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Ah, Yangshuo – it’s the scene that features on the 20 yuan bill, so it’s obviously a pretty good one. Lying at the confluence of the Li and Yulong Rivers, it’s around here that you’ll find the epitome of China’s pastoral beauty in the form of dramatic karst landscapes. And we don’t make this stuff up, there’s even a saying about it: “Guilin has the best scenery under the heaven, but Yangshuo is even more beautiful”.
However, what was once a sleepy settlement is now one that has very much cashed in on its prime location. And not in a good way. The town itself may have become trashed by tourism – that new neon look doesn’t exactly suit it – but the hippy haven that it once was can still be located outside of its inner confines. Head beyond the town and you’ll find some of the best examples of China’s unspoiled scenery. River sojourns will reveal cormorant fishermen going about their daily business (although sadly, even this has become a tourist attraction nowadays), whilst taking to two wheels is the best way to escape the modernisation of the town and get lost in the fairytale landscapes.
In fact, as a tacky backpacker central you may want to avoid the town’s inner throng altogether – although it is worth a rather bewildering wander to say that you’ve been there, done that. Just maybe not the rather questionable “dancing” clubs and all.
But, as both the home of zen and the home of adrenaline, Yangshuo still can be a destination that suits just about everyone.
Despite its modern day drawbacks, one thing’s for sure, you won’t be short on things to do in Yangshuo. There is an upside to somewhere becoming tourist central.
And if the bars and restaurants abound – even rooftop ones – aren’t doing it for you, then not to worry, there’s plenty more on offer here. You may just have to look for it. After all, Yangshuo is the home of iconic hills, well-loved thrills and – perhaps most importantly – some well needed chills.
First off there’s the obvious river cruising, bamboo raft drifting and river bank wandering. But it’s not all about the river scenes in this karst heavy region. Bike riding will take you through rice fields lush with rich vegetation whilst rock climbing, zip-lining and abseiling will get you up close and personal with the landscapes in a whole new way. So, whether looking to go laid-back or get that adrenaline pumping, Yangshuo has got you covered.
Southern China – just a Li River cruise away from the scenic city of Guilin.
All day and certainly all night as far as the town’s bars are concerned.
The best things in life are free and the pastoral scenery in this region is one of them.
During summer, Yangshuo can get very hot and humid, so make sure to pack layers that are easy to peel off, sun cream and a hat.
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