“Yangshuo activities: Biking, hiking, swimming and rafting, I loved it all!”
There’s plenty to do these days in Yangshuo. Yangshuo activities traditionally were centered around bicycling in the beautiful scenery and hang out at night in one of the many western styled cafes.So, what kind of activities can you do in Yangshuo? Do I have to book them? Do I need to bring my own bicycle? Is it dangerous? Let’s see what there is to do.
- Boat cruises
- Cormorant fishing
- Liu Sanjie show in Yangshuo
- Kayaking from Fuli to Liugong or to Puyi
- Green Lotus Peak
- Yulong river swimming
- Li river swimming
- Longer bike rides
- Rock Climbing
Of all the activities in Yangshuo rafting on the Yulong river is probably the most essential. There can be little discussion about it. Haven’t done the rafting, haven’t seen Yangshuo! Yes, I would go that far. You wouldn’t go to Beijing and skip the Forbidden City? Or go to Paris and forget the Eiffel Tower, Cambodia and leave Angkor beside? You wouldn’t. And so is the bamboo rafting trip on the Yulong river. How, where, what and how much, you can read at the rafting at the Yulong river page. It’s apart of cycling my favorite of all Yangshuo activities!
Boat cruises including the Li River Park
There are several really interesting boat trips to do in and around Yangshuo. The part in between Yangdi and Xingping has been renamed the Li River Park
- Guilin (Zhujiang Wharf) to Yangshuo (about 4-5 hours depending on the water level)
- Yangdi to Xingping (1 1/2 hours)
- Yangdi to Nine Horse Fresco Hill and Xingping (1 1/2 hours)(
- Xingping to and fro Nine Horse Hill (1 hour)
- Yangshuo – Puyi (half day)
The Guilin Yangshuo river cruise is by far the most popular cruise. During the day time in high season it’s a long row of cruise boats. Although the scenery is still spectacular, I feel the beauty is much more appreciated in the early morning when it’s serene quiet.
Yangshuo-Puyi is another river cruise which gets hardly attention. This is a shame as it shows another beautiful part of the Li River. You can arrange a raft in Yangshuo to see the first part of the river in the direction of Flui but thepart after Fuli is just as beautiful. Our 1 day Pudi tour takes you on that part of the river.
More details about our One Day Pudi/Countryside tour which many consider the highlight of their China journey.
Not interested in either the Guilin – Yangshuo cruise or Yangdi – Xingping but you still want to see the Li River on the water? You can take a boat in Xingping to andfro to Nine Horse Frescohill, which takes about an hour and a half. This trip will alsoshow you a truly spectacular part of the Li River Park.
More about river cruises in and around Yangshuo
More details about the river cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo
More details about the river cruise from Yangdi to Xingping
More details about the river cruise from Yangshuo – Puyi
Traditionally the most visited rock formation around Yangshuo, Moonhill is located a few kilometers south of the Yangshuo town center and a must see place.
Get a bicycle and cycle along the main road south. After a few kilometers you will see Moonhill from the roadside. You can climb up and shoot a few photos. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes (depending on your physical condition to climb up. Views are quite spectacular from inside Moonhill.
Of all the possible Yangshuo activities I love cycling the best. Getting around in the area of Yangshuo to see some of the spectacular landscape is best done on bicycle. No, not because I like cycling a lot but because it is the easiest way to go around. Motorbikes are in some areas less practical as the paths through the paddi fields are not always suitable for motorbikes.
There are two ways to start cycling around. You can get free maps in town or you get a local guide. If you have limited time, a guide is worth. There are many guides available. My recommendation is Jessie Lu, a local girl who speaks not only excellent English but has a vast knowledge of the area and will be able to help you out with other things to organize. You can get in touch with here by filling in this form.
The typical Limestone mountains have carved out a series of caves. Some are more accessible then others. The Silver Cave, Buddha Cave, Water Cave, Butterfly Springs and Dragon Cave are some of the more accessible and easy to access of them.
Of the Yangshuo activities, cormorant fishing is one of the few nighttime events. Some fishermen go out at night with a few cormorants. Go with them on a boat and see how this phenomenon works.See more about of the Yangshuo cormorant fishing and more photos.
Liu Sanjie lightshow in Yangshuo
A few years ago this show started just outside Yangshuo town. From the beginning on it was a huge success and not for nothing. It’s now one of the main Yangshuo activities and an absolute must to see.
The show is very spectacular. It is directed by movie director Zhang Yimou and is performed by local villagers and fishermen, particularly local minority groups as Zhuang and Yao.
Zhang Yimou makes use of the natural resources which make the spectator realize how beautiful Yangshuo is.
And we have a whole lot more photos on this page
Kayaking from Fuli to Liugong or to Puyi
Kayaking give you a complete different view over the limestone mountains. With a guide and at least 2 people you will explore an area around Yangshuo which is not visited much. The cruises don’t come here and few take a bicycle to visit this area as the roads and paths are not in the best condition.
Green Lotus Peak
The most prominent rock formation in Yangshuo town center is without a doubt the Green Lotus Peak. Located behind West Street, it’s a peak hard to miss. However, not that many people pay attention. The hefty Y30 entrance ticket is part of the reason. The peak however has a long and turbulent history.
Yulong river swimming
I love swimming, one of the reasons I live nearby the sea. Of the Yangshuo activities swimming is not a hot thing number 1. However, it is great swimming in the Yu Long river. With little current and no deep water it is a safe place. Go in the direction of Moonhill. Before the bridge go right and follow the dirt path to the Li River Retreat.
Caution with swimming, make sure you stay in the calm water and do not go in the fast water streams. Accidents do happen only with people who do not take care.
Li River swimming
You got to do everything once in your life, swimming in the Li River is not recommended if you are not a good swimmer. There’s quite a bit of current and you can’t go far in the water. Local kids play here. Beware also for boats. Not recommended. The Yulong river is a much better, safer and cleaner place.
Xingping is a little village about 20 km north on the east bank of the Li River. You can go there by bus, boat and bicycle. A popular way to visit the village is to cycle to Xingping and take the boat back. Xingping is a must to visit, try not to come when the cruise boats from Guilin arrive.
Longer bike rides
If you are into cycling like me, then there’s good news. There are some little visited areas around Yangshuo where few people go. I have set up a few possible routes I have done in the past and which I can recommend. Again, if you feel you need a guide, please contact Jessie.
You may want to read some of my own stories about traveling and cycling in and to China, Guilin and Yangshuo.Read some of them here.
If Shangri-La Guilin is really worth the effort is disputable, especially if you visit Longsheng and Sanjiang. It is a nice way to explore a little of the minority culture north of Guilin and in Guizhou (primarily Dong and Miao though there are others).
Did I like it? It was OK, but I preferred Longsheng, Sanjiang and Zhaoxing. That said, if you don’t have the time and you still would like to see some of the minorities in this part of China it’s probably worth the effort.
Of all Yangshuo activities rock climbing is probably the most spectacular to do. There are good rock climbing’s to do around Yangshuo, Around West Street you can find a few good rock climbing shops with professional guides and equipment. I can not recommend one as I never done any rock climbing, I guess it was always about fear of falling down:) I guess. However, people who done it were very enthusiastic about. If this is your kind of fun, there’s good peaks to climb.
Although walking is maybe not the most popular of the Yangshuo activities, it certainly can bring you to a few difficult to reach places and spectacular areas few people visit. You can get a guide (though usually they are not keen on walking) or get a detailed map and find your way around.
Or you simply follow my instructions on this really nice little hike, which takes about 4 hours in an almost empty piece of land.
The main road is never too far and you will be able to find a bus back to Yangshuo town.
Fuli, 8km east of Yangshuo is a small market town. You may want to visit the town at market days on your way to Xingping. Apart of the market people usually come here to board their kayak for drifting to either Liugong or Puyi. There’s not a lot more that keep you busy.
Not enough? West and south of Yangshuo are two less visited cities worth to visit if you have time: Liuzhou an Hechi. But most visited apart of Yangshuo in this part of China areLongsheng, Sanjiang and Zhaoxing with their rice terraces, Dong villages, Drum Towers and Wind and Rain Bridges. AndJessie can organize trips to all these places.