After you’ve had your fill of Guilin’s honking cars, it’s time to escape 20km south to the backpacker focused town of Yangshuo. The town has been carefully preserved by the government to retain its high tourist appeal. For example buildings cannot be higher than six stories for fear that they block the karst landscape and, best of all, no taxis are allowed in to the centre.
The journey itself can be a worthy of being called tourist attraction in its own right, especially if you take the four-hour cruise down the Li River. The boat drifts at a very leisurely pace, so bring a book if you’re the restless sort or just plant yourself on the top deck for spectacular, close-up views of limestone outcroppings. Mediocre lunch included.
On arrival in the town you will find a plethora of cheap hostels, restaurants and bars but the town is slowly commencing to move more up-market and a couple of decent hotels are now beginning to spring up. West Street, with its 1400 year heritage, is the hub of the town and is full of life and entertainment options, also the best place from where to rent bicycles or scooters to explore the surrounding villages and caves.
Whilst still a predominantly a backpacker domain it is certainly worth the more discerning traveller spending a few days here to enjoy the stunning scenery and lively atmosphere.