Top Tips for Visiting Yangshuo in China
Where is Yangshuo
Yangshuo County is located in the Guangxi Province of South West China in the administrative region of Guilin. The area is incredibly popular with domestic Chinese tourists but more and more international visitors are now making their way here to experience the incredible other-worldly landscapes and vistas of this dramatic region. Most visitors will enter the region via Guilin, the regional capital of Guangxi. It's just a short bus, train or boat ride to get down the Li River to Yangshuo. Although no longer the quiet oasis it probably once was before it was discovered by mass tourism, Yangshuo is still a lot smaller and a lot quieter than many Chinese cities and large towns and it's really easy to get away from it all and escape into the surrounding countryside.
Locating Yangshuo on the Map
Top Activities in Yangshuo: Climbing Moon Hill
The geologically fascinating Moon Hill is located a few kilometres outside of the main Yangshuo town. It is very easy to get there by hiring either bicycles or motorbikes. It's essentially a flat, straight road out of Yangshuo, along which are a number of interesting sights. When you get to the Moon Hill area you will have to park your bike and pay a small entrance fee to enter the path up to the top.
It's a gentle walk up to the top but take it easy if the weather is hot and make sure you've got some water with you. The last point isn't massively important as local Chinese women will likely try to sell you drinks as soon as you enter the path and then you will see them at various points along the way up Moon Hill as they continue to try and sell to you. It's really quite amusing telling them you have water and hearing them say that you're going to run out so she'll follow you up so you can buy some when you get to the top!
The views from the top of Moon Hill are stunning. From here you can't see the main town of Yangshuo which means you get splendid views of the beautiful and awe-inspiring countryside around you. Make sure you've got your camera with you as there are some truly stunning images to capture. Take you time at the top and then wonder back down and grab your bikes and go for a ride through the fields and tiny villages around the county. You may get lost but this is all part of the adventure! You'll likely see some rock climbers up here as it's a very popular spot for adrenaline seekers.
Exploring the Area Around Yangshuo
Once you get off the main road heading out of town you can follow the tracks in any direction you like. The karst peaks can act as a landmark, so try to identify one that has a distinctive look and use it to ensure that you keep your bearings and can find your way back. Out here you'll see people working in the fields and tending to animals etc. and it can be a really peaceful and enjoyable experience where you can feel a million miles away from the huge population centres of China's busy cities.
If you are feeling adventurous head down to the Li River and go for a ride on a traditional bamboo raft. There aren't many places that offer the traditional bamboo rafts as the ones closest to Yangshuo are all now made of plastic tubing and are not good for the environment. Whatever you do be sure to have packed yourself a picnic and make some time to stop and have a rest alongside the river. This is a good opportunity to watch the Chinese tourists float by on the rafts, and it's likely that they'll be doing their 'thing' of squirting each other with water pistols!
Visiting the 2000-year-old Banyan Tree in Yangshuo
Also along the road between Yangshuo and Moon Hill is the 2000 year old Banyan Tree. It costs 15 Yuan to get into the place but it is a lovely park and the tree is very impressive when you consider how old it is. When you get up close you can see that humans are giving it a helping hand in giving it 'crutches' to stop it's huge meandering branches from collapsing. It's a really cool sight and very popular with domestic tourists. I'm not really sure it lives up to the local billing of '8th wonder of the world' though!
Getting to Xing Ping From Yangshuo
If you have time, it's worth taking the bus from Yangshuo to Xing Ping (or you can cycle) and maybe stay for the night in the 'This Old Place' Hostel. The bus takes around 45 minutes winding it's way through little villages within before finally ending the journey at Xing Ping.
Almost immediately opposite the Xing Ping Hostel is the start of the trail up to the summit of the Bird's View Pavilion, a 220 metre high limestone karst peak that offers views over the Li River and the town of Xing Ping and as far as the eye can see (which, being China isn't so far!). The best time to make the climb to the top is before sunset when the light makes the views even more spectacular. Be careful though as the way up can be especially steep and narrow in places and there is a small amounting of having to hoist yourself up onto rocks involved. It's all worth it though. Be sure not to leave your camera at the bottom! But do remember to check the weather forecast before you set off. It can be very dangerous up there if it's wet.
Take a Good Camera to Capture the Breathtaking Scenery
When you're going all this way you want to make sure that you have a good camera with you to capture the stunning landscapes that you'll come across. You may never come back this way so make sure you have the right equipment to get those lasting images. I have personally always preferred to use Sony cameras. My latest model is the a6000 and I would highly recommend this camera for this trip and for all your photography needs to be quite honest.
Would you like to visit Yangshuo?
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Eating and Drinking in Yangshuo
Back in Yangshuo there are plenty of options for eating and drinking along the established tourist street called West Street located in the heart of the town next to the river. There are many bars, restaurants and cafes here with many western style restaurants, If you want something a bit more traditional then it's best to move away from this street and head over the street that runs out of town towards Moon Hill.
There's an excellent noodle canteen-style restaurant that provides cheap and tasty noodle dishes that are very popular with locals and domestic tourists. The main beer available is TsingTao and costs about 5/6RMB for a 500ml bottle.
Remember: Obey the Rules!
If you've ever travelled in China you'll probably have noticed that they're a bit keen on stating the rules. Only, the translation is not always quite as it should be!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Matt Doran