Let me take the Sunday Spotlight and shine it on the most beautiful spot in China that I have ever visited. Yangshuo is near Guilin, a town revered for its beautiful location by the Chinese. I travelled from Hong Kong, across the border to China and then by overnight train to Guilin, and in the morning a bus ride of an hour or so to Yangshuo
Unlike most ‘Sunday Spotlights’, Yangshuo is not to be visited as a town, rather the region surrounding it is legendary for its beauty. Either way up or down the river you will find amazing hills and rocks, valleys, life and everything you could want in a place where the busy craziness of China is toned down a little.
Which is important I guess, because China can be so very busy. I stayed at a wonderful little place called the Yangshuo Culture House, and you know, this was such a great place to stay for not much if it rained the while time you are there and you had to stay indoors then, if you were here it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The owner is a wonderfully warm and generous host and you get meals thrown in with your board, and they were really delicious too! In fact, one day it did pelt down with rain for the whole day and I spent the day indoors with the owner and other people staying there learning how to play (and playing) Mah-jongg. The room was spacious, it was clean, it is was in someone’s home that had been converted, it’s JUST the sort of place I love to stay when I travel. Sadly, there was an apparently great cultural stage show I had tickets for that day, but alas, the show was cancelled.
BUT that would take away from the sheer beauty of the area. The Li River is simply a beautiful place to get back to nature. Chinese style I guess! There are walking trails up and down the river, the roads are great for cycling – easy to hire in town, despite the hills and rocks, the roads are actually reasonably flat to ride.
Taking a boat or bamboo raft is also a great way to move about the region. One day I hired a bike and even getting lost is a great thing to do! Which is what I did. I don’t know how far I cycled that day, maybe 30-40km, but it was great because sometimes I got onto smaller tracks between rice fields and found favourite fishing spots of the locals and then managed to find where I was on the map and made my way to these famous caves – the ‘Assembly Dragon Caves’. It started with a boat into the caves, and then a guided tour, in Chinese. The caves were pretty big with music and coloured lights to make them even a little more ‘enchanting’. A little commercialised, but worth a visit.
Up the Li River I took a boat, hiked 15km or so and then ended up on a bus back to Yangshuo. There’s a famous spot that EVERYONE stopped at on the side of the river because that’s the scenery that appears on the 20 yuan note. More interesting for this traveller were the brides and bridegrooms finding beautiful river-side spots to have pictures taking in wedding dresses and so on. In May it was pretty hot and sticky, so maybe April is a better time to come, or the end of March, but it really is a great little part of China, and so worth getting out to. So, if you’re heading to China, I’m sure you won’t regret getting to Yangshuo. It’s special. Enough said.
- Website – Yangshuo Culture House