Guilin to Yangshuo

Yangshuo Travel Blog

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We got up and checked out from our hostel. The bus station wasn’t too far away so we wandered over and showed our bus ticket to the helpful staff who pointed us in the right direction. It was easy to find our way, and we ended up getting to the departure gate early. There was a bus just leaving and the driver ushered us over and took us on the earlier departure, which was nice of him.

The journey was short; just over an hour, and the scenery along the way was great. The limestone karsts, just like we saw in Halong Bay, were stunning beside the bright green of the rice fields and the cloudy blue sky.

We were dropped off at the bus station and were shortly approached by low pressure touts asking if we needed a hotel. If you haven’t booked a hotel upon arrival, you will easily find something (the combination of touts and the fact that the hostels are everywhere means you’ll have a home in no time).

The hostel we had booked was only a few minutes walk from the bus station, and on the way there we passed a few more delicious looking “cakeries” with stunning cakes at super cheap prices - no good for my waistline!

Our hostel was tucked away in a small alleyway with a fair amount of steps up to the reception (it appeared that the hostel was actually built on one of the karsts - it even features its own cave!) We dragged ourselves up the steps and waited at reception; from the reviews, we had heard that there was often no-one there when you wanted them, so we were not surprised when there was nobody there. We waited around for a few minutes then Fab went off wandering until he found someone. Moments later we had checked in and were taken to our room.

When we booked, we booked a double room, and the one he showed us was a twin room.

When I explained what we’d booked, he said, while flicking a spider from the bed onto the floor, ”just push the beds together”. He then noticed that the sheets had some kind of dirt on them and got the cleaner to change them. In the meantime, we asked him to show us another room, which smelled damp and looked filthy. We agreed that the first room was best.

We entered the room and put our luggage down before testing to see if we could access the internet. Despite what the ad claimed, there was no wifi in the room (or anywhere in the nearby area it seemed). Fortunately there was a PC outside our room, so we headed out there to take a look at what there was to do in the area. We had just sat down when the owner of the hostel, Mr Li, came over to ask what we were going to do for the next few days.

He went on about the different tours we could do, and that as a special price, he’d sell us three days of activities for only 600 RMB each (£60) instead of 1000RMB (£100).

This was double our budget and we weren’t really fussed about one of the excursions, which involved wandering around a cave (which we had done in Vietnam) followed by a mud bath.

Anyway, we told him we’d think about it, and went back to our room to research and compare prices. My Rough Guide informed me that the Longji rice field excursion was spectacular, but didn’t mention a price, and also said that the river cruise was the highlight of many people’s visit to the province.

We found Mr. Li and asked how much it would cost for just the rice field excursion. Surprisingly, he said to us “I’ll give you the river cruise, rice field trip and a whole day’s bicycle hire for 300RMB each (£30 each for 3 days), and he’d throw in a homecooked breakfast and dinner to seal the deal. At that price, and saving us the trouble of having to organise anything ourselves, we jumped at the chance.

Only £20 per day for both of us including a couple of meals was just fine.

The river cruise was due to leave within the hour, so we hurried out to get some cash to pay for the excursions, grabbed a bottle of drink and waited outside for our minibus to arrive. A couple of Dutch girls were also taking the trip and we chatted to them. They’d been travelling through Asia - from Russia to Mongolia then into China and were continuing through Asia before heading to Africa.

After a bumpy journey through the countryside, we arrived at the bus station where we were met by a nice lady who took us to the riverside where we found our ‘raft’. We grabbed a seat and the next thing we knew we were being driven up the river in a ‘bamboo style’ raft (made of plastic with a really noisy motor). The scenery was very pretty; it looked like Halong Bay, but being closer to the water than in Halong, it was a different experience.


We travelled up the river for about an hour before turning around and going back again. We passed water buffalo, people selling things in small islands in the middle of the river and of course the massive imposing limestone karsts either side of us.
Upon arriving back to shore we wandered around town and enjoyed the local area. We stopped and had some dinner which was nice. The lady at the store couldn’t speak English so none of us ended up with what we wanted. I ordered rice with vegetables and got really spicy noodles. Everyone else also received noodles, but sans spice - people must look at me and think ”she must love spicy food” as I always seem to end up with chilli laced dishes.

I don’t mind it, but having a fire mouth at every meal can be disappointing. Anyway, at 5RMB per meal, we couldn’t grumble. 

After dinner we got back onto a local bus back to town. The journey didn’t take very long and we parted ways with the Dutch girls and wandered around the main street in Yangshuo - West Street, which is a haven of restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, fake designer clothes stores, and food stands. 

It is easy to see why so many people love Yangshuo - it is very touristy - yet quaint and a lovely atmosphere.

No cars or motorcycles are allowed in the street so people just mill about popping in and out of the shops.

We headed back to the hostel for a well deserved rest, ready for an early morning travelling to the Longji rice terraces.

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Yangshuo Hostels review
Great location, but that's about it.
Excellent location, right opposite the main street. The hostel is the cheapest in the area which is the best thing about it. After lots of haggling… read entire review
photo by: sylviandavid