Our flight from Xi’an arrived into Guilin just after 10 pm where a private bus was waiting to transfer us to Yangshuo. A drive of 1.5 hours in an air-conditioned bus protected us from the high humidity.
It’s June, and the previous two weeks the area has experienced a lot of rain with flooding in Yangshuo. Seeing the landslides and damaged roads on the drive is a little daunting.
Yangshou is the gateway to many spectacular day trips and activities.
Related Post: Best of Xian City including the Terracotta Warriors
Popular Highlights in Yangshuo for a 3-day visit
- Cycling Rice Fields
- Climb the Temple of the Moon
- Bamboo Rafting on the Li River
- Xiang Gong Mountain Sunrise
- Tea Ceremony at a local Tea Plantation
- Yangshou shopping
Plus there are always cooking classes, Tai Chi or massages available.
To find out more about the activities in Yangshuo, you may like to browse this website Yangshuo Insider.
Two days in Yangshuo is great but three days in Yangshuo is the best way to experience the popular highlights of Yangshuo.
And if your next stop on your China travel plan is Longji, then here is an insight of a two-day stay.
Pay more for Good Accommodation in Yangshuo
We arrived at another substandard hotel on the G Adventure tour. This hotel dating back to the 1970s if the pictures on the wall of Jimmy Carter are accurate.
This hotel seriously needs a bulldozer through it. The rooms are musty, mouldy and the bed damp. So, Maura is down at reception around 12.30am asking for a change of room.
The rooms offered were of the same standard so it’s back to the room, to cuddle up in our silk sleeping bag liners to tried to keep warm.
The next morning the lovely gentleman at the front desk shows us a room on the other side where the sunshine filled the room. It was worth paying for an upgrade.
Unfortunately, the hotel accommodation sees two of the group go down with chest infections, Terry one of them.
Not to be put off, we are ready in the morning to see more of this wonderful place.
Best of Yangshuo
An orientation walk, even at 8 am is one of the best ways to see this amazing town. Yangshuo is situated next to the Li River, swollen from the overnight and last weeks rain.
West Street does cater to Western tourists, but there is still plenty to see in and around the old town.
But first breakfast.
The recommendation was Lucy’s Cafe. If you want good quality food at a reasonable price, then Lucy’s Cafe for breakfast or lunch is the place to go.
The fried dumplings with a lovely cup of coffee and eggs are the best.
1. Shopping in Yangshou
2. Visit the Old Man and his Cormorant on Li River
Make sure you wander down to its banks of the Li River to see the elderly gentleman and his cormorant bird on the bamboo raft.
He does ask for a payment to take his photo. If you wait long enough, you can see the cormorant fishing.
In the afternoon, don’t be surprised to see Chinese tourists dressing in traditional costumes having their photos taken here. So much fun to watch them and even some of the ladies wanting Terry to join in the photo shoot.
3. Make your own Fun and Nightlife in Yangshuo
Tonight most of the group is off to the Lie Sanjie River Show. The show was created and choreographed by the director of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. It is held in a natural theatre with Yangshuo as a backdrop.
If the Lie Sanjie River Show is not for you, the other option is to find one of the local bars. There is usually a live band. And if not, well, you can have your own fun.
We joined the American group (Alicia, Mariel, Augusto and Ron) and Elaine from Ireland for a drink in a local bar. As the only patrons, we started a drinking game with Terry negotiating happy hour beer prices.
The band were on a break and left us with some great music to listen to. Singing along to the music, Maura got Terry up on the small stage to take the mic while Maura grabbed the guitar. Alicia chose the keyboard and Mariel the tambourine.
Not quite a karaoke!
The owner of the bar decided to take back the stage. While the others went back to the table, Maura pretended to accompany him on the keyboard. Just the one song before handing back to the guy who could play it.
Time to move on as the songs are now in Mandarin, so another bar is found before the evening is over.
And guess what?
We did it all again the next evening, with a larger group, even though we had a 3.45 am start the next day.
Once again, the group dominated the bar to the extent that the owner wouldn’t let anyone else in as we sang and danced up a storm to 80’s rock ballads.
Even attract a big group of spectators on the street. Such a great night!
4. Walking to Jade Mountain
The karst mountains in the Yangshuo region are spectacular.
Having heard of Jade Mountain and our curiosity to explore places on foot, we set off to find Jade mountain.
We thought if we started early enough, considering the heat, we should be ok.
Famous last words!
Enjoying a sleep-in after a great night out, our first stop was Lucy’s Cafe. Feeling refreshed after another delicious breakfast, we were set to go.
Our walk along the Li River showed there was plenty of activity with large tour boats and smaller bamboo raft boats. These bamboo rafts intrigued us with their deck like chairs for patrons to sit in to enjoy the journey.
Next, we found an interesting fish market with an assortment of fish, turtles, eels and prawns. Fished from the many bamboo rafts on the Li River.
We continue down along the river past the bridge finding a small village with a couple of hotels and local men cooling off in an interesting way.
Walking, walking, where is this Jade Mountain?
Over a washed-out bridge and up another hill, we finally find the karst named Jade Mountain.
Did we go any further?
Just as we were about to turn onto the path, a rat ran across the road, hitting its head on the curb and quickly changing direction. Away from us!!
A few photos later, and with the heat now around 30 degrees we hail a local tuk-tuk back to the hotel.
Relax with a Chinese Massage
Ok, who said a Chinese massage is relaxing?
And afterwards, all we can say is, what an amazing massage.
Chinese massage was so different from a Thai massage but oh my goodness, not at all relaxing. They must have found every knot in our bodies.
Starting with our heads and working down to our feet, we spent 90 minutes having the tension released from our bodies.
Funnily enough, we felt so relaxed afterwards.
Cycling Yulong River Ecological Park
One of the top things to do in Yangshuo is to hire a bicycle and see the Karst mountains and rice fields of Yangshuo.
Yulong River Ecological Park was chosen for our group to see more of the region. There is no entrance fee, but there are plenty of activities along the route to enjoy. Some of the group hired a Bamboo Raft to cruise along the Li River.
It’s easy to hire bikes in the town of Yangshuo. Just make sure they have good tyres and suspension. Why? Biking in and around the rice fields can get a little bumpy.
Although rain we thought was predicted on the day of our cycle ride, the sun decided to shine instead with the heat at 30degC. But it was the high humidity that had us all drinking “buckets” of water and trying to find the shadiest tree to hide under.
While at a drink stop beside the river, some girls in the group purchase flower wreaths from the old ladies.
Cycling among rice fields in Yangshuo
We have to say the ride was excellent. Cycling in the Yangshuo rice fields had us passing by old housing areas, lakes, the river, rice fields, lotus ponds and those amazing Karsts mountains. So famous for this area and so beautiful.
The first stop was amongst the rice fields where the farmer, bent from hard labour, was ploughing the rice fields with his water buffalo.
It gave the group a better appreciation of the rice we eat, which is still labour-intensive in some areas.
Cycling, we stop at the bottom of a hill at another scenic spot. Maura takes the opportunity to buy some nectarines from a farmer. They taste so good.
Cycling, cycling over the bridge to wait for some of the group who did the bamboo ride. It’s classic! You sit upon the bamboo raft in deck chairs under a large sun umbrella.
Having trees to shelter under along the Li River is a blessing as the heat is intensive.
Perhaps we should have hired these scooters instead!
Lunch under Moon Hill
Lunchtime, or more importantly, beer time as we finally stop to rest our sore bums.
A cold beer at last and then to enjoy a sumptuous Chinese meal of many dishes.
However, with lunch not quite settled, we are off up the hill through the forest to get a closer view of Moon Palace.
Moon Hill at the height of 230m and 800 steps, sweat was running down our bodies by the time we reached the peak. The views were worth the effort.
The bicycle ride back to the hotel went well except for Terry’s brush with the sidewalk, ripping open his calf in a few places. Maura has to patch up the mess.
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Xiang Gong Mountain
If you can manage an early start, then one of the best things to do in Yangshuo is sunrise at Xiang Gong mountain.
We had a private tour booked at 4 am with six of the group to view the sunrise at Xiang Gong mountain.
The place chosen is a National Geographic site overlooking the Li River. So as you can imagine, there were a lot of very large looking cameras.
With five viewing platforms, we were able to squeeze into a corner on the top platform along with the tripods, long lens cameras and enthusiasts waiting for the sun.
When the wisps of fog came and went along the Li River, we had spectacular views.
While the photos don’t do justice to the scenes. Witnessing first hand the beauty and sunrise at Xiang Gong mountain, was one of the best experiences in China.
Book a Chinese Tea Ceremony
No visit we feel to China would be complete without a visit to a tea plantation.
The half-hour drive from Xiang Gong mountain, allowing Maura her wee kip, the scenery dramatically changed.
Tea plantations, about 15 years old and Loquat trees (a type of orange) about 10 years old, covered the hillsides.
The farmers in the region were asked by the government to clear bush and plant plantations. And looking at the vastness of bushes and trees, it has been beneficial to the farmers.
We were looking forward to tasting the tea, but first, we had to pick some bushels. We were shown how to find the two leaves with one bud, vital for producing good quality tea.
With a cone hat and a basket, it was “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go.”
Well, Maura is working and Terry after picking a couple of tea leaves takes on the role of supervisor for the group.
Tea Ceremony at Seven Fairies Peak
Completing our tea picking task, we were shown the drying process.
It was interesting to learn about the particular processes to dry the tea for white tea (less caffeine), green tea and black tea.
On a trip to Sri Lanka and Kerela, Southern India, we learnt about Silver Tip tea. This tea is one of the best for quality and taste, so we were keen to taste the Chinese white tea.
We were a little nervous about the tea ceremony as some of our family had spent a whole afternoon for the ritual. As we had a bus to get at 2 pm, we were hoping the tea ceremony wouldn’t take this long.
We were all seated for the tea ceremony and told about its history and significance. We were then invited to taste each type of tea. And yes, the white tea was our favourite.
The small shop sold the tea we had tasted, along with teacups and teapots.
A 30-minute drive back to the hotel gave us time to freshen up and find some lunch.
Our private bus from Yangshuo to Longji terraced rice fields was booked for 2 pm. Our stay would be at Ping’an village for our Homestay and Trek of Longji terraced rice field trek.
The drive would take us via Guilan, a travel destination worth adding to your China trip to ensure you see the popular highlights of Yangshuo.