Even the most touristic towns and cities in China continue to be epic and inspirational. I’ve mentioned many times before that China is probably the best country in the world to feel remote and off the beaten path. This is what you dreamed of China to be like before you ventured here, even in popular Yangshuo where a smoggy sky gapes down on a town hidden beneath limestone peaks. Food vendors sell snails, pizza, rice and seaweed in equal portions as you work your way through one of the most touristic towns in China. You pinch yourself time and time again. You’re really here and it’s all too beautiful.
Aerial picture of fields and peaks in Yangshuo, China (photo credit travel.nationalgeographic.com)
Our trip to Yangshuo started from the city of Guilin in the Guangxi Province. Guilin can seem modern and changing, like any big Chinese city and it houses a whopping 4.7 million. I ponder on that factoid in disbelief for a second but we leave the city’s monstrosity behind for another day in the lifestyle. As our bus veers its way down hills and valleys and past UNESCO listed limestone peaks, I sip on a beer and I know life is bloody good.
I couldn’t even tell you where we were going at the time. Time is of no element and we drift through endless unknown villages. My maps are all in Chinese, my girlfriend is by my side and we lap up the beauty of the bus trip before we arrive in sleepy spiritual Yangshuo.
These days, Yangshuo’s popularity as a tourist hub to the non-Chinese is clear for all to see. In fact, most China holidays and tours now offer exquisite jaunts to the Guangxi Province and include Yangshuo on lots of itineraries. The Guangxi “Province” is actually an Autonomous region of China. It’s one of the Provinces I initially dismissed and assumed to be too mainstream for me but I couldn’t be more wrong. The mainstream is actually the river through the town and its breathtaking.
Bamboo Rafting in Yangshuo
We had a bamboo rafting experience on the YuLong River and it remains one of the most recommended activities in the region. While the rivers pass through the town, you’ll need a few buses to get out here to start your trip.
Once you are sailing down the YuLong or the Li River without a care in the world, you will feel the magic.
Views from our bamboo boat trying to find the 20 Yuan note background…
On a few of my China adventures I’ve loved the random cycling experiences through unknown towns and villages. On a wet day after the rafting we decided to cycle back to Yangshuo instead of getting a bus and it was incredible.
It was a very wet day as we made our way from the YuLong River to Yangshuo. The best thing about it is you are in control and can stop and admire the beauty of China all around you.
Night Markets and West Street
Yangshuo is famous for its night scene these days and the West Street is popular at night for markets, restaurants and cafes. It was here on West Street where I tried the pan fried snails.
Moon Hill is so called because of its unusual looking arch like a moon. It takes about 20 minutes to climb up to the arch itself. Some people want to head right to the top, which is a tougher route but obviously better views. The Guilin region Karsts that we visited are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list, of which there are over 1,000 of apparently.
Top photo credit: travel.nationalgeographic.com