Yulong River

I arrived at Guilin International Airport on a flight from Hangzhou on the evening of September 27, 2016 and proceeded to board a bus for the 1.5-2 hour drive south to Yangshuo. Although it was dark, I was able to see the outlines of some of the hills as the bus approached Yangshuo. Much of the drive was on a highway, but the last quarter of the drive was on a road being that was reconstructed and therefore was extremely bumpy. By the time I arrived at the hotel it was nearly 11:00 pm.

I spent much of the following day exploring and walking around town, which is situated in a narrow valley among the karst hills. The karst topography (formed from limestone) is the region's main attraction, with tens of thousands of the small peaks filling the region to create one of the worlds' most unique landscapes.

I began with a walk from the hotel to the center of town and had an early lunch at Lucy's Cafe before continuing one through to the eastern end of town along the Li River. After some time absorbing the views along the river, I turned back into town and passed many shops and vendors. At the center of town, the red carpet was out for the grand opening of the town's first McDonald's that day.

Li River in Yangshuo

Yangshuo viewed from the hilltop pagoda

As I went back towards the hotel, I made the quick, less than ten-minute walk up to a hilltop pagoda in Yangshuo Park. There was no one else at the pagoda, and the views across the town were great, at least considering the pagoda wasn't nearly as high as some of the surrounding peaks. After the pagoda, I passed a small cave that was closed to visitors (there are several caves in the area open to visitors) on my way back to the hotel.

In mid-afternoon I was picked up by a guide who drove a small group of tourists out into the countryside to see more of the karst landscape. We first stopped at two overlooks on hills before arriving at hill said to be named "Husband Hill," but I'm not sure what the Chinese name was. The walk to the top of the hill was a bit longer than that to the hilltop pagoda in Yangshuo, but it still took me less than 15 minutes. The starting point for this walk was quite a bit higher, as the road was relatively near the top of the hill. Once at the top of the hill, the views across the Li River were fantastic, although the air clarity could have been better.

View from Husband Hill

After we departed Husband Hill, we continued in the van downhill to a small village where we stopped for a short walk to the Putao Ancient Stone City, a Qing-dynasty village where the emperor supposedly once lived. The Putao Village is run-down and devoid of tourists, but according to our guide the government was investing into restoring the village.

Putao Ancient Stone City

On the way back to Yangshuo, we stopped at an overlook where there are often great sunsets, but clouds ruined our sunset. After a brief stop in the rice fields below the overlook, it was another long ride back on the bumpy, unfinished road to Yangshuo. I had dinner that night at an unremarkable traditional Chinese restaurant in town before returning to the hotel for the night.

View from one of the first overlooks

View from the last overlook

The morning of September 29 started with a walk into town to a bike rental store. I spent much of the day biking around the countryside among the karst hills. Before lunch I stopped to ride a bamboo raft down the Yulong River, as my bike was transported around to the endpoint of the ~30-minute rafting trip. The raft was a nice reprieve from the terribly uncomfortable bike seat, but I still had quite a bit of biking to go.

It was a only a short bike ride from the Yulong River to a village where I had lunch. The village sits below Moon Hill, which is a hill with a natural arch at its peak. After lunch is was back to Yangshuo, and it was probably mid to late afternoon when I returned. I had dinner that evening at a great little restaurant just a couple doors down from Lucy's and spent the evening in that part of town.

I was up early (around 5:00 am) the following morning to get a bus back to Guilin for a flight to Chongqing to begin my adventure down the Yangtze River.

See more of my photos from Yangshuo here.

Other posts about this trip to China:

Yulong River

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.

Stock Photos from 123RF


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