Nestled in the southwest of China’s Guangxi Province is one of the world’s most astonishing landscapes. Following the course of the Li River, towering hills and mountains of unfathomable shapes and sizes stretch as far as the eye can see, covered in luscious greens and rocky yellows. Water buffalo swim in the waters, or tread through rice fields, led by Chinese farmers in cone-shaped hats which protect from Guangxi’s rainy and sunny climate. Tropical bird calls echo through this region, butterflies of every size and colour flit through sun-speckled paths and woodland walks. Neither painting nor photograph can do this scenery justice; the only solution is to see this phenomenal landscape with your own eyes.
The majority of travellers coming to this region with China Holidays will usually start in the picturesque city of Guilin. Situated on the banks of the Li River, this is where Guangxi’s unusual scenery begins. Guilin has great riverside walks, a bustling shopping centre and a fascinating public square featuring a huge map of the world. Stroll around the beautiful Shanhu Lake, marked by its striking Sun and Moon Pagodas, or climb the steps to the peak of Fubo Hill for fantastic views of Guilin and beyond.
From Guilin to Yangshuo the only way to travel is by boat. Take a days’ cruise on the Li River to the town at the heart of this karst mountain region. Your boat will weave you around the bends and meanders of the Li River, past water buffalo soaking in the midday sun. Small villages that seem unchanged from decades past glide by on your journey, as you envy their inhabitants for living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The mountains get higher and the river wider as you move closer to Yangshuo, before finally docking at one of China’s quaintest towns.
Yangshuo is a great tourist centre not just for local attractions (of which there are many), but also for shopping and eating. West Street is the main avenue of the town, popular with Chinese and Western tourists alike for market stalls by day, and a great bar and club scene by night. For something a little quieter in the evenings, the alleys branching off West Street lead to peaceful cafes, restaurants and tea houses. Yangshuo is best seen by day, but is equally beautiful at night. You can see the full moon reflected in the Li River, with an orchestra of frogs in the background, and never forget what you saw. A great evening activity is to see Zhang Yimou’s Impression Liu Sanjie. Zhang (director of award-winning Hero) conducted this spectacular son et lumiere show, with the lit-up backdrop of the Li River and mountains providing one of nature’s most epic theatres.
Yangshuo is a great place to either relax and unwind, or find some activities and sports for the more adventurous. Climb Moon Hill for stunning views, under a natural arch formed in the middle of a mountain. There are wonderful limestone caves to visit with spectacular rock formations, and all are within a stone’s throw from Yangshuo’s centre. Other day tours to consider are nearby Xingping Town, an ancient town 40 minutes from Yangshuo which is famous for hosting the beautiful picture on the back of the 20 yuan note. If you are considering a long-term stay in Yangshuo, there are cookery courses available through China Holidays. There are also several Chinese language schools dotted throughout the town, which welcome beginners on short-term intensive courses or even longer courses.
If you are interested in outdoor activities, Yangshuo is one of the best destinations in China. During my time in Yangshuo the best way to experience the area was by hiring a bicycle. There are various routes through old rural villages that still have Maoist slogans on the walls, cowsheds and chickens scurrying across your path. Cycle to the beautiful Yulong River and take a punt down the river on a bamboo raft. This stretch of scenery is a lot more peaceful than on the Li River, but the scenery is just as spectacular. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous ask locals in the town of Yangshuo about the “secret beach”. You can only get here by bike and it is well worth the ride. There is also the opportunity to go rock climbing up some of the immense karst peaks, a truly exhilarating experience for both experienced and new climbers. One of the highlights of Guangxi though has to be the Longjing White Water Rafting. Take a bus from Yangshuo to a mountainous area near Xingping, with the bus taking you to the top of the mountain. Don your crash helmet and life jacket for a thrilling ride down the mountain in a two-man raft. The ride takes around 2 hours and is set in some really breathtaking scenery. This sounds like a thrill-seeker’s activity, but anyone and everyone is encouraged to take part in this novel way of experiencing Yangshuo.
China Holidays has several tours which take in Guilin and Yangshuo. Please check our website for further details on this destination which is definitely a China highlight. Alternativly please call u son 020 74872999.