Situated in the midst of some of China’s most stunning scenery and positioned between two sublime rivers, Yangshuo boasts a truly idyllic locale. Around the town, the green, karst hills take on fanciful forms and appear to undulate endlessly into the distance. Between the hills and along the riverbanks are paddy fields and small villages where a simple, rural existence continues largely untouched by the influx of tourists to the region. Yangshuo is the most accessible place for tourists to experience rural China, while being dazzled by the ethereal topography for which the region is renowned.
As the scenery of the Guilin region grew in fame, it was Yangshuo that hit the jackpot as the village that became the region’s tourist Mecca. The town provides a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. There are established hiking and cycling circuits to be done from the town, but equally as enjoyable is simply setting off into the countryside with no real destination in mind. Whichever way you go, the scenery is equally mesmerizing.
Increasingly, Yangshuo is also developing as a popular destination for active tourism. It is the main center for rock climbing in China, while activities such as caving, kayaking and mountain-biking are becoming more and more popular. A number of schools offering lessons in areas such as cooking, martial arts and Chinese language have also sprung up in the town.
Yangshuo itself is purely a tourist town. It can’t lay any real claim to a great historical heritage in contrast to other popular small towns like Lijiang and Dali. Around the main tourist district a modern town has sprouted to support this principal local industry. But the tourist area itself is not a bad place. If nothing else it is exceptionally convenient, with everything you could need concentrated on one street. And there are a plethora of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops to choose from. Most importantly, the real attraction of Yangshuo is always present. The striking limestone hills rise above it all, providing a serene backdrop as you enjoy a western breakfast by morning or a micro-brewed beer at sunset.
Who should travel to Yangshuo?
Yangshuo/Guilin is probably the most common addition to the classic itinerary of Beijing, Shanghai and Xian. And such an itinerary creates a great balance of the old, the new and the natural. The area around Yangshuo also provides a glimpse of rural China. For most independent travelers Yangshuo will be the focus of a visit to the Guilin region. However, some tour agencies still make the mistake of basing their clients in the city of Guilin.
How long is needed to see Yangshuo?
You could easily while away a lifetime in the tranquil surrounds of Yangshuo. But two days is enough to give you a taste. Allow as long as possible if you’re not on a tight schedule – you won’t get sick of it.