The Li River, in my opinion, is the absolute best landscape in China. The Li River winds through the mountains in the Yangshuo valley, surrounded by small villages and lots of hidden corners to explore. I'd suggest sailing down the river on one of the traditional bamboo boats, especially if you can do it at sundown.
Driving through the back country roads at night from Guilin airport to Yangshou I could not see them.
Rising with a rooster's crow and stumbling from my room in a traditional yet restored farmhouse – now the lovely Outside Inn – I see they loom everywhere. My eyes adjust slowly to a panorama they’ve never before seen. Some resemble thick bull horns, others some kind of granite vegetable. They rise conspicuously from the ground and dot the topography of lush rice fields and slow moving rivers. Formed over millions of years ago by the earth’s crustal movements, the Karst peaks are composed of limestone sediments. Each one’s unique body a result of endless erosion and whipping winds – nature always proves to be the best artisan.
I stay in the farming community of Cho-Long a mere 4 kilmometres from the more well-known Yangshou - that famed ‘town’ sitting on the Li River. Yangshou is no longer a town: tourism and industrialization have transformed the sleepy hamlet into a thriving and bustling city. Although the city itself is pleasant to stroll through and many other excursions require a visit, Cho-Long breathes and breeds more tranquility.
One gets the impression that Cho-Long mirrors what Yangshou was: a farming community in one of the prettiest corners of the world. The narrower and quieter Yulong river – compared to the bustling Li River and its ferry boats - flows past Cho-Long through pancake-flat rice fields to even more serene and time-less villages. Concrete paths dissect the farmlands, ideally suited for bicycles or intrepid legs (bicycles may be borrowed from the Outside Inn). An idyllic swimming hole rests not 10 minutes from the Outside Inn where you can bathe and gaze adoringly at each soaring, oddly-shaped peak. In Chinese, ‘Yulong’ means ‘meeting a dragon’ and it is not difficult to imagine a row of karst peaks resembling the back or torso or head of such a mythical creature. Along the river, entrepreneurial locals try to convince you to take a ride on rafts made from striking bamboo pieces – a reminder of tourism’s growing impact.
For my money, simply meandering along the river, past farmhouses and rice fields and over ancient bridges is the best way to enjoy this slice of Guangxi province.
One of the best parts of my trip to China was Yangshuo. We were tired of the bustle of the cities and decided to rent some bikes and visit the outskirts of Yangshuo. We got a map of the area and did a few routes from the countryside and some of the small towns. It's a highly, highly recommended experience.
One of the best experiences of our trip to China was in Yangshuo. Tired of the chaos of the cities we decided to rent a bike and discover the surroundings of Yangshuo. We were looking for a map of the area and took a tour of many villages and fields. The experience was fascinating.
This small stretch of street is off of Yangshuo to the north and along the river just left of the bank. Every day they mount a small antique market and the many things that are sold in China that catch your eye but if you think about it have no use. By having direct access to the river, you can find herds of Chinese who disembark to shop around the area. Tourists aren´t usually here. Call it a flea market. The winding road, roof and columns in yellow, are well worth a little visit with bicycle.
In Yangshuo you must visit West Street . It is easy to find as it is in the heart of town. It is full of restaurants and stores of all kinds. It is a busy zone. If you want to visit Yangshuo you can find many bike rental places at a reasonable price. Before, check that your brakes work.
When we visited Yangshuo we did a cycling tour of the surroundings. If you are in the area you must visit the Moon Hill. It is named after the crescent cave at the top of this mountain. To reach the summit you have to climb about 800 steps. The effort is worth it because you can see a panoramic view of the whole area.
While not as amazing as the rice terraces that exist in the region, it is a good choice for those ve are traveling to the area around the time of year when the crop is harvested and there is nothing planted . A few kilometers from Yangshuo, the tour included the taxi ride which does not last longer than 4 hours. Of course the view from the plantation, with mountains in the background, is spectacular and beautiful. The visit comes with a ceremony with tea.
This traditional Chinese town preserve their customs. One of these customs involves a particular fishing technique, which involves the help of a cormorant (a medium sized waterfowl). The fisherman moves on a bamboo raft, shining a powerful spotlight into the water, and throws the cormorant into the sea. It then catches the fish with its beak. Of course, out of the water, the bird can not eat its prey because the fisherman has tied a knot at the neck of the bird that prevents it from swallowing. Following completion of its work, the owner releases the rope from its neck, allowing the cormorant to continue fishing what it needs to feed. This is one of the most curious and strange activities that you can do in the area of Yangshuo, and for me the most impressive.
If anything has become famous in Yangshuo, it is the wonderful scenery that surrounds it. In order to admire the scenery, avoiding the tourist lookouts, I recommend you get close to the peak where the TV antenna is. To get there you have to wander round the back of the farmer's market, on Pantao Road, opposite the bus station. If you stay in the How Flowers Hostel you just have to ask at reception, as the road begins thereabouts. The climb is steep, and if you are slow like me it takes almost an hour. But it's worth it: the views are wonderful, fairy tale! By the way, although it is free, there is a guard in the cab of the antenna, be sure to give him a small tip. I gave him 5 yuan and he was more than happy. The truth is that for me just by being up there deserved it. It is very friendly, he may offer to take photos of you, give you some water or if you arrive lunchtime, maybe even invite you to eat.
More or less in the heart of the city, at the top, is what can be called the town park. It is where Yangshuo residents gather for morning gymnastics, play board games, do local events, or just talk. So, who wants to see a little of the life of these people, you can not miss a visit to this park.
One the most recommended activities to do in the area. Although it is very touristy and the river can seem "small", if you travel in off season, there are only a few boats including yours. Then the journey becomes a pleasant trip in stunning silence on very calm waters watching the spectacular scenery offered by the mountains of Yangshuo. The name "rafting" is because occasionally there is a small gap in the river, where you go through on boat, but that is arranged slightly by raising the legs and you only get a little wet. The journey isn't at all dangerous. Special mention for the "boats" which are about five or six bamboo sticks, rather fat, tied together, and a couple of metal chairs on top. A Chinese invention.
On the way to Moon Hill you will find this attraction that focuses on an ancient tree that we are told is more than 1000 years old (planted in the Jin Dynasty). For a few yuan you can enjoy a walk through a garden and a the cities waterfall is beautiful. Not very spectacular but worth a short visit.
The cruise that we hires along the Li River dropped us off at the town of Xingping. From here, a minibus took us to the bus station of the town where we had to wait for the bus that was to take us to Yangshuo. The station is still just a single room, a little shabby in the center of this town.
If you spend a few days in the city of Yangshuo, you'll quickly realize, despite the town not being very big, why the best way to get around is by bike. The distances are not far, but you can get lost easier by foot. It's also a very common and cheap transport (any hotel or shop will rent you a bike for a couple of euros for all day), making it ideal. While there are a few downsides, it's totally recommended and very, very funny. There are cars, bikes, wagons, rickshaws, motorcycles and kids, as well as the chaotic car horns, which exists in all of China. This can be compared with any evidence on a game show.