Yangshuo, Guilin is considered by many to be one of the best cities in China for adventure travel. It’s also debated to hold the most beautiful landscape in all of China. People from all over the world travel to this small town for weeks, months, and years to get clean air, relaxing atmosphere, and many outdoor activities. Here’s our 2019 ultimate guide for things to do in Yangshuo.
Top things to do in Yangshuo in 2019:
- Rock climbing
- Bamboo rafting
- Li River Cruise
- Tai Chi Classes
- Chinese cooking classes
- Chinese language classes
- West Street
- Xing Ping
- Mountain hiking
- Cave exploring
- Moon Hill
- Liu San Jie performance
- Guilin Romance Park
- Tea Plantation
- Cormorant Fishing show
- Yu Long Bridge / Fu Li Bridge
- Yangshuo Park
- White water rafting
- LongSheng rice terraces
1. Rock Climbing
Yangshuo is the rock climbing Mecca of China. Among the thousands of limestone karsts are some near-perfect climbing routes. Climbers from all over the world come to Yangshuo and stay for months at a time. It’s one of the main reasons you’ll see so many foreign faces in such a little Chinese town.
Even if you aren’t a pro or don’t have your own gear, there are plenty of English-speaking rock climbing guides and groups in Yangshuo.
2. Bamboo Raft Down the Yu Long River
Follow any road leading south out of town and you’ll enter the Yu Long River Scenic Area (also connected to the Shi Li Hua Lang Scenic Area). Some of the most beautiful sights in all of China lay in this area. You’ll eventually run into the beautiful Yu Long River where you’ll see bamboo rafts floating by.
There are many locations to board a bamboo raft along the river. When you find one, you’ll quickly be met with older Chinese ladies saying “Bamboo!” to you. How much you pay will depend on how far you are up the river. But don’t let anyone make you pay more than 100 RMB per person. You’ll have a raft guide who will stand on the back of the raft and take you down the river while you relax. Each raft has room for 2 passengers to sit.
Once you get off, the raft company should have a shuttle ready for you to take you back up the river where you boarded your raft.
3. Li River Cruise
Board a yacht and take it down the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. This is one of the most popular ways to arrive in Yangshuo (although the most expensive). The stretch of river between Guilin and Yangshuo is almost completely sheltered in by mountains on both sides.
Unfortunately, the boats can only be boarded in Guilin and not Yangshuo. Round trip tickets are available.
4. Tai Chi Class
Tucked away inside an old village on the way to the Yu Long river is Yangshuo’s Traditional Tai Chi School. Kung Fu and Tai Chi masters live here providing lessons (in English). You can enroll to stay in their school long term or simply join for a 1 hour class.
5. Take a Cooking Class
Chinese cooking instructors with the Yangshuo Cooking School will be happy to take you to a local market to show you how to buy fresh ingredients. They’ll then guide you to their school in a quiet, beautiful countryside location near the Yu Long River. There they’ll teach you how to cook delicious Chinese recipes and have a meal together. The instructors at this school are fluent in English.
6. Learn Chinese
Omeida Chinese Academy hosts foreigners in Yangshuo who are interested in studying Chinese. Chinese courses are available at any language level at any time of the year. Enroll for any time duration- 1 week or even up to 1 year. Staying in their dorms can often be cheaper than staying in a hotel!
The English College next door partners English language students with Chinese language students for conversation, creating a wonderful language environment
Omeida also offers volunteer positions for students or non-students who would like to receive free food and accommodation during their time in Yangshuo. Full-time, salary English teaching positions are also available at Omeida English College next door.
7. Explore West Street
West Street is where all the action is. It’s not merely a street- it’s a whole area of bars, clubs, local restaurants, international restaurants, hotels, hostels, shopping, and much more. West Street is located right along the Li River. As long as it isn’t too crowded, you’ll enjoy spending a lot of time exploring this area.
8. Visit Xing Ping
Xing Ping holds one of the most picturesque views of Guilin/Yangshuo. Here the Li River bends around a peninsula with tall mountains on all sides. Its an ancient village along the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo. The village been remodeled with small shops and restaurants for travelers to browse before visiting the scenic area along the river.
When approaching the river area, you’ll be able to buy tickets to board a cruise ship or a motorized raft that will take you around the peninsula to see the views from the water.
To get to Xing Ping, you can take a 45-minute bus ride from the Yangshuo Bus Station.
9. Hike a Mountain
Yangshuo is a beautiful sight from all angles, and especially from a mountain top. The mountains are karsts, so not all of them can be easily hiked, but a few can.
The most popular mountain to hike is the TV Tower mountain located near West Street. It gives a great view of the West Street area along the Li River. No ticket is required to enter the mountain, but the tower management at the peak of the mountain may charge 5 RMB for entry to the highest point.
Visit Radventures for a direction and a map of how to hike tv tower
Husband Mountain (or Xianggong Shan) also gives an incredible view of the Li River. This mountain requires a fee for entry, though, and can be a little crowded in peak seasons.
10. Explore Caves
The erosion of the limestone in the area has left behind many incredible caves. The larger caves require an entrance fee and will be lit (but with colourful, unnatural lighting, which can very disappointing). Most of Yangshuo’s caves are located in the Shi Li Hua Lang scenic area (connected to the Yu Long River Scenic Area).
Silver Cave- the largest cave, and usually considered the most impressive
Gold Water Cave- A fairly large cave with mud bath areas, showers, and hot springs inside. Bring a swimsuit!
Assembling Dragon Cave- medium sized cave, not highly recommended
Butterfly Springs Cave- nice-looking cave that leads upward and out of the cave across a suspended bridge to the springs.
Many visitors to Yangshuo, however, prefer the lesser-known caves that don’t require a ticket. Usually you’ll have the whole cave to yourself. One local favorite is referred to by many as “Treasure Cave.” We won’t spoil the secret here though, ask around and find it yourself- you’ll love it!
11. Moon Hill
Enter the Shi Li Hua Lang Scenic Area, keep going straight, cross the river, and keep going straight until you see Moon Hill on your right. You can pay a fee to hike up to the top, or go to the small village across the street to get a look from afar.
12. Bicycle in the Countryside
Bicycles can be found on the side of the street almost anywhere in Yangshuo, and can be rented for 10 – 30 RMB per day. You can take these for a ride through the Shi Li Hua Lang and Yu Long River Scenic Areas for some breathtaking views.
Electric scooters, also found anywhere in Yangshuo, are available for 50-60 RMB per day. You can also rent a gas scooter for a little higher price, but keep in mind that gas scooters generally require a Chinese driver’s license to drive.
13. Liu San Jie Performance
Liu San Jie is a musical and lightshow performance along the Li River. The legend of Liu San Jie is a story of love, struggle, and victory and was first made famous by China’s famous film director Zhang Yimou.
Tickets can be bought from any tour agency near West Street for 198 RMB.
14. Guilin Romance Park
This theme park first opened in Yangshuo in summer 2018. The main attraction of the park is its indoor theatre that hosts a live musical and light show performance similar to Liu San Jie. Other features of the park include a beach, a small “water park” area for kids, a haunted house, a free arcade, and interactive street performances with dancers and performers.
The park is an ideal stop for those traveling with kids, or those particularly interested in theatre performance. But since tickets range from 250-350 RMB per person, this isn’t a recommended spot for most tourists. Tickets can be purchased at the park entrance.
15. Tea Plantation
The Seven Stars Tea Plantation is located 12km north of Yangshuo. The beautiful road to this tea plantation winds through hills and mountains and is enjoyable in itself. The plantation is located on a hill/mountain peak in this area, where you can go for a stroll and pick your own tea leaves. Later the plantation staff will lead you through a ceremony on making and drinking the tea.
16. Cormorant Fishing Show
Cormorant fishing is a traditional fishing method native to southern China. It involves a Cormorant bird tethered to a rope who dive underwater to catch fish and then bring them back to the bamboo raft where the fisherman takes the fish from the bird’s mouth and gives them a smaller fish in exchange.
The show occurs on the Li River during sunset and is one of the most photogenic scenes in all of Yangshuo. Photographers will love this show. Animal lovers probably won’t.
Tickets can be bought for 70 RMB from any tour guide office.
There are a few different ziplining opportunities in Yangshuo. One is located opposite of the Guilin Romance park. The line extends between two mountains.
Other ziplining opportunities are managed at various locations by outdoor guide groups, who can take you to various locations themselves.
18. Yu Long Bridge/Fu Li Bridge
Both of these bridges are located northwest of Yangshuo on the Yu Long River. The Yu Long Bridge is larger but can be overcrowded with rafts and tourists in peak times.
The Fu Li Bridge usually has fewer people and rafts and is located further up the river. The reflection of the bridge in the water can make a near-perfect circle. Photographers may enjoy this spot.
There are no fees for accessing the bridge. Most visitors enjoy a bicycle ride to the bridges.
19. Yangshuo Park
Yangshuo Park is located in the center of town just across from West Street. It’s a great place for walking or jogging. In the mornings you can find locals practicing Tai Chi, in the evenings you’ll find them square dancing.
There’s a karst on the edge of the park (opposite side from West Street) where you can hike up to see a nice view.
20. Pu Bu Tang Waterfall
Rent a scooter and follow a winding road that leads north out of Yangshuo for about half an hour. You’ll get some great views of rollings hills and the Li River. You’ll eventually end up at a village that you’ll cross through to get to a paved path along the Li River. Follow the path until you reach a beautiful waterfall.
The water in the waterfall area isn’t deep enough for swimming, but great for just hanging out in. Both the beauty of the waterfall and the landscape leading up to it make this a must-visit spot. There are no tickets and very few tourists who even know about the waterfall. You’ll likely have it all to yourself.
21. Long Jing River Whitewater Rafting
If you’re into thrills, this could be your favorite attraction in Yangshuo. The Long Jing River runs from the top of a mountain to the valley below. You’ll be placed in an inflatable raft with one other person where you hunker down and hold on for dear life as you get plummeted down a series of drops with semi-calm stretches in between. Loads of fun!
The Long Jing river is located about an hour north of Yangshuo near the train station. Buy tickets from any tour agency near West Street. They will bundle the price of rafting tickets and transportation.
22. LongJi Rice Terraces
Also known as the “LongSheng,” the LongJi Rice Terraces were built by farmers almost 650 years ago. This vast area of rolling mountains are completely carved out into terraces that are divided in layers of water and rice shoots. Many say it’s the most beautiful sight in Yangshuo.
The farming villages in this area have retained much traditional culture and are welcoming to foreigners.
If Yangshuo sounds like your kind of place, consider staying for a while! Omeida offers accommodation and community for Chinese language students, visiting volunteers, and full-time English teachers at our English school. Contact us about what opportunities we could have for you!