Yángshuò's cacophony of scooters, music, and street stall vendors advertising their wares contrasts with the serene karst peaks and picturesque hiking trails of the region's countryside. This multifarious destination on the Lí River is revered among Chinese nationals and travellers alike for its atmospheric temples, cute cafés and mystical caves. It also has some of the world's best sites for rock climbing and adventurous activities like rafting on bamboo boats.
Hostels in Yángshuò include a place with evening dumpling parties or an eco-friendly property that runs on solar energy. You can stay a little further afield in a Yángshuò hostel with musical instruments – including a didgeridoo and ocarina – and a giant tortoise as a pet. If you'd rather go rural, opt for an old farmhouse from the Qing dynasty, where you can experience a taste of old China.
Explore brightly lit bars and soothing countryside vistas around the town of Yángshuò. You'll find the best souvenir shopping along Xī Jiē, which also has western-style cafés and German beer gardens nearby. Take a break from the hustle and bustle with a walk along the Lí River. There's ancient Chinese architecture, including a vine-covered stone bridge built in 1412, in Yùlóng village, a peaceful spot around 12km away from the centre. Guī Huá Lù is a recently renovated area full of restaurants and bars. Stop here for sundowners and a bowl of noodles on a balcony overlooking a creek.
In Yángshuò you're never far from stunning scenery, climbing routes and natural trails to walk or cycle. You can take bamboo rafts along the Yùlóng River or bigger cruise boats on the Lí. Thrill-seekers can try rafting on the Lóngjǐng rapids or climbing at spots like world-famous Moon Hill with its panoramic views of the countryside. The hiking is also world class here – trek to the top of Xiànggōng Mountain for a memorable sunrise. Cooking classes where you can whip up famous Guilin noodles, and tai chi lessons, offer a taste of traditional China.
The nearest airport is Guìlín Liǎngjiāng International Airport, about 90 minutes away by express bus. You can also get buses from Shēnzhèn (8 hours), Nánníng (6 hours) and Xìngpíng (1 hour). Want to cut down on your journey time? The high-speed train from Shēnzhèn to Guìlín or Xìngpíng takes 3 hours. To get around town, rent a bike or motorbike or take a tour from your hostel. There are taxis in Yángshuò, but they're a little more pricey.