Li River (Yangshuo)

Yangshuo, China

Considered a gem of a landscape, the scenery bestowed on the area surrounding Li River in Guangxi province are absolutely breathtaking. The Li River has a length of almost 160 kms originating at Xing ‘an County and merging with two other rivers at Pingle County. The karst mountains that flank Li River on either side present a treat for the eyes and, tickle one’s imagination with fancy descriptive names that usually have their origin in legends.

Yangshuo is a small touristy town at the midway mark and getting there by a downstream cruise from Guilin is the preferred mode of travel. However, the town is accessible via high-speed train from Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Guilin. It is also reachable by long-distance buses from far and wide. At the Yangshuo pier, there is an official ticket booth selling tickets to the different routes you can catch from this point at regulated prices, so you don’t get ripped off. Avoid going during May and October long holiday weekends and public holidays as these places are swamped with local tourists and prices sky-rocket! Summer months see a lot of intense UV so best lather on sunscreen.

From Yangshuo pier, the Li River cruises going upward to Guilin will cover most of the same scenery as a Guilin-Yangshuo cruise but with much more noise and take longer because they go against the current. This cruise is thus not recommended.

However, a route from Yangshuo to Xingping (also up-river) has small family boats that will take you 4 hours to reach Xingping. These aren’t supposed to be carrying tourists but disembarking early morning won’t pose any problems for you. This is known as the Golden Waterways and has some stunning vistas. The celebrated Nin Horse Mountain will also show up en route and you can click amazing pictures from so close to the water. Taking a scooter from Xingping to Yangshuo is a great way to taste local life and sample some real bird eye views of the Li River.

Yangshuo to Pingle is a recently opened 32 kms stretch that takes 2 hours to cover by the cruise ships. Along the way you are treated to the more amazing karst landscape scenery including the Shutong Hill, peaceful scenery of simple village lives with the cattle grazing in the hills and clear water, all the elements of a typical Chinese painting.

A cruise from Yangshuo to Fuli is perhaps a less beaten track but will have unique panoramic views that’ll give you a chance to snap photographs that aren’t already available by the boatload everywhere. This is a three-hour ride and it is recommended to stick to the deck for maximizing your chances at capturing great memories.

Hiking opportunities along the Li River are limited as only one route is available for safety purposes. This starts at Xianggong Mountain and ends at Xingping Ancient Town. Duration is 4 hours and you’ll need to cross the river at some points (locals charge nominally for the lift).

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