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Things to Do in Yangshuo | 15 Best Things to Do in Yangshuo, Guilin

Written by Senior Expert Catherine Liu|Updated: 2024-06-03

"Guilin's landscape is the best under heaven," so the ancient saying goes. But within the vast expanse of Guilin, where does one find its most captivating vistas? The answer lies in Yangshuo. The beauty and cultural richness of Yangshuo's landscapes stands as the pinnacle of what Guilin has to offer, drawing countless travelers to experience and admire its wonders. Then, what to do in Yangshuo? 

As locals from Guilin, we've crafted the travel guide, “15 Best Things to Do in Yangshuo,” to give you an insider's perspective on Yangshuo. This guide not only spotlights the must-see sights and top activities but also unveils hidden gems and unique activities typically off the radar for most tourists. In Yangshuo, the awe-inspiring natural beauty is just the tip of the iceberg. We go beyond the obvious to explore the unique karst geological landscapes, uncover hidden gems, embrace new pastoral life, and deeply immerse ourselves in the local culture. The hallmark of our guide is its comprehensiveness and attention to detail and with added practical travel tips. It encompasses everything: from breathtaking landscapes and cultural experiences to thrilling outdoor adventures. Whether you're in search of adventure, captivated by nature, eager for cultural immersion, or traveling with family, this guide caters to all. In essence, for the ultimate Yangshuo, Guilin experience, this guide is indispensable.

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  • triangleNo.1 Take a 4-hour Li River Cruise
  • triangleNo.2 Take a Bamboo Raft along the Yulong River
  • triangleNo.3 Visit Xingping Town and the Scenic Surrounding Area
  • triangleNo.4 Bike or E-bike Through Yangshuo's Countryside
  • triangleNo.5 Dive into Nature with Yangshuo Hiking Trails
  • triangleNo.6 Go Climbing Moon Hill
  • triangleNo.7 Challenge Rock Climbing & Via Ferrata in Yangshuo
  • triangleN0.9 Glide Along the Yulong River on SUP
  • triangleNo.10 Kayaking Through the Karsts Landscape
  • triangleNo.11 Enjoy Impression Liu Sanjie Show
  • triangleNo.12 Learn Cooking Local Cuisine in Yangshuo
  • triangleNo.13 Make and Paint a Traditional Paper Fan in Fuli
  • triangleNo.14 Watch Cormorant Fishing on the Li River
  • triangleNo. 15 Stroll Along West Street
  • triangleHow to Plan a Yangshuo Tour?
  • triangleExplore Guilin/Yangshuo with Asia Odyssey Travel

Best Things in Yangshuo: Experience the Enchanting Li River

The Li River is not just a waterway; it's the very essence of Yangshuo. As it winds its way from Guilin to Yangshuo, the river meanders past limestone karst peaks that rise dramatically from the water, their shapes often obscured by the mists that lend the landscape an otherworldly aura. Over the centuries, it has been a muse for poets, painters, and dreamers, inspiring countless works of art with its ethereal beauty.

No.1 Take a 4-hour Li River Cruise

One of the must-do things in Yangshuo is to take a 3/4-star Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, which takes about 4-5 hours. It is often described as a journey through a classic Chinese scroll painting. Imagine standing on the deck, with the stunning Li River in front of you, giant Karst peaks rising in the distance, and scenes of daily life playing out on the riverbanks.

As the cruise sails, your eyes will feast on famous sights along the banks, such as the unique rock formation called Immortal Pushing the Mill that resembles an immortal being pushing a giant grinding wheel; the captivating figure of Nine-Horse Fresco Hill, resembling nine horses in various poses; the reflective beauty of Yellow Cloth Shoal, which looks like a piece of yellow cloth and the image inspired 20 RMB note and many more. Journeying further, you'll also encounter traditional villages like Yangdi and Xingping nestled along the river and witness a tableau of life as it has been lived for centuries. Fishermen with their cormorants stand on bamboo rafts, casting their nets in a dance as old as time. On the riverbanks, water buffaloes wade into the shallows, and farmers tend to their crops, seemingly unperturbed by the passage of time. The cruise terminates in the idyllic town of Yangshuo .

Recommended Visiting Time: about 4 hours

Suitable for: All travelers, especially families and seniors who want to enjoy the Li River scenery in a relaxed and comfortable manner without missing any of the captivating sights.

Useful Tips: The price of the cruise depends on whether you choose a three-star or four-star cruise, with prices ranging from 215 to 480 yuan. You can select a suitable cruise based on your preferences and budget.

Li River Cruise
Li River Cruise
Li River Cruise
Li River Cruise

No.2 Take a Bamboo Raft along the Yulong River

The bamboo rafting experience on the Yulong River is a top thing that offers a tranquil way to immerse yourself in Yangshuo's landscapes. The Yulong River, also referred to as "Little Li River," is one of the most pristine and tranquil tributaries of the Li River in the heart of Yangshuo. With its water reminiscent of emerald-green jade, it exudes an ethereal clarity that reflects the verdant surroundings.

Picture this: You're seated on a handcrafted bamboo raft, with the rhythmic sound of water gently lapping around you. The world seems to slow down as you float past dense bamboo groves and vibrant rice paddies. Every now and then, an old stone bridge, a testament to centuries of history, arches gracefully over the water, framing idyllic scenes of local life. Farmers working in the fields, children playing by the banks, and the distant silhouette of mist-covered karst mountains complete this picturesque panorama. But it's not all calm! The occasional presence of small dams adds a touch of thrill. As your raft descends these gentle rapids, you'll be greeted with playful splashes, a refreshing contrast to the otherwise tranquil journey.

Recommended Visiting Time: 50 minutes to 1.5 hours

Suitable for: Nature lovers seeking a tranquil and immersive experience

Useful Tips: There are various raft routes available, ranging from 50 minutes to 1.5 hours. The most popular route is from Jinnong Bridge to Jiuxian, with a total duration of approximately 1.5 hours that lets you see a lot of beautiful spots and passes through nine dams.

 

Bamboo Raft along the Yulong River
Bamboo Raft Along the Yulong River
Bamboo Raft along the Yulong River
A Bamboo Raft Passing the Dam

No.3 Visit Xingping Town and the Scenic Surrounding Area

Xingping Town, often cited as the most picturesque town along the Li River, is an essential destination for those visiting Yangshuo. The town is also famous for its spectacular attractions along the Li Rive, including the Nine Horses Mural, the Yellow Cloth Shoal, the scene depicted on the 20-yuan banknote and its ancient street and primeval fishing village.

Xingping offers a variety of activities to engage in. You can embark on a 1.5-hour bamboo rafting journey between Yangdi and Xingping, immersing yourself in the essence of the Li River. Unlike panoramic river cruises, Li River bamboo rafting provides a unique and up-close experience to appreciate the river's beauty. For panoramic views of the Li River and Xingping Town, climb to hilltops like Xianggong Mountain. Xingping also offers several vantage points to witness breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, such as Laozhai Mountain. Take a scenic hike or bike ride along the riverbank to see many beautiful attractions, including the landscape that inspired the back of the 20 RMB note and the age-old tradition of cormorant fishing. Stroll down Xingping's historical old streets to witness preserved ancient architecture and experience local culture,

Recommended Visiting Time: half day to a full day

Suitable for: History enthusiasts, nature lovers, and photography who looking to the best photographic angle.

Useful Tips: If you love taking photos, Xingping is a dream. It's one of the best spots in Guilin for photographers. So, bring your camera and find the perfect shot!

Xianggong Mountain
Xianggong Mountain for panoramic views of the Li River Mountain
The scene depicted on the 20-yuan banknote
The scene depicted on the 20-yuan banknote

Must-do Things in Yangshuo: Explore Yangshuo's Countryside

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Yangshuo is renowned for its tranquil countryside ambiance. The picturesque countryside features serene rice paddies, quaint farming villages, winding rivers, and iconic limestone karst hills that dramatically jut into the sky. This unique rural landscape has attracted countless visitors who come to explore, cycle, hike, and drift, gradually turning it into a popular destination for outdoor activities.

No.4 Bike or E-bike Through Yangshuo's Countryside

Biking could be one of the best outdoor activities in Yangshuo to explore this rural paradise. You can either hop on a bike or rent a sidecar (optional) to explore the postcard-like karst hills and rice paddies and pass by some tranquil villages. Let all the picturesque scenes please your eyes and your souls to the maximum for total relaxation. During your ride, the scenery keeps changing, yet it remains consistently mesmerizing. The karst mountains rise and fall in an endless series, each peak unique in its shape and size. At various points, you might also spot locals engaging in their daily chores, farmers tending to their fields, or even children playing along the riverbanks. Dotting the riverbanks are quaint stone houses, their grey slate roofs offering a delightful contrast against the verdant surroundings. There's a solitary water buffalo languidly grazing in the fields, a sight that adds an endearing touch of rural life to the panoramic display.

Recommended Visiting Time: 1 to 3 hours

Suitable for: Adventurers, families, and those keen on experiencing rural life.

Useful Tips: Rental services are available at Yangshuo West Street. There are many cycling tracks in Yangshuo, ranging from very relaxing to very adventurous depending on your needs, of which the most classic one is the Ten-Li Gallery area.

Yangshuo Countryside Tours
Cycling Through Yangshuo's Countryside
Ride a Sidecar Through Yangshuo's Countryside
Ride a Sidecar Through Yangshuo's Countryside

No.5 Dive into Nature with Yangshuo Hiking Trails

For those who prefer to explore on foot, hiking in Yangshuo offers numerous trails that take you right into the heart of its picturesque landscapes. Whether you're walking along the Yulong River or Li River, trekking up to a mountain viewpoint, or wandering through local villages, the beauty of Yangshuo is all the more mesmerizing when experienced up close.

1. Yulong River Hike: It is the most popular hiking route in Yangshuo. You can walk the full length of the river or choose a section to hike. The most popular hiking section is from Yulong Bridge (遇龙桥) to Gongnong Bridge (工农桥). This section is also a very popular rafting tour. You'll often see bamboo rafts gliding effortlessly on the river, painting a serene picture of life in Yangshuo.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.Duration: 3-4 hours, varying with your chosen pace and frequency of stops.

2. Ten-Mile Gallery Hike: This trail is perfect for those who prefer easy hiking. It’s named the "Ten Mile Gallery" due to its picturesque landscapes that seem straight out of a painting. Passing through lush green fields, traditional villages, and with views of the majestic Moon Hill in the distance, it’s a feast for the eyes.

Difficulty: EasyDuration: 2-3 hours, varying with your chosen pace and frequency of stops.

3. Li River Hike (Yangdi to Xingping): This is the highlight of the entire Li River hiking trail. This trail offers breathtaking views of the Li River, towering karst peaks, the Nine Horses Mural Hill, and the reflection of Yellow Cloth Shoal.

Difficulty: Difficulty, the entire route covers approximately 18 kilometersDuration: 5-6 hours, varying with your chosen pace and frequency of stops.

Hike a Mountain near Li River
Exploring the Majestic Mountains near the Li River through Hiking
Hike Along Yulong River
Hike Along the Yulong River

No.6 Go Climbing Moon Hill

Moon Hill is one of Yangshuo 's most iconic landmarks. As the name suggests, it's famed for its crescent moon-shaped hole, which offers a unique silhouette against the sky. A hike up to the top not only rewards you with close-up views of the 'moon', but also panoramic vistas of the surrounding karst landscapes.

Recommended Visiting Time: 1 to 2 hours

Suitable for: Adventure seekers, photography lovers, and anyone looking for a great view.

Useful Tips: The climb can be steep in parts, so wear good hiking shoes. It's also advised to start the hike early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat.

Moon Hill
Moon Hill
Moon Hill
Moon Hill

Unique Activities in Yangshuo: Outdoor Adventures

You might've heard of the calming Li River Cruise in Guilin and Yangshuo, or maybe daydreamed about gentle bike rides amidst the countryside and the joy of floating on bamboo rafts along the Yulong River. Well, guess what? That's just the start of the fun in Yangshuo! Tucked away where the Nanling Mountains meet the Xijiang River System in Guangxi, Yangshuo boasts some truly mesmerizing karst landscapes and rivers. For those who love the outdoors, it's a playground waiting to be explored. With so many outdoor activities sparked by Yangshuo's natural beauty, it's become an absolute paradise for adventure seekers like us. Come, let's dive in!

No.7 Challenge Rock Climbing & Via Ferrata in Yangshuo

With its dramatic limestone karst formations, Yangshuo has undoubtedly become the Mecca of climbers. Yangshuo has hosted international climbing festivals and competitions for many years and has attracted rock climbers from all over the world who travel thousands of miles to experience the style of Yangshuo's rock. With over 700 routes that cater to both beginners and seasoned climbers, there's a challenge for every level. Don't worry if you don't have professional rock climbing training; your coach will teach you the basic skills on-site and climb with you.

If you're a beginner or with children, we recommend trying Via Ferrata. It's a protected climbing route where a climber is secured to a steel cable that runs along the route. Climbers can progress along the route using iron steps, ladders, and bridges. It’s designed to give non-climbers the experience of climbing without the risks associated with free climbing. Whether you're interested in the raw challenge of rock climbing or the guided thrill of via Ferrata, Yangshuo offers a backdrop like no other.

Recommended Visiting Time: 2 hours

Suitable for: Fit adults and children ≥7 years old kids

Useful Tips: The best times for climbing are during spring and autumn when the weather is mild. Summers can be quite hot and humid, while winters are cold but climbable.

Rock Climbing in Yangshuo
Rock Climbing in Yangshuo
Via Ferrata in Yangshuo
Via Ferrata in Yangshuo

N0.9 Glide Along the Yulong River on SUP

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is an increasingly popular activity in Yangshuo due to its ease of operation and pure enjoyment. As you glide over the calm waters of the Yulong River, you'll have an unobstructed 360-degree view of the stunning landscapes that surround you. SUP provides a peaceful yet active way to take in the scenery, allowing you to try paddling while lying down, kneeling, standing, or sitting on the board. For the adventurous, even some yoga poses can be attempted! If you're new to SUP, don't worry. Our seasoned guides will provide essential safety training and ensure that you're equipped with the right gear. We'll take you to the best area of the river to avoid the crowds and boats.

Recommended Visiting Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

Suitable for: Adventure seekers, families, and individuals looking for a unique water activity.

Useful Tips: Wear clothes that you won't mind getting wet. Bringing a change of dry clothes and shoes afterward is a smart choice.

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) in Yangshuo
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) in Yangshuo
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) in Yangshuo
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) in Yangshuo

No.10 Kayaking Through the Karsts Landscape

For a more invigorating experience on the water, kayaking offers the perfect blend of adventure and scenic appreciation. Kayaking lets you navigate the waters at your pace, explore hidden nooks and crannies, and get up close to the limestone karsts. As you paddle, the reflections of the mountains in the crystal-clear water and the gentle sound of your oar breaking the surface create an unforgettable ambiance. All your equipment will be provided, and your guide will tell you safety fundamentals, and give you instructions on paddling. Beginners can opt for tandem kayaks.

Recommended Visiting Time: 2 to 3 hours

Suitable for: Adventure enthusiasts and families.

Useful Tips: Safety first! Always don a life vest, irrespective of your swimming prowess.

Kayaking in Yangshuo
Kayaking in Yangshuo
Kayaking in Yangshuo
Kayaking in Yangshuo

Cultural Experiences in Yangshuo:Dive into the Local Culture

Yangshuo , beyond its stunning natural landscapes, holds a rich tapestry of cultural experiences that transport visitors back in time, offering a glimpse into China's age-old traditions and practices.

No.11 Enjoy Impression Liu Sanjie Show

This grand outdoor performance is more than just a show—it's an experience. Set against the backdrop of the Li River and karst mountains, the Impression Liu Sanjie brings to life a local love story through mesmerizing light shows, music, and dance. The scale of the performance is unmatched, making it a must-visit when in Yangshuo.

Recommended Visiting Time: 70 minutes

Suitable for: Families, culture enthusiasts

Impression Liu Sanjie Show
Impression Liu Sanjie Show
Impression Liu Sanjie Show
Impression Liu Sanjie Show

No.12 Learn Cooking Local Cuisine in Yangshuo

Immerse yourself in the authentic flavors of Yangshuo with a unique cooking class experience. Dive into a hands-on cooking class taught by local chefs. From sourcing ingredients at bustling markets to mastering traditional cooking techniques, you'll leave with a deeper appreciation for Chinese cuisine and a few recipes up your sleeve!

Recommended Visiting Time: 3 hours

Suitable for: Food enthusiasts, families and travelers keen on a hands-on cultural experience.

Useful Tips: Wear clothes that you won't mind getting wet. Bringing a change of dry clothes and shoes afterward is a smart choice.

Cooking Class in Yangshuo
Cooking Class in Yangshuo
Cooking Class in Yangshuo
Cooking Class in Yangshuo

No.13 Make and Paint a Traditional Paper Fan in Fuli

Fuli, a charming ancient town near  Yangshuo, is renowned for its centuries-old tradition of hand-painted fans. Engage in a hands-on workshop where you'll craft your very own fan. Guided by local artisans, learn the intricate techniques of brushwork and the significance behind each design. Not only will you leave with a unique souvenir, but you'll also carry a piece of Fuli's rich heritage.

Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours

Suitable for: Art enthusiasts, families, and travelers looking to connect with local traditions.

Fuli Paper Fan
Fuli Paper Fan
Paint a Traditional Paper Fan in Fuli
Paint a Traditional Paper Fan in Fuli

No.14 Watch Cormorant Fishing on the Li River

See an old way of fishing on the Li River where birds catch fish for their owners. These birds, called cormorants, dive into the water, grab a fish, and then give it to the fisherman on a bamboo boat. After catching a big fish, the fisherman gives the bird a smaller fish as a thank you. While this tradition may no longer be practical, it is maintained to preserve cultural heritage and offer an unforgettable experience to visitors.

As the sun sets over the Li River, the scene is illuminated by the warm glow of the lanterns, creating a captivating tableau called "Li River Fish Fire. The shimmering waters, the silhouette of the fishermen, and the graceful cormorants against the backdrop of the karst mountains come together to paint a picture of serene harmony for photographers.

Recommended Visiting Time: 1 hour

Suitable for: Nature lovers, families, and photographers

Cormorant Fishing
Cormorant Fishing
Li River Fish Fire
Li River Fish Fire

No. 15 Stroll Along West Street

Stroll along West Street, which is the most prosperous area inYangshuo . Restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops along the street are always full of guests. It is a fusion of Western culture and Chinese culture and it is the best place to spend your nightlife here. As you walk, you'll hear a mix of Chinese and foreign languages, showcasing its popularity among travelers. Whether you want to enjoy a cup of coffee, taste some local food or just throw yourself into the vivid atmosphere... all you can get.

Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours

Suitable for: Everyone, especially those who love shopping and trying different foods.

West Street
West Street
West Street
West Street

How to Plan a Yangshuo Tour?

Travelers can get a taste of  Yangshuo in a day or two, a longer stay will allow for a richer, more immersive experience. The duration of your Yangshuo trip largely depends on the activities and experiences you want to indulge in.

Short Trip (1-2 days): Ideal for travelers passing through or those with tight schedules. You can cover major highlights like the Li River Cruise, a stroll down West Street, and some classic outdoor activities like bamboo rafting or biking through the countryside, and cultural performances like the Impression Liu Sanjie show.

Medium Trip (3-4 days): Perfect for those who want a deeper exploration. You can engage in more exciting outdoor activities such as rock climbing & via ferrata, exploring caves, stand up paddleboarding, etc. This duration also allows for a more relaxed pace and the possibility to dive deeper into the local culture, maybe through a cooking class or a traditional craft workshop.

Long Trip (5 days or more): For those truly looking to immerse themselves in all that Yangshuo has to offer. This duration gives you ample time to engage in multiple outdoor activities, explore hidden gems, and even take day trips to nearby villages or nearby towns like Xingping. It's a great choice if you're looking to unwind, connect with nature, and get a comprehensive experience of the region.

Explore Guilin/Yangshuo with Asia Odyssey Travel

Based in China, with our office conveniently located in Guilin, the local team at Asia Odyssey Travel is dedicated to providing exceptional service to ensure an unforgettable experience for those who visit this beautiful Guilin. We offer a variety of carefully designed Guilin tours, including Classic Guilin Tours, Li River Tours, Yangshuo Tours, and Longji Rice Terraces Tours, tailored to meet your needs and desires. Whether you prefer a private tour with a flexible itinerary or a small group tour without compromising on quality, Asia Odyssey Travel has the perfect tour for you, ensuring that your journey to Guilin is a worry-free vacation.

If you're looking to extend your stay in Guilin into a longer vacation, Asia Odyssey Travel also offers a range of inspiring ideas through China Tour Packages with Guilin. Our professional travel consultants are ready to assist you in customizing a tailor-made Guilin Tour at the best local price. Don't hesitate to contact us to start planning your dream trip to Guilin today!

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