Yangshuo is surrounded by karst mountains, winding rivers and beautiful scenery, and it serves as a fantastic base camp for further exploration. More recently, it has been traditionally a backpackers' haven, but Yangshuo now sees a huge influx of domestic tourists. The beautiful scenery here is a common subject of Chinese paintings as well as the inspiration for poetry. There are several popular areas for karst landscape sight-seeing which can be covered by river cruises, bamboo-raft cruises, cycling, trekking and combinations of the various modes. It's wet all year round. Go late spring, or early fall to avoid the heat and humidity of summer and the cold damp of winter.
Mountain scenery from the Li River even graces the twenty Renminbi (Chinese yuan) note. The limestone peaks poke out of the Li valley as if a child had drawn them. Taking in the views of verdant mountains while meandering down the Li River in a tour boat is a wonderful way to kick back and see a part of China that is very different from sprawling metropolis life.
Yangshuo is now a relatively large tourist town, different from most typical Chinese towns, it is relatively air and noise pollution free, (provided you get away from major roadways), very clean and does not usually suffer from endless massive traffic chaos. Lots of things can be done here, and thanks to the exotic karst landscape, the top two activities which will enrich your whole day are bike-riding and rock climbing.
Riding in Yangshuo:
Wandering through the countryside on a bike and getting lost is one of the best things about Yangshuo. The villages often have dramatic mountain backdrops, and the people are generally friendly. Another popular trip is to take a boat ride with a bike, then bicycle back to town.
Renting a bike and taking off into the countryside, with or without a guide, is one popular strategy for exploring the area. There are several places around the main street catering for short-term rentals. Prices stat at ¥20 for a sufficient mountain bike, and can go up to ¥70 for a very high quality one. If you take the cheap option make sure that the brakes and suspension work well.
Beware of robbers who operate on a motorbike and will try to snatch your camera, rucksack or handbag from the basket behind if you leave it open. Try to one that closes and lock it with your bike lock.
Featured karst landscape in Yangshuo makes it a wonderful place for rock climbing lovers. The area around Yangshuo is renowned throughout China, if not the whole world, (even making it into the backdrop of Star Wars Episode 3), for its karst landscape where there are hundreds upon hundreds of limestone hills dotting the countryside. Yangshuo has over 300 climbing routes ranging in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.13. There is a lively climbing scene in town, so experienced climbers will have no problem finding a partner, just ask in the climbing places and they should know other climbing travelers you can hook up with.
The Climbers Inn is most common place to find beta or partners. For beginners and climbers traveling without their own equipment several climbing companies offer equipment rental (¥180 per day for 2 people, July 2013), one/multi-day trips (¥450 for a full day's tuition, July 2013) and places to hang out chatting about potential routes or to find a partner. A guidebook showing route topos, grades, etc. Called the "Yangshuo Climbing Guide" can be purchased from any of the climbing companies.