Yulong river in Yangshuo

Yangshuo – A Cozy Backpacker’s Village

This post was last updated on April 24th, 2020 at 08:33 am

Yangshuo is not a traditional Chinese mountain village, for that you will have to go more into the countryside. Yangshuo is, however, an internationally known backpacker’s village with an unprecedented cozy atmosphere. It is the perfect base for a stay in this beautiful region.


For many people, this region is a highlight of their trip through China. Therefore, read this page carefully. We teach you the following about this beautiful region on this page;


One of the Most Beautiful Cities in China

Yangshuo is all atmosphere and it gives you a great opportunity to enjoy the local flavors and scents. In addition, Yangshuo is the ideal place to book a cruise on the Li River. Due to the surroundings in the Karst Mountains, the village also attracts many climbers, but there is more than enough to do for every type of tourist.


TIP – Rent a bike (US$15 per day) and cycle around the area. An amazing experience! Bike Asia is a well-known and fun organization where you can book organized bike tours.


Strolling along the rice fields and enjoying the beautiful limestone mountain tops will make your stay in Yangshuo unforgettable! Most people plan to stay here for one or two days during their trip through China, but in the end, they stay much longer.


Panorama of the Li River and Karst mountains near Yangshuo
Panorama of the Li River and Karst mountains near Yangshuo


Why Yangshuo?

At first glance, this is not immediately your favorite destination in China. Many travelers who come here complain about the lack of charm. And that is true. Yangshuo is no longer the traditional village that once sat so picturesque on the Li River. It is a chaotic city, with heavy traffic, buses full of Chinese people and bars where everything is being done.


But don’t worry. The city of Yangshuo is not the only thing you come here for. The area around the city is the real attraction. The landscape with the Karst Mountains, the river, bamboo rafts, and green valleys is almost too beautiful to be real. It is a landscape that you will not find anywhere else and there is much to do around here.


View of bamboo raft sailing through a reflective river
Taking a bamboo raft across the Li River


Best Things to Do in Yangshuo

There is plenty to do and see in and around Yangshuo. Especially in the surrounding area, you can easily enjoy yourself for a few days. The surroundings are very interesting for nature lovers and adventurers who want to walk, cycle or hike. Below we’ve made an overview of a number of beautiful sights or activities.


1. Cycling and Bamboo Sailing Between the Karst Mountains

Blooming Trees along the Yulong River in Yangshuo

Start your day in Yangshuo early, so that you can explore the karst landscape before the other tourists arrive. We prefer a combination of cycling and boating, where you can also take small paths along the river, through villages and along rice fields. Then you can cycle to the Yulong River and step on a bamboo raft to float along with the current.


Bamboo rafting has become a popular activity with the Chinese themselves, which sometimes makes it quite busy on the water. We kind of enjoyed witnessing this puppet show of selfie-making Chinese tourists. After a few kilometers, you get back on the bike and you can set your course towards Moon Hill. It is quite a climb to get to the top, but the views over the green karst mountains are truly phenomenal!


2. Watch a Magical Light Show on the River

In the evening a great spectacle takes place on and along the Li and Yulong rivers. China’s most famous director, Zhang Yimou, was responsible for directing the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has put on an outdoor show here between the karst mountains and the river in Yangshuo that attracts thousands of visitors every night.


During this Chinese love story, the surrounding mountains are spectacularly lit. Kitsch, but very cool!


3. The Impressive Limestone Rocks

Hiking over the Bìlián Peak, a beautiful trip that takes you past the limestone rocks and where you have a beautiful view of the city and the Li River. The climb to this viewpoint takes only half an hour.


Other well-known hills to climb are Man Hill, Lady Hill, and Dragon Head Hill.


TIP – Access to the Bilian Peak is 30 Chinese Yuan (US$4.25) p.p.


Li River flowing through karst mountains and farms
It’s really like a fairy-tale


4. Experience Chinese Culture

The Former Residence of Xu Beihong is a beautiful cultural attraction. The Chinese artist Xu Beihong (1895-1953) completed one of his best works here with non-Chinese art.


For those who are looking for more Chinese art and culture, head to the Hongfu Palace Hotel and Le Vôtre Café with relics from the Qing Dynasty.


5. Balloon Flight

Perhaps the most beautiful attraction is the balloon flight, one of the nicest ways to see the area! We also recommend visiting the Liu Sanjie show on the Li River. Hundreds of people perform here every evening! The Liu Sanjie show guarantees a pleasant evening!


TIP – A flight will cost you around US$100 per person. Check out this website for more information.


View of the mountains near Yangshuo from a hot air balloon
View of the mountains near Yangshuo from a hot air balloon


6. Kung Fu Lesson for Active People

Do you like to be active during your stay between the karst mountains and, at the same time, get to know more about a very typical Chinese activity? Then a Kung Fu lesson might be something for you. It is possible in Yangshuo! You will learn the principles of this spiritual martial art from an actual kung fu master in an hour.


Sometimes we had the feeling that we were in the movie The Karate Kid, but with a bit of concentration, we actually felt pretty tough and zen.


7. Visit the Rice Terraces of Ping’an

The rice terraces of Ping'an, near Yangshuo

Did you know that from Yangshuo it is “only” a three-hour drive to the village of Ping’an, situated between amazing bright green rice fields? It is an authentic village that is only accessible on foot, between the highest rice terraces in the world. The inhabitants live in high wooden stilt houses and the women look beautiful with silver jewelry and long hair wrapped around their heads.


Take a walk through the rice terraces: you climb and descend, pass viewpoints and cross rivers with large water wheels. You walk between rice fields where the colorful Zhuang minority pushes their oxen through the mud. We wanted to add a piece of culture to our trip to Yangshuo.


How to Get to Yangshuo

Yangshuo is easy to reach. There are a number of ways to get there. Most will travel to Guilin by train or plane and travel to Yangshuo from there.


By Plane

The nearest place with an airport and train station is Guilin at about 100 kilometers (62 miles). The easiest way is to buy a plane ticket to Guilin (Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, KWL) and from there take a taxi to Yangshuo.


This costs around 300 Chinese Yuan (US$42.50) plus some toll fees. The journey takes around 1.5 hours. You can also take the bus from the airport. However, you must first go to the center of Guilin and from there to Yangshuo. This is cheaper (around 40-50 Chinese Yuan, US$5.70 to $7) but takes a little longer with 3 hours.


TIP – At Skyscanner, you can book the cheapest domestic flights in China.


By Bus

If you do not like both the train and the plane, or if you are above your budget, you can also opt for the (night) bus. You can go to Yangshuo by bus from Guilin (20 Yuan, 1-hour drive), Nanning (165 Yuan, 6.5-hour drive), Shenzhen (235 Yuan, 13-hour drive), Xingping (8 Yuan, 1-hour drive) and Yangdi (11 Yuan, 30 minutes’ drive).


By Boat

You also have the boat as the last means of transport. A trip on the Li River is a wonderful experience along the beautiful landscape. In the high season, however, you are not the only one and there are at least 30 boats next to your boat, which makes it slightly less romantic than the brochure indicates.


TIP – You can also choose to take a day trip on the river during your stay in Yangshuo. Almost every hotel and hostel offers this!


A fisherman and his osprey friend during a sunset
A fisherman and his osprey friends during a sunset


Best Time to Visit Yangshuo

The best time to visit Yangshuo is at the end of March to May and the end of September to November. During these months the weather is good and you often have sunny days with temperatures that fluctuate between 20 and 30°C (68°F to 86°F). Keep National Day (1 to 7 October) in mind. The Chinese are then free from work and it can become extremely busy.


Take a look at the table below to find the average temperature and rainfall per month in Yangshuo:


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
12°C 13°C 16°C 23°C 27°C 30°C 33°C 33°C 30°C 27°C 20°C 15°C


The Best Accommodations in Yangshuo

Yangshuo is completely geared towards tourists and there is no shortage of great affordable hotels. Do you like to go into town in the evening to eat or drink something? Then choose a hotel in Yangshuo itself. The Yangshuo West Street Residence is highly recommended because it is located in the middle of the (sometimes noisy) center.


Do you want to enjoy your rest more? Consider a guesthouse in the Chinese countryside near Yangshuo. There are several of these and they are often only 5 to 10 kilometers by bike from the city center. Our favorite is The Giggling Tree Guesthouse. This is a guesthouse about 5 kilometers from the center. From there you can make beautiful walks and bike rides.


Akisoto’s Favorite Picks in Yangshuo

  • River View Hotel. This hotel is located in a less crowded area of ​​downtown Yangshuo. From the balcony of your room, you have a beautiful view of the Li River. Ask for a room on the 3rd or 4th floor when you check-in, so you will be less bothered by the noises on the street under your balcony.


  • Fawlty Towers Hotel. Fawlty Towers Hotel is located 150 meters from West Street, the oldest street in Yangshuo at over 1400 years old. It offers modern rooms with a flat-screen TV and free internet. Have you booked a room in this hotel? Make sure you check in before 6:00 p.m. If you plan to check in later, you must indicate this in advance!


  • Yangshuo Tea Cozy. Set on the banks of the Dragon River, the Yangshuo Tea Cozy is surrounded by the breathtaking Karst peaks and large expanses of paddy fields.



  • Yangshuo Travelling With Hostel. This beautiful hostel is located in the heart of Yangshuo town. It offers a relaxing and peaceful retreat in a classic Chinese-style building with free Wi-Fi in all areas.


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