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Things to Do in Yangshuo

Yangshuo, near Guilin, is known for its breathtaking scenery full of dramatic limestone karst formations. With plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, Yangshuo is popular with hikers, bikers, and rock climbers, while rafting trips down the Li or Yulong rivers offer a more leisurely way to enjoy the picturesque countryside.
 
The Basics
Yangshuo is a well-known destination for many independent travelers in southern China, but a guided tour will make it easier to find hiking and biking routes. A guide can also help point out the countryside’s most scenic spots. Tours range from a few hours to multiple days and cover a range of activities, from biking and hiking to kayaking and rock climbing. Those looking for less active pursuits can try their hand at calligraphy, cooking, or learning Chinese while in Yangshuo. Most tours originate in Yangshuo or Guilin, but also from further afield like Guangzhou and Shanghai.
 
Things to Know Before You Go
  • Yangshuo is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure travelers, and nature lovers.
  • Bring a camera as there will be plenty of scenes to photograph.
  • Don’t forget to bring sun protection and water if engaging in more active pursuits.
  • Those planning on climbing should check the status of different walls ahead of time, as they are subject to closures from time to time, often as a result of a dispute with local landowners.
 
How to Get There 
Yangshuo is located 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Guilin. The closest airport is Guilin. From Guilin, taxis will be the most direct, though expensive, option to Yangshuo. There are frequent minibuses (about 1.5 hours) and express buses (about 1 hour) from Guilin. Overnight sleeper buses are available from Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Guangzhou. The nearest train station is Yangshuo Railway Station, near Xingping, 14 miles (22 kilometers) away. A pleasant and scenic alternative is to cruise down the Li River from Guilin.
 
When to Get There
Yangshuo is a very popular tourist destination year-round. Avoid visiting during Chinese national holidays. For those planning on engaging in outdoor activities, spring and fall are the best times to visit for the most pleasant weather.
 
Top Yangshuo Attractions 
Within Yangshuo itself, top attractions include West Street and Green Lotus Peak. Nearby, popular attractions include Moon Hill and Big Banyan Tree, which are all along the scenic “Ten Mile Gallery” Road from Yangshuo. There are also many peaks to climb and caves to explore. Rafting along either the Li River or the Yulong River are also popular pastimes, as is exploring nearby villages like Xingping.
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Li River (Li Jiang)
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Along the banks of the Li River (Li Jiang) as it winds south from Guilin, dramatic karst peaks, dense vegetation, and the winding river itself create magical vistas that loom large in the Chinese imagination, having inspired art and verse for centuries. From Guilin to Yangshuo, there’s never a dull stretch along China’s most beautiful river.

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Fuli Bridge
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While the Yulong Bridge is the largest single-arch bridge in the province and the Xiangui Bridge is the oldest passage across the Yulong River, the Fuli Bridge is the tallest span. When seen from a distance, the bridge’s high arched back and the reflection it creates in the water form a perfect circle, called a full moon by locals.

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Little Li River (Yulong River)
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The Yulong River, also known as the Little Li River, is the largest tributary of the Li River, and it runs 26 miles (43 kilometers) across Yangshuo county. The river flows past limestone karsts, bamboo forests, rice paddies, ancient villages, and stone bridges. Floating down the river, or hiking or biking next to it, provides up-close views.

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Fuli Ancient Town
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The history of Fuli Ancient Town, beside the Li River, dates back more than 1,000 years. A picturesque scene set amid some of Yangshuo’s most famous karst formations, many of the town’s cobbled roads and old stone houses remain intact. The village is known for its intricate painted fans, handmade from bamboo and delicate tissue paper.

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West Street (Xi Jie)
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Nearly a kilometer long, lively West Street (Xi Jie) is the most famous street in Yangshuo, and often referred to as the town’s heart. It’s also Yangshuo’s oldest street, lined with restored buildings from the Qing Dynasty that today house a vibrant mix of cafés, restaurants, bars, hostels, hotels, and shops selling a vast array of goods.

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Yulong Bridge
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Also known as the Dragon Bridge, the 600-year-old Yulong Bridge stands amid hundreds of tall karst peaks, rural mudbrick villages, rice paddies, and grazing water buffalo. The 197-foot-long (60-meter-long) single-arched bridge—the largest of its kind in Guangxi Province—is shaped like a rainbow bending its way over the languid Yulong River.

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Big Banyan Tree
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One of the main attractions along Yangshuo’s scenic “Ten Mile Gallery,” this large, ancient tree is said to be over 1,400 years old. At 56 feet (17 meters) tall and with a trunk 23 feet (7 meters) around, this massive tree covers an area of nearly 11,000 square feet (1,000 square meters).

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Yangshuo Cooking School

Yangshuo Cooking School offers classes to those visitors who want to not only munch their way around China, but also to take home a new skill: the ability to re-create some of their favorite regional dishes. Set in a traditional farmhouse on the Li River, the Yangshuo Cooking School offers a scenic spot to get hands-on.

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Ping’an Village
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Ping’an Village is one of three main villages that comprise the Longji Terraced Fields Scenic Area northwest of Guilin. The terraced rice paddies here rank among the region’s most spectacular as they spill down the mountainside toward a river. The village itself is home to a few hundred people living much as they did centuries ago.

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Yangshuo Park
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Yangshuo Park, located in central Yangshuo, is a favorite hangout of local residents, who come to the park to exercise, play games such as chess or mah-jongg, sing and dance, or relax and unwind. It’s an easy place to escape the tourist crowds of West Street and to spend a few hours relaxing and enjoying life as the locals do.

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More Things to Do in Yangshuo

Moon Hill (Yueliang Shan)

Moon Hill (Yueliang Shan)

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One of the most popular attractions in Yangshuo, Moon Hill (Yueliang Shan) is easily recognizable by its crescent-moon-shaped natural arch, the remnants of what was once a limestone cave (Moon Palace). Rising 750 feet (230 meters), Moon Hill offers stunning panoramic views of the countryside, which is dotted with unique karst formations.

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Baisha Ancient Town (Baishazhen)

Baisha Ancient Town (Baishazhen)

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The lazy Yulong River winds through the heart of Baisha Ancient Town, a village dating back over 1,000 years set amid the spectacular karst landscape of the Guilin and Yangshuo area. In addition to occupying one of the most scenic points on the Yulong River, the town is known for its kumquats, exported throughout China.

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Impression Sanjie Liu

Impression Sanjie Liu

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Impression Sanjie Liu is a unique outdoor night show directed by renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou and staged at the Li River in Yangshuo. In the world’s largest natural theater, Yimou uses the river as a stage and the mist-shrouded karsts as a backdrop for a spectacle of light, sound, and intricate choreography.

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Xingping Town (Xingping Village)

Xingping Town (Xingping Village)

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Formerly a sleepy fishing village along the Li River, Xingping town (or Xingping village) is now a popular visitor destination for its rural landscape and well-preserved ancient architecture. Hiking and biking are popular ways to soak in the scenery, and Xingping is also the starting point of many river cruises as it’s on an especially beautiful stretch of the Li River.

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Water Caves

Water Caves

Yangshuo is well-known for its limestone karst formations, which dominate the countryside. Less known are the numerous caves within these karst formations, formed by thousands of years of erosion. Explore Yangshuo’s Longmen Water Caves, and finish off with a mud bath and a swim in an underground pool.

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Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

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For the farmers who reside in Southern China’s Longji region, rice terraces are simply a way of life. Yet for the thousands of annual visitors who make the 2-hour journey from the city of Guilin, the Longji Rice Terraces—nicknamed the Dragon’s Backbone—are an iconic symbol of Chinese agriculture and one of the most photographed sites in the country.

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Green Lotus Peak (Bilian Feng)

Green Lotus Peak (Bilian Feng)

Green Lotus Peak (Bilian Feng), the most famous peak in Yangshuo, is so named because it resembles a green lotus bud rising out of the Li River. With an elevation of 977 feet (298 meters), Green Lotus Peak offers stunning panoramic views over Yangshuo and the Li River, and has attracted visitors for more than a thousand years.

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