Written by Zoe Stephens
Yangshuo is a small town located in South East China, Guanxi province. For years it’s been on the backpacker’s map due to its remote location, small-town community, and active party life. And it’s still as alive as ever, attracting tourists from around the world, eager to get a piece of the action. With its chilled vibes, clear skies and beautiful scenery, it sets itself aside from many other towns and cities in China. And also makes it one of the best places to go backpacking!
There are lots of different ways to get to Yangshuo, but popular entry points are from Guilin, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, or Guangzhou.
From Guilin: Guilin is the nearest big city to Yangshuo. Transport to and from both places is relatively simple. You can either go by bus or taxi. The bus will cost 20 RMB and take around an hour. A taxi can be around 220 RMB and take around 40-50 minutes. From the bus station, you’ll need to get a taxi to Yangshuo town center, which should only take a few minutes and be relatively cheap.
From Shenzhen: Shenzhen is the border city of Hong Kong. From here, travel may take around a day or more. There are various ways to travel, but the cheapest is via the sleeper bus from Shenzhen to Guilin (around 9 hrs, 160 RMB) and then the bus from Guilin to Yangshuo. Then follow Guilin instructions.
From Hong Kong: Head to Shenzhen via the subway and follow the instructions from there.
From Guangzhou: From here, get the train to Yangshuo station (2.5 hrs, 220 RMB). From Yangshuo station, you’ll need to take either a bus or a taxi to Yangshuo town center, which, inconveniently enough, is around an hour away. The bus should cost 20 RMB.
Where to stay
There’s a range of Airbnbs and hotels to stay in Yangshuo, but if it’s budget and backpackers lifestyle you’re after, Monkey Jane’s grungy youth hostel and roof top bar won’t disappoint. Its rundown charm is not for the faint hearted, but you’ll be sure to meet the best people and be in the most central location in town.
What to do
There are numerous activities to do in Yangshuo, especially on a budget.
- Bike Ride: This is the best way to explore Yangshuo. For less than 100 RMB you can hire a bike for a few days and enjoy the incredible scenery, and spend time outside the town center.
- Swimming: Combine this with an afternoon bike ride, and you have the perfect afternoon! The Yulong river just outside of town is usually clean.
- Climbing: Yangshuo has some of the best climbing spots in the world. Even if you’ve never done it before, it’s a must whilst you’re here.
- Hiking: Whether you want a full day of hiking or just an hour or two, Yangshuo has it all. Climb up Moon Hill or TV Tower for some great views and small hike, or head further out for a day trip.
- River Cruise: So, this is one of the tourist traps in Yangshuo. However, it does look pretty fun and can be very peaceful. If you have some extra time and cash, go for it!
Where to eat & drink
Yangshuo won’t disappoint in its range of bars and restaurants. In fact, you may be a bit overwhelmed and spoilt for choice at first!
If it’s western style food you’re after, Indian restaurant Ganga Impression and western style restaurant The Brew are both frequented by the local expats and promise honest, decent food.
If you’re a fan of Chinese cuisine, there’s dumplings, noodles, and BBQ galore! It’s hard to walk a few steps in the town center without coming across some kind of restaurant or street food.
There is a range of bars and clubs to enjoy in Yangshuo. The main bars include DMZ, Bad Panda, Kaya, and Cheers bar. For a more of a club night, head over to Mojos. All bars are generally located within 2 minutes walking distance from each other, making it super convenient for a big night!
This is probably going to be the most difficult thing about Yangshuo – actually leaving. It’s very easy to get caught up in the chilled out Yangshuo life. Enjoy the days amongst the mountains and rivers is definitely addictive. But- all good things have to come to an end!
How about seeing more of China by taking a different route out than you did on the way in?
Enjoy your trip!