Surrounded by the awesome limestone karst mountains, Yangshuo is a backpacker’s heaven. Ignoring the dusty main town, the central tourist area dominated by Xi Jie (West Street, also known as Foreigner’s Street), is a clustered collection of international pubs, bars, restaurants, hostels and shops. It is pumping day or night with local and foreign tourists. Behind the stone streets are cute canals with tiny arch bridges where it seems the common folk go about their business. European pubs serve some decent beer and food here too.
By night, the adjacent karst hills are illuminated by spotlight, while laser and disco lights flash and dance across the open rooftops to the thumping rhythm of nightclub beats.
For something a little more low-key, pedaling the surrounding countryside around Yangshuo by bicycle is undoubtedly more fun. And healthier!
We hired a decent mountain bike each and headed out of town, following a fairly rubbish not-to-scale map. Once out of town, we meandered along dusty roads to narrow tracks through rice paddies, farmland and village streets. It must be said though…we got lost. But what better place to get lost than amongst this beautiful scenery?
After much sweat and scratching of heads, we eventually made it to our destination; Dragon Bridge (Yulong Qiao). Built in 1412, this stone arch bridge over the Yulong River is very picturesque. We weaved our way through narrow streets of a nearby village to finally reach it.
Without getting lost, it should be a 21km round-trip from Yangshuo over predominantly flat terrain. Some of the route is paved, some dirt tracks, some narrow paths through farmland (although that may be the “we’re lost bit”). As long as you know where the Yulong River is and follow it, you should eventually get there.
Since it was now late in the day, we noticed they had REAL bamboo rafts which could be taken from here. But with time against us, we took a “shortcut” along the very busy highway to get back to Yangshuo before dark.
Visited 26th and 27th January 2014.