Xingping also spelled as Xing Ping, is what Yangshuo used to be. Even now when more and more tourist find Yangshuo, it is still a quiet hideout with the exception when the tourist boats from Guilin arrive. It's quite funny because the village is such a nice little one, even nicer located then Yangshuo but with a few disadvantages.
What's the village like? Why would you want to go there? And how do you go there? Questions that will be answered on this page.
As I have lived for awhile in Yangshuo, Xingping is not unknown to me. In fact, I have been there a few times. And every time it surprised me how quiet it still was. The Li River Cruise from Guilin stops here for a moment. At that moment, the village gets a bit busier but most of the time it is still a quiet town surrounded, even closer then Yangshuo by the limestone karst mountains.
The Village Center
Xingping town is small, you can walk around in an hour or so. Although the town is small, it has a long history that goes back at least 500 years. Many of the buildings are traditional from Qing and Ming dynasty period. The market for the surrounding villages is held at every 3 days. Like in many other areas in China, it's a kind of circulating market in the area. On the market days the town is usually quite busy with villagers from the neighboring villages.
The village is surrounded by many spectacular hills with imaginary names as "5 fingers hill" or Sengni Hill that resemble a monk and a nun are bickering with each other. South of town you can find Carp Hill and Snail Hill while in the west there lies Pen Holder Hill and Belle Peak. Around town you will find the village's own Camel Hill, the other Camel Hill is south of Yangshuo.
From my first visit to Xingping I imaged that once when Yangshuo would be become too touristy, Xingping would take over its position as backpackers paradise. However, it never really happened.
Sure, there's a few hotels and a couple of western styled cafe's similar in approach as many in Yangshuo. But it was and still is a little more difficult to reach the village then to reach Yangshuo.
There are two road that lead to the village which is found on the east border of the Li River. Just in case you forgot, Yangshuo is on the west border of the river. Almost all visitors and locals will come from the south. Yangshuo is about 25 km away. And wherever you come from, you have to change your transport in Yangshuo (unless you have your own).
In Yangshuo, at the bus station there are regular mini busses to Xingping available. Most travelers staying in Yangshuo make a day trip but seldom stay in the quiet little town which is a bit sad, the town deserves a little longer stay. Some will drop their bicycles on the roof of the bus for an additional fee and cycle back. Some come back by boat.
There is a direct road from Guilin to Xingping, an old road that few people know and even fewer ever try. It's a little hard to find too, and follows the Li river on the east banks. It swindles through the hills with a few quite nasty climbs. But the scenery is spectacular, there's little traffic and even fewer people living here. The few villages see few tourists passing.
The closer you come to Xing Ping, the more spectacular the scenery becomes. Signs for for example the Lotus Cave start to appear. In the area people are still searching for new caves and rock that can be used for rock climbing.
This road I have traveled now two times, both times from south to north but bicycle. It's a great alternative to travel this road but you will need your own transport. If you decide to take the bicycle, it is about 100km this way. It is easier (and probably even faster) if you go from Guilin over the main road to Yangshuo first and then to Xing Ping. However, it's worth the experience. Read more about the road from Xingping to Guilin
Li River Cruise from Guilin
The Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is very popular, still, even though there are plenty of boats on the river. It seems sometimes there's more boats on the river then cars on the road. The cruise starts just outside Guilin and follows the river all the way south where it stops at the riverbank right in town before it continues to Yangshuo. For the first part of the trip, the boat passes a not very interesting landscape though it is pleasant enough. The further south the boat comes, the more spectacular the limestone mountains are.
Walking around Xingping
These days more and more tourist leave the town and explore the area north of Xing Ping. You can do a great hike north of the village in a few hours but some decide to stay a night in the village. The hike basically goes out north of the village. There's a clear sign and you follow along the riverside. You can cross and walk further to Shanglong or simply continue to the tiny village Langshi. There are boats nearby to bring you Yangdi (entrance Y16) from where you can take a bus back to Yangshuo.
It's a pleasant and easy hike, which takes 3 to 4 hours depending how fast you walk and how many boats there are available to bring you over to the other riverbank.
Shopping in Xingping
Apart of the usual souvenir shops you can find some amazingly good art shops in Xingping. If you are lucky you will find aspirant artists at work in the streets or at the dock. However, opposite of the old (now closed) temple, you will find an amazing art shop. All painting are made by local artists and of excellent quality. Here's some examples
Hotels and restaurants
Xingping has a few basic hotels including: This Old Place and Kelly's Guesthouse.
This Old Place is associated with the International Youth Hostel Federation the hotel is an excellent option with clean rooms with bathroom and balcony. And Leo and his wife are sweet people who will make you feel at home.
Kelly's Guesthouse is located in a quiet street a minute from other restaurants and the Xingping jetti. It's a small cozy place with a restaurant. Rooms are spacious with large windows and good views over the town and surroundings.
Maps of Xingping
A map of village center I don't have. I am not even sure if it exists. As the village is so small, you don't need a map too. A map of Xingping's surrounding however, is very useful. I went digging into my archives and found a good overview map. Have a look here for the Li River, all the villages and the paths to Caoping town.
If you are going to stay in Xingping, Leo from This Old Place will be an excellent source of information and he is able to help you out organizing rock climbing, hiking, rafting and other adventures.
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Kelly's Guesthouse in Xingping
In 2011, Kelly opened her own guesthouse in Xingping. In my humble opinion? She did a great job. I can recommend staying here:
This Old Place
By far the nicest and coziest place to stay, This Old Place is not so old but has excellent rooms and a pleasant atmosphere. If you want to stay in Xingping, this is your single best option
River Cruise to Xingping
Few places in the world become so spectacular as the limestone mountains area of Xingping and Yangshuo. And a river cruise is one of those excellent ways to experience it.
Bicycling to Xingping
There are two way to cycle to Xingping, one takes the main road via Fuli. Another more attractive road is seldom used. Here's what it looks like:
Do go to Xingping!!!
Michael Gondek and Leslee Klein went to Xingping. They loved it! Here's what they experienced
Map of Xingping
Check this page of a close up of Xingping and the surrounding of the little village
Xingping to Guilin
This is one of the other hidden secrets of the Yangshuo/Xingping area. The road is about 70 km and seldom traveled due to the lack of public transport. It's a kind of hidden treasure and an excellent opportunity to leave the main roads behind.