This mini travel guide provides you with a list of must see places and wonderful attractions in Yangshuo, China. We’ve put together a list of the best things to do, when to visit and where to stay in Yangshuo to make sure you have an awesome time.
Yangshuo is a small town surrounded by picturesque countryside next to Li River and Yulong River. It is in southern China and Guilin is the nearest city.
- Best Things to Do in Yangshuo
- Where to stay in Yangshuo
- When to visit Yangshuo
- How to get to Yangshuo
1. Take Bamboo Raft on Yulong River
The most relaxing way to explore Yangshuo is on a bamboo raft. The bamboo rafts on Yulong River are powered by someone standing on the back and pushing a long bamboo stick against the base of the river. No engines in sight, just endless views of mountains and nature, with the soft sound of the water.
There are different offerings for this activity; some go in a circle, whilst others go further along the river and down some small waterfalls. You can rent and power the raft yourself, or you can have a guide take you. If you cycled and are going one way, there are pickup trucks that will transport your bike to the end.
2. Cruise down the Li River
Li River is most famous for appearing on the 20 Yuan note, but that is just one of the endless beautiful spots along the river. There are ferries that leave every morning from Guilin to Yangshuo that cruise down the river, giving you 4 hours to enjoy it.
In addition, there are 30 – 60 minute tours that run on engine powered bamboo rafts, giving you the chance to see the most famous views on the Li River. Many tour operators in Yangshuo will offer the shorter tours and the 4 hour cruise is best booked in Guilin.
3. Rent a bicycle
Renting a bicycle is the best way to get around the Yangshuo area. Cycling allows you to explore a much greater area than walking, and driving is just not possible in most places. There is a seemingly endless amount of cycle paths running along rivers and in between hills, so you will never be short of somewhere to cycle.
Bikes are very cheap to rent and you will probably be given a map with some recommended routes. If you’re worried about getting lost or would prefer to learn more about Yangshuo and its history, you can always book a cycling tour. However you choose to do it, you will be weaving around the hills, crossing bridges and taking breaks in the most gorgeous surroundings.
4. West Street
During the day, the street is filled with shops selling local snacks and wines, which you can see them making in front of you. You can pick up souvenirs or have someone draw a caricature of you on a plate and there are a lot of nice restaurants. A whole duck, with pancakes and toppings for ¥50? Yes please!
At night, the bars and clubs start opening and the later it gets, the louder it gets. Even on the street it is deafening as the clubs compete to see who has the loudest speakers.
5. Yangshuo Park Lookout
Right in the centre of town is Yangshuo Park, which is very nice in its own right, but the lookout point offers you a chance to see Yangshuo from a different perspective. There is just something surreal to see all these buildings flood the base of the mountains.
6. Pose with Moon Hill
Just outside of Yangshuo is Moon Hill, named after the moon shaped hole in the middle of it. You can hike up the hill to witness the glorious landscape of the surrounding area, do some rock climbing or simply just look at the hill.
7. Explore Silver Cave
Silver Cave is largest karst cave in and around Yangshuo, with almost 30 scenic spots inside. Different ares are lit up with colours, giving them a unique mood. There is a famous Chinese saying; “anyone who has been to Silver Cave will never be short of money”, so you’ll be able to enjoy the cave and get some good fortune at the same time.
8. Take a Mud Bath at Water Caves
The caves at Water Caves are less impressive than Silver Caves. But, an underground hot spring and mud baths make these caves a bit special for someone wanting to experience something varied when visiting caves. Just remember to take a change of clothes!
9. Eat Beer Fish
Beer Fish is a Yangshuo speciality dish that combines the local Li River fish with the western flavouring of beer. There are other ingredients that keep this delicious dish bursting with flavour. Order a Tsing Tao with it, just so you have enough beer.
10. Impression Liu Sanjie Light Show
This spectacular show is unlike any other show in the world. It is not an ordinary light show and is more of a theatre that is as well rehearsed as a show on the West End or Broadway. And like many things in China, this holds a world record; for the largest natural theatre.
The mountains that provide the backdrop to the stage are illuminated and change colour with the music. The mountains could be a show in itself, but they are there to compliment the hundreds of performers that take to the stage, which is part of Li River, in a perfectly synchronised dance, using lights to paint a picture.
11. Visit Xingping
Xingping is a small ancient town up the Li River, just next to where the picture on the ¥20 note was taken. Along with the endless landscape, the ancient architecture in the town makes for a beautiful place, and the lack of tourism makes for a relaxing and tranquil day or two.
Where to stay in Yangshuo
West Street is the centre of the town, so staying near to there is a good idea. There are lots of shops, bars, restaurants, travel agents and bicycle rental shops on West Street and the surrounding area. Alternatively, there are hotels and guesthouses outside of the main town where you can feel more at one with nature.
When to visit Yangshuo
Weather-wise, it is suitable to travel to Yangshuo all year round, but Autumn is the best season and winter is the worse.
- Spring (March to May) is warm and humid.
- Summer (June to August) is hot and humid.
- Autumn (October to November) is a mild temperature, sunny & dry.
- Winter (December to February) is cold & wet.
It it best to avoid the main Chinese holidays if you can. During these times flight tickets cost more, hotel rooms are in short supply and there will be a sea of people at almost every attraction.
- Chinese New Year / Spring Festival (varies: 7 consecutive days in January or February)
- Labour Day Holiday (May 1st – 3rd)
- National Day Golden Week (October 1st – 7th)
How to get to Yangshuo
The nearest airport to Yangshuo is in Guilin.
- Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL)
There is a direct shuttle bus from the airport to Yangshuo that runs throughout the day. You could also take a taxi directly to your hotel in Yangshuo.
There are 3 train stations in Guilin that serve different cites in China, as well as Hong Kong. A closer, less frequented, station is located in Xingping.
- Guilin Railway Station
- Guilin North Railway Station
- Guilin West Railway Station
- Yangshuo Railway Station (Xingping)
Buses run from each station to Yangshuo with varying frequency. More regular buses run from Guilin South Bus Station. Taxis are also available to take you to Yangshuo.
Instead of taking the bus from Guilin to Yangshuo, you can take a 4-5 hour cruise down the Li River. There are many boats that all depart 9am – 10am, which probably means spending a night in Guilin, but there are plenty of things to do in Guilin.
The cruise will leave from either Mopanshan or Zhujiang Pier, which are both around a 45 minute drive from Guilin. Most travel agencies will include or have the option of hotel pickup, which makes the journey easier.
The cruises only operate from Guilin to Yangshuo, so you would need to take a bus or taxi back to Guilin.
When buying a bus ticket in Guilin, buy from the counter to make sure you get a direct bus. Touts outside will often sell tickets for local buses at the price of the direct bus.
The bus stop in Yangshuo for the direct bus to Guilin is a few hundred metres away from a local bus, which has many stops and charges the same price. Check on the map to make sure you are at the right stop, even if a taxi driver takes you there.
Thanks for reading
We hope you found this guide useful and now know what to do in Yangshuo. Enjoy your holiday, vacation, mini break or gap year! And please share or save this list of things to do in Yangshuo, China if you found it helpful.