Lonely Planet China 10th Edition describes Yangshuo as backpacker’s paradise. In reality it is a typical tourist resort with tons of bars, hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and no stores that would sell real food. Quite terrible in fact, unless you rent a bicycle and get out of the this tourist nightmare to the countryside with its lovely nature, idyllic village and mandarin fields. And not to forget its scenic karst hills, which make Yangshuo a truly unique place. In fact parts of Avatar were shot here, so you might get the picture what it is like. No Na’vi were spotted in the wild, though. These hills are also perfect for climbing and apparently Yangshuo is one of the most known rock climbing areas in the world. Made me almost regret that I have no experience in leading and I was too cheap to hire a guide. Interestingly enough many hills look quite climbable with no equipment from a distance. But once you attempt to climb, you realize that tight and hostile (= spikes everywhere) vegetation make it impossible. Once again Chinese in their attempt to control the nature equipped several hills with stairs, so you can ascent to at least some hills. TV tower hill near Yangshuo was particularly impressive. High enough to provide a panoramic view over Yangshuo, no entrance fee, old and battered steps and virtually unknown to tourists. It was very hard to find, but a note written in Chinese did wonders.
Water Cave was surprisingly good too. It is a very large cave featuring an underground river, mud bath and hot springs. Not that many tourists too and at some point we were left completely alone and even managed to switch off the lights for the whole cave section. Rather darkroomish. Bamboo PVC boat ride was alright. Lovely views, but the constant boat engine sound was rather unnecessary. A cheap inflatable rubber boat and a bit warmer weather would fit much better.
On a slightly different note, I met some cool people too, which resulted in prolonging my stay in Yangshuo until my Chinese visa expired. Swedes once again (Max and Robin), very nice Frenchmen (Toma and Fred), a Canadian guy (Chris), who was technically on a work trip to Guangzhuo and a Dutch (Paul). Unfortunately I had a hard deadline in form of the Chinese visa and we had to part our ways. Then again this is the way it goes, when you travel in this mode. C’est la vie.