Yangshuo is one of the best-kept secrets in China tourism. It’s
a relatively quiet city of about 300,000 people, comprised of
microcosms of high-pitched bargaining, touring in quiet solitude
and peaceful riverland farms under the brooding countenance of
weathered karst peaks.
The scenery alone is worth the trip, but convince your clients
to do more. Much more.
Dragon Head Hill and other limestone karsts and promontories
create unparalleled beauty that is unmatched anywhere else in the
world. Observing these natural panoramas from the vibrant bustle of
a Yangshuo walking street is like being able to eat all the
delicacies in a French confectionery shop and never gain
For $5-$10, your clients can arrange with hotels to have local
residents raft them into the heart of this river country, away from
the big tour boats. These are off-the-beaten-path tours where
they’ll interact with the locals and experience the natural power
of this area, far removed from the daily buzz of tourism. I don’t
recommend such tours during heavy rains, when floodwaters are brown
and dangerous. If the water is clear, it’s safe.
For clients who crave urban action, West Street pleases with its
many cafes, hotels, art and craft shops, shopping and Internet
cafes. English is more widely spoken here than elsewhere in China,
making it easy to bargain. Expect artwork of all types, and Chinese
minority handicrafts from painted bamboo to rocks, fans and oils
and watercolors on scrolls. My advice is to buy here, as many of
these regional specialty items won’t be found elsewhere. Here’s an
inside tip: Bargain hard. Really hard. Prices here are overly
inflated due to the city’s meteoric growth since the mid-1980s.
Take a peak into one of the Kung Fu Academies, and be prepared
to be amazed with feats of human endurance. During the day, sample
a variety of foods from street vendors and splurge on one big meal
a day at a restaurant that specializes in either local or
international cuisine. I like the Beer Fish and other local fish
dishes at Yangshuo Ren Restaurant.
Mr. Li with Jin Jiang Travel in Guilin suggests that for those
with more time, a three- to five-day tour is a good introduction to
Yangshuo. A day for shopping, two days to take in the myriad
sights, another day to take in the area via bike or coach and a day
to explore the countryside on the return to Guilin. One of the best
ways to accomplish this is send your clients on a day-long Li River
cruise, which starts in Guilin and ends in Yangshuo. They disembark
and can easily begin touring on their own or walk to a hotel from
the river dock. Tours include a return trip by bus or van to
Guilin, or clients can forego the cruise and take the hour bus ride
After my riverboat tour up the Li River, I spent a morning
watching the scenery while I reclined on a bamboo barge that a
local resident single-handedly poled down the Yulong River. I
enjoyed watching water buffalo, cormorants fishing, fish rising in
the clear waters and farmers at work, all against a backdrop of
stunning karst formations, bamboo groves and rice terraces.
A taxi or leisurely bike ride to Moon Hill will reward clients
with a scenic and cultural view most tourists never see. For a few
dollars, local guides stationed in town and at the base of the hill
are always ready to show the trail and a 40-minute climb to some of
the best scenery in the area. Of course, prompt your clients to
spend a few dollars and consider having lunch and staying overnight
at the guide’s home. Most of the guides are farmers and live in
small huts that surround the base of Moon Hill. I recommend
experiencing the day in the life of a Chinese farmer, who makes
about $140 a year. The floor beds are comfortable, warm; the food
and conversation good and entertaining. It’s a night out that oozes
Yangshuo country is centered around geology and hydrology. Rock
climbing is popular with younger tourists, with over 200 bolted
routes up the numerous limestone karsts, with ample local guides
Sunny and clear weather demands a day hike along the river or
along the various ridges. Mountain biking is the best way to go.
Within minutes of town center, your clients will be riding flat
trails winding through rice fields and along the base of the
mountain karsts. Bike Asia offers rentals, both guided and
do-it-yourself tours, and is the source of contact for anything
bike-related. A five-day tour package runs $375 per person, or $250
each for two. The tour includes roundtrip transportation to and
from Guilin, meals, overnight accommodations with local villagers,
a cooking class and cycling various trails that overlook rice
fields and the area’s scenic rivers.
Tourists enjoy hands-on traditional Chinese cooking at the
Yangshuo Cooking School. Located in a quaint, but functional
Chinese farmhouse, the school offers two courses of study on two
consecutive days. The course includes a shopping trip into town to
purchase Chinese vegetables, meats, and cooking items. A half-day
class runs about $15.
As agents, learning all you can about Yangshuo is a good idea.
It’s a little hard to find, but worth it.
China Travel Service
Yangshuo Cooking School