During the planning of our trip through China my boyfriend and I weren’t always agreeing on everything. For example, was Shanghai worth it? Wasn’t it more fun to follow the Chinese Silk Road a little bit further? Questions we didn’t know the answer to. Luckily, there was one thing we agreed on: we were definitely going to Yangshuo. Not because it is such a great city to visit, but because of the beautiful karst mountains surrounding it. These mountains are the face of the 20 Yuan bank note and one of the most well-known sights of China. Because of that, Yangshuo is packed with tourists. Don’t spend too much time in the city centre, but explore the mystic karst mountains surrounding Yangshuo. We explored the mountains by bike, by foot and even by float!
Biking around the unearthly karst mountains
Yangshuo is actually perfect for us Dutchies, because the best way to explore this landscape is by bike. Under the guidance of a local guide (a lovely lady named Lilly) we took a couple of bikes and cruised around for the day. The first part of the route took us through Yangshuo itself. Not a particular pretty part, but I did see some beautiful wall paintings. Soon the route kept on getting better and better. We left the city behind and cycled deeper into the rice fields. I went crazy when I saw my first karst mountain. It was so huge, green and weird! The shape is almost unearthly, I have never seen anything like it.
One of the traditional lake villages along the route
Sailing along the Yulong river on a bamboo float
After a while we traded our bikes for a bamboo float. Lilly had arranged this for us. A lot of tourists take a ride on a float and most of them do this on the busy Li river. Our float crossed the Yulong river. Still touristy, but a little bit more quiet. Our float came with a false singing boatmen who thought he was doing us a favor by singing. Luckily, the scenery was really beautiful and we enjoyed the mountains and water buffalos on the bank. To my disappointment, the boat ride came with a bit of commerce like the many photo stops along the way and the beer sale on the float. Just learn to ignore this and enjoy the amazing landscape.
Climbing the steps to the top of Moon Hill
Time to get a closer look at those karst mountains. Lilly took us to the entrance of the odd-looking Moon Hill. She pointed to the top and said that from there we had a beautiful view on the mountains, rivers and villages. What she didn’t tell us is that we had to climb 1251 steps to get to this view, with the burning sun in our necks. Covered in sweat and out of breath I arrived at the top. The women selling water took one look at my head and quickly used her waver to cool me off. ‘So hot, so hot!’ I let it happen, while my boyfriend found it all hilarious. Luckily the climb was worth it, because the view was absolutely breathtaking. Together with a small group of Chinese teenagers we were the only two westerners at the top, so of course the teenagers seized this not-so-charming-moment to take a selfie with us.
The old water vendor cooling me off
Bonus: having lunch with the locals
While we conquered Moon Hill, our guide Lilly had gone home to prepare us a lunch. She had invited us to her home to eat a local meal. Of course we were happy to come. Unfortunately, the term vegetarian and its meaning is not that well-known in China. Lilly had put tiny pieces of meat through the dishes. Oh well, I ate my way around it. After all, we were guests in her home. Still, it was the perfect ending for a perfect day.
The chairs have a different size in Yangshuo but we managed
Would you want to visit Yangshuo?