offers a break from the noise and overpopulation of Chinese city life.

Moon Hill in Yangshuo China
Moon Hill in Yangshuo China | Source
A muddy path somewhere outside of Yangshuo with karst mountains surrounding.
A muddy path somewhere outside of Yangshuo with karst mountains surrounding. | Source

Outdoor Activities

For the outdoor adventurous Yanshuo is a playground with endless possibilities. There are several places where bicycles can be rented for the day. You can spend the day riding through the countryside. Many tourist to the area enjoy hiking up the myriad mountain trails. If you are interested in mountain climbing there are several companies in Yangshuo that offer guide services as well as climbing classes.

Shopping

The main street of Yangshuo is West Street. This is also the most commercialized area of Yangshuo. If you enjoy shopping West Street during the daytime offers hours of enjoyment shopping and haggling with the locals. Haggling is still widely excepted in China. The shop keepers in Yangshuo have become accustomed to westerners who don't haggle but if you ask for a better price or make a lower offer they will often accept. Also if you buy more than one thing from the same store they will often offer you a discount on one of the items.

Bars and Nightclubs

At night the stores on West St. close and are replaced by the bars that open. In the area around West St. there are several bars and clubs that people often flock to for a drink or a night dancing. The nightclubs will have more people in them during the peak season of summer. Many of them will still be open during the off season but there will not be as many people in them.

You can float down the Li River one a raft like this from Guilin to Yangshuo China. This raft has an outboard motor and is made of PVC pipes. There are still many around that are made of bamboo and don't have a motor.
You can float down the Li River one a raft like this from Guilin to Yangshuo China. This raft has an outboard motor and is made of PVC pipes. There are still many around that are made of bamboo and don't have a motor. | Source

How to Get There

There are two main ways to travel into Yangshuo. You can travel to Yangshuo by bus from Guilin. This is the fastest way to get there but not the best. The most enjoyable way to travel to Yangshuo is by the Li River cruise from Guilin. Again you have two options. You can take a raft down the river or you can cruise down the river on a boat. Both methods have their merits. If you are staying at a hostel in Guilin they can help you with the travel arraignments.

The raft is a more intimate way to travel. Some of these rafts are made of bamboo. Some of the newer rafts are made of large PVC pipes. You are closer to the water and you get to see up close the way many of the locals make their living by cormorant fishing on the river. The down side to this is that the guides will not speak English nor should you expect them to know the Mandarin dialect of Chinese.

The boat cruise will have a Chinese guide who speaks English. She'll be able to tell you about the different scenic spots during the cruise. The boat is mostly inclosed with a couple of outside decks. During the winter months this allows travelers to stay out of the cold whereas with the raft you'll have no escape from the cold. The cruise boat will also serve a free buffet lunch. The boat is more expensive than the raft but depending on the time of year you travel and what you want from the expereince it might be the better choice.

While staying in Yangshuo I met a man who traveled there by bicycling. If you're desperate for adventure, well versed in the Chinese language and capable with a map and a good sense of direction you might be interested in traveling this way. For most people though, I'd recommend the Li River cruise.

Where You Should Stay in Yangshuo China

Yangshuo is littered with dozens of hostels. Pick up a stone and throw it in any direction and there is a good chance you'll either hit a hostel or a cormorant bird. You should have no trouble finding a hostel to stay in. Most of them are priced about the same. You should talk to more than one hostel and have a look at the rooms before deciding on where to stay.

If you are looking for a true get-away experience Tripper's Carpe Diem is the best place to stay in Yangshuo. Tripper is a tall, friendly Belgian man. His wife Jenny is Chinese. Trippers is about ten to twenty minutes outside of the town. It is surrounded by nothing but the great outdoors. They provide a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere that is unmatched in Yangshuo. You'll likely not want to leave. Trippers also provides ready access to many activities including renting a bicycle, cormorant fishing, and Chinese cooking classes.

Food

Most of the food you'll find in Yangshuo is actually going to be western fare. The town is largely geared toward pleasing western travelers and the restaurants reflect this. You can find some Chinese dishes restaurants and every restaurant will have Chinese dishes on their menus but it will often be cooked in a way that they believe that westerners will enjoy it. If you have lived in China for a while this may be a pleasant break for you.

When You Should Go

The peak season for Yangshuo is during the spring and summer months. However people do travel there all year-round. If you go during the summer expect the area to be fairly crowded. You may want to plan ahead booking hotel or hostel rooms. If you go during the winter or early spring this wont be a problem. The weather is a little cooler during this time.

Other Advice

Don't take pictures of the cormorant fishers unless you are willing to give them 5 RMB. This is a small price and if you want a picture of them or with them it is worth it. However know that they will expect you to pay them something. Many of these men no longer actually fish with their birds but make a living by taking photos with tourist or by taking tourist fishing with them.

Though I haven't actually seen this I've been told that some of the older locals may follow people if they believe that they want to buy something from them. If you see an older person selling something in one of the nearby villages and talk to him for any reason he will believe that you want to buy something. The guide on the riverboat cruise said that they'll follow people for miles.This kind of thing doesn't happen on West St. or in the town of Yangshuo itself. In the minority villages though it might be best to avoid speaking to shop keepers unless you are interested in buying something from them.

Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2012. Wesley Meacham- This article is copyright protected and is the property of Wesley Meacham. All images in this article, unless otherwise stated, are the property of Wesley Meacham. Please do not copy this article in whole or in part without giving credit to the original author.

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    • sadieanne profile image

      sadieanne 5 years ago from China

      This is such a great introduction to Yangshuo- i'll have to do my own review on the places I've been in China too!

      To anyone else reading- go and visit, it's a great place!

    • Wesley Meacham profile image
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      Wesley Meacham 5 years ago from Wuhan, China

      Thank you. It is a great place. You should write about the places you've been to. I would enjoy reading them also.

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