72 Hours in Guilin (Part Three) Posted by sasha on Nov 28, 2017 in Culture
It’s been an action packed couple of days in Guilin and Yangshuo, full of local parks, delicious food, cycling, rock climbing, and more. On the third and final day, it’s time to sit back and relax a bit, as you take in the legendary scenery from the comfort of a bamboo raft. Let’s see what else is on tap for the home stretch of our 72 hours in Guilin.
Li River Cruise
The scenery of the Li River (漓江 – lí jiāng) is the real reason that people describe Guilin as one of the most beautiful places in China. Taking a cruise up the river on a bamboo raft is an experience not to be missed. Sure, there are plenty of other tourists around, but that doesn’t detract one bit from the natural beauty of this area.
zhè lǐ de fēng jǐng fēi cháng yǒu míng
The scenery here is very famous.
As Han Yu (a Tang Dynasty poet) once wrote, “The river forms a green gauze belt, the mountains are like jade hairpins.” In fact, the scenery of the Li River is known all across China, as it was the inspiration for the back of the 20 yuan note. Make sure you have one ready for the awesome photo opp you’ll be presented with.
qí mó tuō chē zài yáng shuò hěn hǎo wán
Riding a motorbike in Yangshuo is very fun.
Cycling is great and all, but the area around Yangshuo is quite hilly, which makes for an incredibly tiring day. That’s all changed, though, with the recent addition of motorbikes for rent. There are very few places you can rent motorbikes as a tourist in China, so definitely take advantage of this. In my 6 years of living and traveling in China, I only saw motorbikes for rent in Yangshuo and Dali. Spend an afternoon cruising around, stopping at some incredible viewpoints.
If you’re up for a bit more physical activity, you can stop at the Moon Hill (月亮山 – yuè liàng shān). Climb to the top and enjoy the amazing panoramic views. Try to time your visit away from the tour groups, as the experience won’t be quite as enjoyable if you’re sharing it with 50+ tourists and their selfie sticks. If you see a large bus pulling up, hang out in a nearby restaurant for a bit until they take off.
In the evening, you can head out on a short boat ride to see cormorant fishing (鸬鹚捕鱼 – lú cí bǔ yú) up close. You may have seen this unique style of fishing on an episode of BBC’s “Wild China.” If not, take a quick look at this clip:
This traditional method of fishing using cormorants rather than a rod has been around since 960 AD in China and Japan. A snare is tied around the bird’s throat to prevent them from swallowing the fish. Once they cough them up, they’re rewarded with a snack. These days, cormorant fishing in Yangshuo is basically just a show for tourists. Even though it’s super touristy, it’s pretty interesting and something you won’t see anywhere else.
wǎn shàng de shí hòu xī jiē hěn rè nào
West Street is very lively in the evening.
At night, the West Street (西街 – xī jiē) in the center of town comes alive and is illuminated in a sea of lazer pointers. It’s very “hot and noisy” (热闹 – rè nào – lit. “lively”) with hordes of tourists perusing the countless vendors, street performers, shops, and bars that line the street. Make your way through the sea of people and munch on some street food or pick one of the many restaurants. There are plenty of places to grab a drink as well, where you’ll surely be encouraged by calls of “Cheers!” (干杯 – gān bēi) from Chinese tourists eager to booze it up with a lao wai.
Sure, there are huge crowds of tourists in Yangshuo and it is very much on the beaten path these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. Based on that logic, would you also skip Beijing or Shanghai on a China trip? Probably not. Get yourself some wheels, base yourself outside of town, and party on the roof to ensure you still have an awesome time in Yangshuo. That wraps up our 72 hours in Guilin. If you actually have a visa and can afford to spend an extra day or two in this part of China, be sure to check out the Longji rice terraces. It’s an amazing place to hike and relax after the wild adventures in Yangshuo.
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