Yangshuo an idyllic town located in Guangxi South China, approximately 3 hours on the bullet train from Shenzhen, the City bordering Hong Kong, but in its own right a vibrant hub of innovation in China being nicknamed the Silicon Valley of Asia. You take the bullet train speeding off at a steady speed of 200km - 300km per hour in a northwest direction. First stopping at the Guangdong capital city Guangzhou and then steadily onwards. It is only when you get to Huizhou about 45 minutes from Yangshuo you get a vision of the landscape. Limestone karst formations stretching into the horizon. It truly is a sight to behold!
Upon arriving in Yangshuo the traveller immediately gets a vibe that this place is a centre for cultural diversity alongside having an eccentric vibe in the air. It reminds me of other similar places I have travelled to like Queenstown or Byron Bay. Where you can’t quite understand why you have an affinity to the place but nonetheless do. Yangshuo County has approximately 300,000 residents scattered amongst an extremely large area which is divided into the main town but more importantly hundreds of small villages in amongst the Karst mountains. What makes Yangshuo special is the 2 rivers which flow through the landscape, the larger Lijiang and the smaller Yulong river. On a summers day you can see many local residents and foreigners frolicking in the rivers cooling off from the 30 plus degree heat.
Yangshuo has a large expat community that has settled here thanks to the laidback lifestyle, alongside multiple activities here to suit almost any individual. You can learn Chinese, practise Tai Qi, cycle in amongst the mountains or rent a motorbike, hike, swim in the rivers, bamboo raft, go caving or climb the limestone cliffs. You truly can craft phenomenal days here!
For the adventurous due to the limestone karst mountains there are hundreds of cave systems, some tourist attractions and some awaiting discovery. But more importantly is the abundance of rock climbing routes both traditional and sport.
Yangshuo and the surrounding villages have over 800 established climbing routes as mentioned in Andrew Hedesh’s Yangshuo Climbing Guide. A quick glimpse through the book you quickly see the quality of bolted routes ranging from beginner to world class. You can even find the hardest established climbing route in China Spicy Dumpling (5.14d) set by Chris Sharma alongside a couple set by Alex Honnold.
Let me craft the perfect day for you: waking up and wandering down to west street and having a coffee alongside a few steamed buns before setting off for the days crag; next you’re on your scooter riding through the mountain landscape on to the crag soaking in the days rays. You have selected a crag set in the shade for the whole day so you're not climbing in stifling heat. You are welcomed at each crag by an array of natives and travellers all sharing beta for the love of climbing and gaining inspiration for your own personal climbs. In amongst snacks and rests throughout the day you get to about 5pm and you head to the nearest river swimming spot. You walk along the river bridge and backflip into the Yulong River, refreshing your senses as you frolic in the water. After an incredible dip and low resistance stretching in the river you dry off amongst conversation before headed to a local restaurant with your friends and new made acquaintances. At a low priced high quality restaurant you can feed 5-6 people for less than $15 even with a local beer each. You then have the predicament as to whether you have a few more beers at a local bar or retreat home to rest and sleep early ready for another day amongst the karst mountains.
Thanks for reading Part 1, Part 2 shall detail more of the area and places to stay.