Nestled 70km south of Guilin in the thick of China’s most spectacular karst scenery, YANGSHUO rose to prominence during the mid-1980s, when tourists on Li River cruises realized that the village made a great place to settle down and get on intimate terms with the river and its peaks. Yangshuo has grown considerably since then and, despite retaining an outdated reputation as a mellow haven among Western travellers, has become a rowdy draw for domestic tourists, with the majority of its bars, restaurants and shops catering to their tastes. It remains, however, an easy place to spend a few days: hills surround everything, village lanes swarm with activity, and there are restaurants and accommodation everywhere. You can rent a bike and spend a day zipping between hamlets, hike around or go rock climbing on nearby peaks, or study cooking or martial arts. Just note that during Yangshuo’s peak-season tourism (July–October) accommodation is scarce and many attractions will be overcrowded.

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