Yangshuo, a town located on the banks of the Li River south of Guilin city, is a fantastic travel destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty and culture of China. Known for its breath-takingly beautiful karst mountains, unique caves, and Chinese delicacies, a visit to Yangshuo is truly worth your while. Unlike most towns in China, Yangshuo is relatively quiet, making it a relaxing place to visit.

Exciting Ways to Explore Yangshuo

Most travelers come to Yangshuo to soak up the otherworldly scenery. Below are seven of the best ways to enjoy all that Yangshuo’s stunning natural surroundings have to offer.

1. Ride a bamboo raft along the Yulong River

Following the Yulong river channel on a bamboo raft is one of the best ways to witness Yangshuo’s spectacular beauty. For a guided tour, you’ll need to pay a fee (not exceeding $15 or 100 RMB).

2. Watch the sunrise/sunset

Visiting Yangshuo gives you the opportunity to see the sunrise in the east. Interestingly though, you can also watch it set, and the experience is truly magical. If you want to relax and appreciate the beauty of these powerful dusk and dawn moments, you should be sure to plan to spend some of your morning or evening hours in Yangshuo. Some of the best places to watch the sunrise/sunset include:

  • Moon Hill
  • Green Lotus Peak
  • Xianggong Mountain

3. Go biking in the countryside

Biking is a popular way of exploring Yangshuo since it allows you to get to the remotest points conveniently. Along the way, you are likely to encounter several fellow cyclists. For as little as 20 RMB ($3), you can rent a bike for a day.

4. Explore Yangshuo’s caves

Yangshuo has several amazing caves that you can explore. Consider starting with Li-River Crown Cave, which is a stunning underground cavern, before heading to Silver Cave, the largest cave in Yangshuo. If you have time, you can also explore Butterfly Springs Cave.

5. Hike through the mountains

Yangshuo has a few hills that make great hiking spots for those looking for some thrills. The most notable ones include TV Tower Mountain and Husband Mountain. The TV Tower Mountain is found near West Street while Husband Mountain is located on the west side of the Li River. Both mountains give you a panoramic view of the Li River.

6. Witness cormorant fishing

Cormorant fishing is an ancient Chinese fishing technique where a cormorant bird is roped and directed deep underwater to catch sizeable fish. Once the bird has found a big fish, the fisherman takes it and offers a small fish to the bird in exchange. It’s possible to witness this activity at sunset on the Li River.

7. Attend the Liu San Jie performance 

The Liu San Jie is a spectacular outdoor show for which the waters of the Li River serve as the stage and the surrounding landscape and trees form a gorgeous backdrop. This stunning performance was choreographed by Zhang Yimou, a leading Chinese director who is also known for having directed the opening ceremony during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The show features nearly 600 performers dressed in traditional Chinese clothing riding on bamboo rafts. Tickets go for about 190 RMB ($30).

More Exciting Things to See and Do In and Around Yangshuo

Aside from being awed by the scenery, there are many more things you can see and do in and around this humble town. Here are some more suggestions:

1. Visit Xingping Ancient Town

Celebrated for its beautiful natural scenery, rich Chinese heritage, and cultural artifacts, Xingping is a breathtaking ancient town. A visit to Xingping also gives you a perfect view of Yangshuo. Chinese leader Sun Yat-sen and former U.S president Bill Clinton both toured a fishing village located in Xingping Town during their respective trips to this area.

What’s more, there is an ancient temple in town, the Guanpang Temple, which dates to the Qing Dynasty. There is also a highly popular hotel, Yangshuo Huanyuan Hotel, where you can relax and enjoy great views of the neighboring Li River.

2. Explore West Street

Are you looking for a fun-filled place where you can shop and find accommodation? Then you should consider West Street. Shopping centers are always busy here, and so are the restaurants. It’s adjacent to the Li River, which means you can easily travel from here to the Liu San Jie performance.

3. Experience the Seven Stars Tea Plantation

Are you the type who can’t go a day without taking tea? How about picking your tea leaves and making your own tea? This is the kind of experience you can have at the Seven Stars Tea Plantation in Yangshuo. The plantation is about 12 km (7.47 miles) away from the town, and you are promised some truly amazing scenery along the way.

4. Stroll around Yangshuo Park

Located in the heart of Yangshuo town is the beautiful Yangshuo Park. Here, you are likely to see people practicing martial arts, jogging, or just relaxing. You may also find a few others dancing together in the public square. Generally, the park always has some form of activity going on that you can enjoy.

5. Take in Pubutang Waterfall

Located a half an hour scooter ride from Yangshuo, Pubutang Waterfall is an attractive spot to visit. Its waters may not be deep enough for a swim, but the surrounding landscape is just breathtaking. As an added bonus, it’s free to visit the waterfall.

6. Climb Moon Hill

If you are looking for an inspiring hiking spot, then you should take a trip to Moon Hill. You’ll need to pay a fee to hike to the summit, however. Standing atop this mountain allows you to see from afar the beautiful small villages and natural scenery that defines Yangshuo as a sought-after travel destination.

7. Explore Chinese arts and crafts

Yangshuo has maintained many aspects of Chinese culture and traditions for many years. Thus, it’s an excellent place to collect Chinese arts and crafts. From pottery and stone carvings to scroll paintings and Chinese embroidery, there are many options available. You can also find collectibles in local stores.

8. Taste unique cuisine

A visit to Yangshuo allows you to enjoy local Chinese delicacies such as crispy duck, shrimp, beef noodles, and fish fragrant eggplant. The best places to try these local dishes include Clay Pot, Snow Lion, and Dynasty Dumplings. Additionally, the town is home to international food joints such as Café China, Minority Café, and the Indian Restaurant, where you can find a variety of Indian and Western delicacies.

9. Try your hand at martial arts

Many people associate Tai Chi, Kung Fu and other martial arts with China and Yangshuo has promoted this culture for many years. Martial arts are practiced on the streets and in local parks, and there are even schools where you can enroll in classes to try learning some of these ancient self-defense methods for yourself.

If you are looking to learn a martial art in English, you can register at the Yangshuo Traditional Tai Chi School. Other options include:

  • Long Tou Shan Tai Chi School
  • Carpe Diem Tai Chi Kung Fu School

Yangshuo Weather: What to Wear

Yangshuo experiences mild weather year-round. Even so, the four seasons are distinct. July-August are usually the hottest months, averaging 93-990F (34-370C), while January is generally the coldest month, averaging 41-460F (5-80C).

The best time to travel to this beautiful Chinese town is between April and October (late spring and early autumn). During this time, it’s mostly sunny and rarely rains. Thus, you can wear light clothes like shorts, a short-sleeve shirt/blouse, and tees. 

During the cold winter season, it’s advisable to wear something thick and waterproof if it rains. Packing a raincoat, waterproof footwear, thick socks, and a sweater or jacket in addition to your regular clothes is a good idea.

How to Get to Yangshuo

Yangshuo does not have an airport, so international and domestic travelers usually arrive via Guilin Liangjiang International Airport in Guilin. The airport enjoys daily flights from Shanghai and Beijing. From Guilin, direct buses to Yangshuo are available at about $5.5 (38 RMB).

You can also take a boat to Yangshuo from Guilin or ride the high speed train. Keep in mind that if you do take the train, you’ll then need to take a bus from Yangshuo train station to Yangshuo town. Once in town, you can rent a bicycle, a motorcycle or a taxi or try catching one of the local mini buses to get around.

Closing Thoughts

Yangshuo really is the perfect travel destination if you are hoping to view some magnificent scenery, experience Chinese culture and gain insight into rural Chinese life. Using the above guide, you can start preparing for your visit to Yangshuo today!