We made a mistake really, visiting Yangshuo after our trip to the Longji rice terraces. Nothing would ever compare to the stunning scenery of Longji. Yet whilst researching our trip to Longji, it seemed that more people visited the nearby Yangshuo then the stunning rice terraces. The reason why this is I don’t quite know. So what’s the deal with Yangshuo anyway? And what can you do there?
What you can do in Yangshuo
Risk your life cycling on the “country roads”
On our first full day in Yangshuo we hired bikes from our hostel and started cycling towards Moon Hill, famous for being a mountain with a circular shaped hole. After cycling along a flat, picturesque country road for half an hour we reached a busier road – trucks were taking back empty bamboo rafts to begin their cycle again. It was here that we descended down our first incline, only to find out that the brakes on Jonny’s bicycle didn’t work. He ended up going into the back of my bike and falling off his. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt, but he could have been.
Chinese drivers have a reputation for being haphazard – rules and common sense on the roads are not followed and crazy manoeuvres such as overtaking when approaching a sharp bend are common. Even if the brakes had worked on Jonny’s bike it would have felt like a slightly dangerous excursion anyway. The “country roads” are not as quiet as we thought they would be and it was difficult to stop and appreciate the countryside.
Lose your mind on a river cruise
There are many activities to do on the rivers of Yangshuo – bamboo rafting, kayaking, rapids. But rather than doing what I usually do – cajoling Jonny into doing something new and adventurous, I decided that a river cruise would be best. I reasoned that it would give us time to see the beautiful mountains bordering the river and we would get a chance to see the famous scenery on the back of the twenty yuan note. And we only had a day and a half in Yangshuo and I wanted to see as much as possible.
At 8am of our final morning we waited for our taxi to take us to our bus. A phone call arrived just before 8 – the bamboo boats we were supposed to go on weren’t running due to the river being high. Instead we were offered a place on a bigger boat cruise. If you are ever given this option do not do it.
Instead of sharing a small bamboo boat with two other people we endured an hour long “cruise” with forty other tourists on the loudest boats ever. We were sat on tiny wooden benches in the cramped boat and on leaving the docks had to sit through a five minute microphone-enhanced advertisement by the boat’s staff encouraging you to get photos taken by them on the cruise. We weren’t allowed to go on the roof of the boat and the perimeters of the boat were used by the staff to take photos of Chinese tourists holding birds. The birds had their beaks tied shut with string which wasn’t nice to see.
Experience the dreadful West Street
When we first arrived in Yangshuo we headed to the famous West Street. Do you want to see a load of other confused-looking laowai tourists, eat at an overpriced German restaurant and being sold useless tat souvenirs? No? Then avoid West Street.
Was there anything you even liked about Yangshuo?
Yes – our hostel. Situated approximately 4 miles outside of Yangshuo, the hostel was on a quiet street in one the many small villages around Yangshuo. The room was bright and clean, the view from our room was glorious, the hostel staff were so friendly, the hostel food was scrummy and actually, our hostel was the best bit of the Yangshuo trip. So if you have to go Yangshuo, stay at Wada Hostel (the one outside of the centre of Yangshuo!).
All in all, is it worth the trip?
No, not really. Go to the Longji rice terraces instead!