The very first place Dave and I traveled together once we moved to China was Guilin. We visited a beautiful cave, took a Cruise down the Li River and climbed up to the top of the Longji Rice terraces. It was an epic 4 days and I often think back to them fondly. There was one place in the area though, that we didn’t get to see properly: Yangshuo.
We loved the area on our last trip, but we were disappointed that we only got to spend a few hours in Yangshuo. This summer, with so much time to travel, we decided to fix that and spend a few nights there! Here’s how we spent our time….
Seeing The Countryside
A lot of our time was spent cruising around on our ebikes, checking out the sights and stopping whenever we saw something interesting. I think that is my favourite way to see a new place, but it’s not something we can easily do in China, where international drivers’ licenses aren’t recognized. Luckily, in Yangshuo, you can rent ebikes anyway.
There are several old bridges and ancient towns where you can stop in. Fuli Ancient Town was one of our stops. They are famous there for making hand painted fans. In the heat of the day, it seemed like most of the shops were closed, but a few were open for business and it looked like they offer painting classes as well.
Another benefit of driving around on your own is that you can stop and enjoy the scenery whenever you want, and you can stop and eat at little roadside restaurants. We enjoyed some bamboo rice, beerfish (both local specialties) and a sunset on our last night.
With plenty of small roads to explore, you can easily spend a day driving around, stopping for a swim or a plate of watermelon if you get too hot or hungry. The roads aren’t too crazy. Just be sure to be vigilant, and to not drive too aggressively, and you should be fine. Of course, Yangshuo City is a little crazier of a place to be driving.
We didn’t spend a lot of time in Yangshuo itself. Something tells me that a few years ago, it would have been a quaint place to visit, but nowadays, it feels a bit like a party town. You can find KFC, McDonald’s, Starbucks and all the usual western chains in the city, and there are plenty of places to stop for food too.
During the day, you get a lot of people shopping for souvenirs, at the end of their Li River Cruises. Down by the water, you can see the men who fish with birds, and even take a dip in the river (it moves pretty quickly though, so you’ll want to be careful).
Night life in Yangshuo involves loud music, dancers, club antics and people trying to pull you into their bars or stores. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun for people in their early 20s, but we weren’t feeling much like parting, so we didn’t spend a lot of time in Yangshuo.
Ruyifeng Cable Car
Our trip to Ruyifeng Cable Car was actually the highlight of my time in Yangshuo this time around. Not only was the cable car ride itself spectacular, but there is tons to see once you’re up there too. We did the full circuit, seeing the suspension bridge and both glass bridges and it took us over 2 hours to explore it all.
It was quite hot up there, so the climb was a bit rough, but we took it slow, stopped for lots of water (and ice cream!) and got to see so many incredible views of the surrounding area. It was well worth the 200rmb each that we paid.
The suspension bridge was sturdier than many I’ve been on in China. There were red ribbons tied along a lot of it, making it really stand out against all the green. I think I like this better than the locks that are often put on bridges like this.
There are 2 glass bridges as well. I don’t typically bother with them because I usually find them overpriced, plus I’m dubious of their safety, but these ones were included in the price, and seemed to be well maintained. You need to rent 5rmb booties to cover your shoes, so the glass isn’t scratched up. It was actually pretty cool to see! My legs hardly shook at all!!
I was really impressed with this part of our trip. The whole area was well maintained and staff were there cleaning up any litter left behind by inconsiderate guests. Things weren’t priced too high, and overall, it was just a really nice experience.
If you get your tickets right at the site, they are 260rmb each, but our hotel was able to save us some money and we only paid 200 (around 40 dollars Canadian). We spent about 3 hours there in total and got to see the countryside from a stunning vantage point. I’d recommend it to anyone, honestly, even if you don’t do the big walk around.
Other Things to Do
There were a few things that we had wanted to do but couldn’t, like rafting down the Yulong River, or seeing the Yangshuo evening show. Both would have been nice, but funds and time were an issue, so we had to skip them this time around.
We did year from many people that the night show is spectacular, but we really enjoyed hiking and taking in the natural beauty of Guanxi, so I can’t say we made a bad choice.
Our next stop on this journey was to the world famous park: Zhangjiajie!!! Thanks to the areas otherworldly landscapes, the movie Avatar was filmed there. We had a great time and I’ll be back to write about it soon!!