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Guilin and Yangshou, China

I highly recommend taking the trip to Guilin, more specifically Yangshuo in Guangxi province. It is a truly breathtakingly beautiful place, and the pace of life is slower than in the major cities. Now, I’m not going to say how ideallic and untouched it is, because it’s definitely not. There were tons of Chinese and Western tourists there, but the ability to take in the place at your own pace was appealing.

River raft ride through the scenic limestone mountains

Yangshou is a touristy backpacker town about 70 km or 1 hour from the main city of Guilin. I flew from Shenzhen and have recently searched flights going for about 590 each way, inclusive of tax. From HKG, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, and China Southern all fly non-stop, at higher fares. I hired a taxi through my hotel to pick me up upon arrival and go straight to Yangshou.

China’s famous ‘mountain’ ‘water’ scenery

These are the three main activities I recommend:

  1. Bamboo river raft riding through the limestone mountains in Yangshuo (and the boat driver leaving me at a farm, short of the pier, because they charged a ‘docking fee,’ and getting chased by a bull because of that.)
  2. Bike riding through the farmland and mountains (and the scam ‘ferry’ to bring you across the stream where a bridge was never built)
  3. Impressions Light Show (by Olympic opening games director Zhang Yimou)

The trip is an easy 1.5 hour flight from HKG, and can be a long weekend getaway. Guilin itself didn’t offer much, except for a rock in the shape of an elephant’s trunk, which I refused to pay good RMB for, so I peered through the trees to see it. There are some caves lit in neon colors on the tourist trail as well. The most interesting and fun part was going up Yao Mountain on a ski lift, then sledding down on what I thought to be an extremely dangerous, but lengthly and enjoyable toboggan track.

Hundreds of performers in the water

4 Responses
  • jjc
    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Thanks for the report on Yangshou – any recommendations on hotels?

    • HKTravelBlog
      Monday, May 14, 2012

      @jjc Personally I only stayed at one property, the River View Hotel. It’s ranked 10 on Tripadvisor, and I would call it mid-range and a little dated when I was there; I required a triple room so my options were limited. However, based on pictures it looks like they might’ve renovated recently so could be a good choice with a nice location next to the river. Staff were helpful with the town sites, getting tickets to the show, and they had bikes to rent.

      There are many other properties in town, both higher and lower end to suit any budget.

      Btw, I love J.Crew it’s my favorite store in the US.

  • […] The best offers I think are Guilin, Taichung, or Chiang Mai. Taxes & surcharges will probably be another $700 – $800 on top. Coincidentally I did a trip report on Guilin recently. […]

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