Despite the fact, that Yangshuo is on a go-to list for many travelers visiting China, I kept postponing my trip. What a mistake! Now, I know that Yangshuo area has so much to offer. Especially if you’re like me and like staying active. But don’t worry, it’s also perfect if you just want to lay back and take in the surroundings or indulge with good food.
Things to do and see
What makes Yangshuo one of the most visited areas in China is its beautiful natural scenery. Yangshuo area is peppered with limestone hills, that are covered with abundant greenery.
I found it so different from other landscapes, and so picturesque. Just walking around is enough to be amazed, but of course there are some famous spots, not to be missed.
The 20 RMB View
I have seen a 20 RMB bill many times, but in Yangshuo I got to see the full picture. I rented a bike, prepared plenty of water and didn’t stop till I got to a viewing point in XingPing village. Seeing Li River meandering between countless hills, was something unforgettable. The bill is only 20 RMB (3USD), but the view to me was priceless.
One of the top sights in the Yangshuo area is the Moon Gate. It’s a naturally formed opening in the shape of a half-moon. After paying a small entrance fee I hiked through a bamboo forest up to the opening itself. Despite hazy weather, views from the top were pretty striking.
The Fuli Bridge
I discovered the Fuli Bridge thanks to my guide – a local gentleman and an old solider Mr. Maomao. We took an ancient tract, well-hidden between fields and meadows and got there by bike. The bridge boasts more than 500 hundred years of history and is in a great condition. To me, it was
a gem away from the beaten path.
Xi Jie – The West Street
I didn’t want to leave Yangshuo without seeing Xijie, but I didn’t want to stay there too long either. A quick stroll along this walking street confirmed that it’s not a place for me. I much prefer the countryside. But if you’re craving coffee, pizza or want to see a light show, it’s a place to be.
There are two main rivers (and countless streams), in the Yangshuo area – Li River and Yulong River. Rafting can be done on both of them. Most bamboo rafts are operated by one company, but I got lucky and went bamboo rafting with a local guide when there was no one else there. It was a great way for me to relax and observe everyday life along the river. Farmers working in the fields, ducklings learning to swim, everything was so serene. However you choose to do the bamboo rafting, the experience is iconic for Yangshuo and worth a try.
If you’re feeling adventurous there are plenty of great climbing spots in the Yangshuo area.
I wanted to try rock climbing myself, unfortunately it didn’t work out this time – meaning I have to go back. But, I saw one cliff with prizes hanging on different heights. The higher you climb, the better prize you get. That would be so fun to try!
What to eat
I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but if I was, I would love to stay in Yangshuo even longer. Locally grown veggies are a base for many dishes. My favorite was pumpkin flowers stuffed with meat and rice, I can really recommend this dish. That was my personal winner, but the most famous things to try in Yangshuo are:
Mimicking the locals, I ate Guilin mifen for breakfast. Mifen is simply rice noodles. It’s served with meat (sometimes horse meat!), boiled egg and on top of that you can add different condiments and pickles. I went for suanddoujiao – spicy pickled beans, it has this tangy mix of spiciness and sourness that I really like.
At some point, I counted 6 shops selling beer fish in a row. I simply had no choice and had to try it. Not that I mind! Beer fish turned out to be delicious, yet had no beer flavor. I tried the dish in a few different restaurants and every time it was slightly different.
There are so many other places that I still want to discover, but I would go back to Yangshuo without hesitation. I especially liked observing the countryside, natural landscapes and trying local specialties. And I have to try that rock climbing after all…