Located in the south of China, Yangshuo is just a beacon of beauty with gorgeous mountains ranges and flowing rivers. Besides visiting Beijing and Xi’An, Yangshuo is now going to be at the top of my list when I recommend places to visit in China. It was such a nice break to leave city life in Shanghai and escape into nature.
As I mentioned in my Guilin post, the top thing that you have to do is take the Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo. This 5+ hour tour gives you a once in a lifetime view of China’s most breathtaking scenery. It’s so iconic that it’s even on the back of the 20RMB bill! I can see how this has been the inspiration for so many artists to paint and draw on long scrolls. The cruise takes you to a port that is about at 15-20 minute walk away from Xi Jie 西街 (West Street), which is basically Yangshuo’s downtown.
Yangshuo’s most famous cave is Silver Cave. Although it is larger than Guilin’s Reed Flute Cave, I actually prefer Reed Flute. I felt that the lighting in Reed Flute Cave was done better and it was more impressive. So if see Reed Flute Cave, then you can pass on visiting Silver Cave.
I woke up super early one day and headed out to see some of the local sites at sunrise, including the ancient Banyan tree, Moon Hill and Jiu Xian Village. According to the locals, the Banyan tree is over 1,500 years old. There’s an entrance fee of 20RMB (I was there so early that I didn’t have to pay). While I just stopped for a quick view of Moon Hill, I definitely think it would be worthwhile to climb the hill and get an even better view of Yangshuo. One popular place to visit is Jiu Xian Village, which is a small ancient village nestled within the mountains. On road to the village, I noticed that this was where many of the high-end and luxury resorts were located. I can see how being at one with nature would definitely be a little paradise.
If you go to Guilin or Yangshuo, you have to book tickets to see the Liu San Jie Impression Light Show. With the mountain as a backdrop, the entire show is performed on water with boats and make-shift stages. It was so incredibly impressive. Apparently, the show employs 3,000 locals! My photos, unfortunately, can’t do the show justice. Imagine the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony being held on water. I definitely recommend booking tickets and getting seats that are B2 or higher. If you only do one thing in Yangshuo, you have to see this show!!!
This trip, honestly, just kept getting better and better for me. Early in the morning, I headed to Xiang Gong Mountain 相公山 and was rewarded with one of the most spectacular views of my life. There were endless mountain and the Li River winding through the villages. My only regret was not having the foresight to go at sunrise. By the time I arrived, it was around 8am and the sun was behind the mountains with a strong glare. I can only imagine how spectacular the view would be at sunrise with a slight misty haze. I hope one day to visit again and make the morning trek.
Close to Yangshuo is “Shangri-La”/世外桃源/Chinese Wonderland. Not to be confused with the Shangri-La in Yunnan, this is tourist destination where you go on a small river cruise around the wonderland. While the pagodas lead to some good photos, it was all a little too man-made and kitschy for me and I definitely preferred the Yulong River bamboo rafts ride instead.
Besides the Li River Cruise and Liu San Jie Impression show, I also would really recommend taking a bamboo raft down the Yulong river. Truthfully, I was on the fence about going since I figured that I already went on the boat cruise. But, floating down the river on a bamboo raft is a completely different experience and still worthwhile. You’re right on top of the water with a different view and a cool breeze rushing through your face. The water is incredibly clean and you can even see locals swimming in the river. It was the last thing I did before heading back to Shanghai and it was a great way to end my trip. Yangshuo was a welcome retreat and it was such a rewarding trip. If you come to China, I can’t urge you enough to visit!