When you're dreaming about China destinations, you're probably thinking the Great Wall (because c'mon...the Great Wall!) or you're picturing Ethan Hunt jumping from rooftop to rooftop in beautiful Shanghai (Mission Impossible III anyone?).
Yes, those are famous must sees. But...if you're an experienced ILP volunteer in China, you've already gotten the insider tip about Yangshuo. With all of the incredible sites in China to choose from, Yangshuo is consistently THE favorite vacation spot among ILP volunteers.
Why is Yangshuo a must see?
We could write pages pages about this single question, but we've narrowed it down to the absolute highlights:
- Dr. Suess Mountains
- Outdoor adventures like mud caves & rafting
- Beautiful, traditional Chinese landscape
The Li River has tall rolling mountains nicknamed the "Dr. Seuss mountains" for their whimsical shape. If you see a picture of Yangshuo, its almost always going to be of someone floating down the Li River on a raft steered by a Chinese man standing and pushing them along with a bamboo stick. Dreamy? Yes. Incredibly beautiful you can't believe it's actually real? Also yes. Check out your 20 yuan before spending it on noodles and souvenirs and you might recognize the image on the back.
What is there to do?
The biggest problem you will run into is not having enough time to do everything you want. Seriously. Yangshuo is packed with adventure, activities, stuff to see and you're going to want to do it all!
- Bamboo raft down the Li River
- Explore caves
- Bike through rice fields & small villages.
- River drifting
- Hike to Moon Hill
- Traditional cooking class
- Bridge jumping
- Shopping for souvenirs
Here are the deets....
Where is it?
Yangshuo is a town located outside of Guilin in the Guangxi region of southeast China. If you're an ILP volunteer in Zhongshan, you're heading northwest, but most ILP groups will head south to get here. If you're one of the northern schools, we promise the trip is worth it.
How do I get there?
There is both an airport and railway station in Guilin, which is about 40 miles west of Yangshuo. Most volunteers take the train as you can get really affordable tickets. Once you arrive in Guilin, buses run regularly from the South Railway Station to Yangshuo. It'll take you a little over an hour to get there and as always, transportation is cheap.
You can also avoid Guilin altogether and go directly to Yangshuo via buses. If you're already located in south China, consider taking a sleeper bus and getting off in Yangshuo before it continues on to Guilin.
Where should I stay?
May we recommend a favorite hostel or two?
- 11 Youth Hostel. Located right in town, so it's really close to the shopping street, plus it's so cheap.
- Yangshuo Sudder Street Guesthouse. If you're looking for a poolside view of Yangshuo, this is your hostel.)
There are lots and lots of good hostels in the area, so feel free to hunt arond and find a spot that works best — Hostel World is a great place to find hostels where you can check location, rating, and price, all in one spot.
What is there to do?
If you've only got 2 days in Yangshuo, you can still hit the most popular activities (marked with a * below).
Talk to the owners of your hostel about what to do in town. Chances are they can direct you on where to go to join in on these fun activities.
- *Raft down the Li River & explore the mud caves.
- *Bike outside the city through rice fields and villages.
- Go River Drifting.
- Hike to Moon Hill.
- Take a cooking class
- Bridge Jumping.
Here's a bit more info about bridge jumping in Yangshuo.
Should I spend time in Guilin too?
If you're stopping in Guilin anyways because of your travel plans, then maybe. Guilin is known for its cascading rice terraces that you can walk and bike through. There are incredible sights here as well. If you're going straight into Yangshuo by bus and only have a couple of days, you might consider opting out of making the trip into Guilin so that you have enough time to do everything you want to do in Yangshuo.