The pride and joy of the Guangxi Province is the tourist Mecca of Guilin County. The former capital territory is well known throughout the country for its mountainous setting and has grown into a major travel destination. The heavy reliance on tourism has created something of a cultural bubble where youíll find a lot more openness to and adoption of western culture than youíll find in China outside of major cities. This is especially present just outside of Guilin city in the town of YangShuo.
The town of YangShuo sits on the side of the Li River, covered in some 70,000 limestone karsts that line the horizon in any direction you turn. Once a relaxing get away, the town has sprung to life with the growing influx of climbers from around the world. For the good and the bad climbing is growing into a world-class destination in YangShuo, the likes of which rival Krabi in Thailand. Much like Krabi Iím sure itís only a matter of time before people start complaining about how climbed out the area is and wax poetic about how great it used to be. Might want to get here quick!
Development for climbing began in the 90s when Todd Skinner first put up some bolts on Moon Hill. Additional routes were put up by traveling climbers over the next several years but things didnít really take off until the next millennium when there was an explosion of new development. Just about any kind of climb can be found here now, from slab to overhang, single or multipitch, beginner romps to 5.15 as of Sharmaís visit in í09. The potential for new development is almost limitless. There are currently around 400 climbs in the guidebook and more being put up every month. The development thus far mostly centers around Yangshuo, but thereís climbing elsewhere in Guilin if youíre ambitious enough to seek it out.
The climbing is typical Asian limestone. Smooth and white where sheltered from the environment, and spiky and black where the rain hits it. Most of the climbing is sport though there are a few traditional lines.
Yangshuo is probably the easiest reached non-major city in China, for those that donít speak the language. That said, youíre not in Kansas anymore.
You have three basic options:
ē Fly into Guilin and take a bus to YangShuo (easiest and quickest, also most expensive)
ē Fly into Hong Kong and take the train to Guilin(easier than the following, but more expensive)
ē Fly into Guangzhou (if in Asia), an industrial city on the mainland across from HK (cheapest option, also the most adventure. Donít expect anyone to speak English here)
You can of course come in from a multitude of other cities, but these are the most common. Coming into Hong Kong is the easiest way to get a Visa (see section below) and you can tour the city while you wait. Thereís also a bit of climbing here. Everyone speaks English so itíll be much easier to arrange plans here. I believe that you can get a train here that will carry you through to Guilin (through Guangzhou) but I could be mistaken. Even if not, you can at least show up in Guangzhou with a ticket, which makes life easier.
Air Asia and some other local carriers fly into Guangzhou, often at very cheap rates. Guangzhou is an industrial city with not much to look at, but it makes for quite an experience to the western traveler, especially if traveling solo. Just getting to the train station is an adventure; buying a ticket even more so. I wouldnít recommend wasting much time here, but if you can get a cheap flight in itís really not all that bad. Pre-arranging your train ticket out will help prevent wasting time here when you could be climbing in YangShuo.
Outside of the major cities and tourist traps China can be challenging for the foreigner, even those well-traveled. Donít expect the usual tourist signs in English, and multilingual assistance that you get in the rest of Asia. Itís next to impossible to Ďwing ití with an attempt at Cantonese or Mandarin if youíre not familiar with tonal languages. Even writing things down can be difficult at times. Your best bet is to practice up on charades before heading over.
Once you make it into Guilin County things change drastically. The heavy tourism has created a bubble of western culture much like the rest of southeast Asia. Signs are often doubled in English and the language is widely spoken. Getting around is simple so long as you stay in the bubble.
YangShuo is subtropical and affected by the East Asian Monsoon pattern. You can get away with climbing year round, but fall is unquestionably optimum with moderate temps and minimal rain. The summers get hot and wet with temps in the 90s and averaging over an inch of rain per day. The winterís averages are reported in the 40-50s, which isnít terrible for climbing, but snow is not unheard of. Rain will certainly be an issue, but if you can climb the higher numbers there are plenty of crags that stay dry even in downpours.
YangShuo is heavily traveled by tourists and dirtbag climbers alike, so youíll find the full spectrum of accommodation. If you intend on arrive before too late in the day I would just show up and find a place that looks ok. Though expect crowds in Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb) and in late September / early October, when the weather is perfect.
Unless you have other reasons, stay downtown by the water. Touts will try to get you to take something up-street the second you get off the bus, just keep moving. Decent budget accommodation can be found, with a little work, for $5-10 US, and nicer stuff is certainly abundant. Group bedding is available for a couple of bucks if thatís more your style
I stayed at the aptly named ďClimbers InnĒ which is hidden in an alley across from China Climb; clean and reasonably priced. Youíll no doubt come across Monkey Janeís when searching for a place. I stayed one night and got out of that mildew crusted flea trap.
There were at least 5 climbing shops when I was there with everything from supplies, to info, guide services, or just someone to chat with. New stores are popping up constantly trying to get some of the pie, so some are a lot better than others. To give credit to those who helped established climbing in YangShuo be sure to check out China Climb (in the Lizard Lounge restaurant) where you can get a good selection of gear and they have a bouldering cave; Karst Cafť Ė great pizza and Echo and Eben were very friendly; Spiderman Climbing Ė across from Karst, and Black Rock Climbing.
Thereís a small low-budget guide available throughout town that is fairly user-friendly and gives decent descriptions of the major climbing areas and general climberís info. The 8th edition (2008) ran me five bucks or so and covered close to 400 climbs; rumor at the time was that a new version was pending. The book focuses on the popular YangShuo climbing areas, but if youíre a savvy climber and there for more than a quick stop youíll no doubt meet other climbers that know of the non-publicized crags in the greater Guilin area.
Iím just going to say it, and people can disagree: Chinese food is, on average, terrible. Sure, thereís a few things here or there that are tasty, but compared to any of their neighbors itís just bland and unhealthy. And they take pride in cooking with MSG.
Itís easy to find food in Yangshuo. Youíve got everything from traditional Chinese, to tourist Chinese, to McDonaldís and KFC. Iíd stick with the dumplings and rice-bowls.
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There's the usual assortment of tourist activities around town, and no shortage of tourist shops to gladly give you a hand and lighten your pocket. If you have the time I would also pad an extra day getting there or leaving to have a look around the city of Guilin, it's worth a day of your time.
Bikes can be rented throughout town for a few bucks and are a great way to access any of the climbs in the Wine Bottle area.
Without a doubt, don't miss Liu Sanjie, aka the Impressions Light Show. Directed by Zhang Yimou, the mind behind the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, the light show delivers in true Chinese 'over the top' style. Set in a cove of the Li river and backed by towering limestone karsts, over 600 performers act out an intriguing tale ofÖ well, I have no idea what the story was about, but they dance around and thereís a lot of cool lights and stuff. Check it out.
124 Total Routes
['4 Stars',18],['3 Stars',60],['2 Stars',38],['1 Star',7],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in YangShuo
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for YangShuo:
Featured Route For YangShuo
Carbonic Acid Trip 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Asia
: ... : Main Face
A superb route and my favorite on the face. Climb up directly below the large flow stone formation. Pull a few fairly committing moves above the 4th bolt on a flow stone rib until you and lean back against the flow stone like a chimney then move out right and between the two flow stone formations.The guidebook has no name so I'm calling it tuffa seat....[more] Browse More Classics in International
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|By Ken H|
From: Bell's Canyon, UT
Mar 30, 2011
PAYING TO CLIMB:
PLEASE DON'T PAY. NOTE: I've been an Access Fund member for years and do all I can to help keep climbing areas open and I'm saying Don't Pay.
A disturbing trend has started in Yangshuo of locals attempting to intimidate you into paying to climb at areas like: The Wine Bottle, Low Mountain, and Swiss Cheese Wall. The locals will walk up and say "hello" and then rub their fingers together. They are persistent and will hang around and probably yell at you in Chinese, motion for you to leave saying "no", and talk loudly on a mobile. PLEASE NOTE: These locals are NOT stewards of the crag nor do they own the land or anything like that they are just bums trying to force a buck out of you. EXCEPTION: Rumor has it the Wine Bottle may have been purchased and you might have an issue here. If you do pay them you are doing your fellow climbers a disservice and causing possible future access issues as whatever you pay them, they will want from the next climber and maybe more the next year. I have not heard of anyone being harmed by these hooligans but don't tease or antagonize them. Just say "no, no", keep climbing, and please DON'T PAY THEM. At this time there are no issues at the Egg or White Mountain.
Rock Abond Inn: I highly recommend Rock Abond Inn owned by Abond (a sponsored black diamond climber) and run by his girlfriend Ting (also a climber). Ting speaks very good english and they are very helpful. We were able to just have them call a mini bus for us when we wanted to go to White Mountain or the Egg and often they knew if others were also going there. The driver they called also knew right where to drop us off.
River View: It is a little more quiet than Rock Abound next to the river and has a little better views at about twice the price.
Climber's Inn: This is a little guesthouse in the middle of the busiest area of Yangshuo and is a little cheaper than Rock Abond and many climbers stay here.
All three of these are only about 3 blocks apart.
Bike: You can bike to most of the crags if you like. Bikes cost $1-$2 per day. The wine bottle, the thumb, and swiss cheese are about 20-40 minutes by bike; Low Mountain, Chicken Cave, and Space Buttress are about 30-60 minutes; White Mountain and The Egg are probably about 45-60 minutes. This said you should be ready to search around and feel lost looking for how to get to the crag.
Mini Bus: I recommend mini bus for your first trip to white mountain or the egg. It is $10 total for a round trip and you can set a pick up time. The bus can hold about 6-7 people and climbers can go to the Egg or White Mountain on the same bus.
From: Westminster, CO
Aug 19, 2011
A few things about the description:
Air Asia and some other local carriers fly into Guangzhou, often at very cheap rates.
Guangzhou isn't all that close to Yangshuo. You can fly into Guilin, the neighboring city, from any major city in China (Beijing, Shanghai Hongkong, etc), Bangkok, Singapore, and probably a few others.
Itís next to impossible to Ďwing ití with an attempt at Cantonese or Mandarin.
Of course you can't wing it in Cantonese. You are in Guangxi, not Guangdong, nobody understands the Cantonese dialect there. Just because it's popular in the states (b/c of business dealing with Hongkong and its refusal to learn Mandarin) doesn't mean it's popular in China. On the other hand, if you can speak broken Mandarin, you'll be better off than most.
Chinese food is, on average, terrible.
That's a pretty ignorant statement. You are in Guangxi, so say the food there is terrible, and I might even half agree with you. They certainly don't take food nearly as seriously as their eastern neighbor (Cantonese food).
Without a doubt, don't miss Liu Sanjie, aka the Impressions Light Show.
It's a love story of an ethnic Zhuang girl. Guangxi is home to a number of ethnic minority groups. Zhuang is the largest ethnic minority group in China (Han accounts ~91% of the population).
Aug 22, 2011
I came here for a two day climbing trip Aug 17-18, 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed Yangshuo.
The summary is very thorough, but I'll add a few comments:
Getting there - You can take a scenic ferry ride from Guilin to Yangshuo. It takes ~4 hrs and includes a lunch on board the boat. They pass by the view that's currently on the back of the 20 RMB bill, and you can buy fish freshly caught from the river. Slightly expensive (~400RMB), but worth checking out if you have the time and money.
Eating - I strongly recommend trying the beer battered fish (pi2 jiu3 yu2). It's a Yangshuo specialty and not available elsewhere. It's fish cooked in a spicy tomato based sauce. I couldn't taste the beer, but still, it was so good I ate the whole thing. Ask for fish that has the least amount of bones (mao yu is a good option).
Things to Do - Apart from climbing, I would suggest renting a bike or a motorcycle to cruise through the city. Lots of fun and relatively cheap. I would avoid checking out the caves - they are extremely commercialized (think Disneyland) and filled with artificial color LED's.
Climbing guides - I didn't feel comfortable leading just yet, so I hired a guide to set up top ropes for me from Karst Climber. Ginger runs the business and can speak relatively good English. My guide's name was Xiao O and he was very good. Highly recommend if you are looking for a guide.
Grades - I personally thought the ratings were inflated one or two grades, especially the lower ratings (lower than 5.10).
Paying - When I was climbing at Wine Bottle, someone approached us asking us to pay. At the time, they were charging for guided groups, but individual climbers could climb for free. I think they were asking for 20RMB/person, an exorbitant amount. We didn't pay, but they asked us to register anyway.
Hope this helps.
|By Joe Freeman|
Apr 18, 2013
My wife and I stayed a couple days in yangshuo at the Climbers Inn. It was clean friendly and cheap. The family that owns and runs it cares about you enjoying your stay. One of the nicest places for traveling and climbing we came across. Lilly (owner/staff) is a great climbing partner if you catch a time she can go, and she can help with bike rentals and directions, getting tickets, etc,...pretty much anything, and speaks great English! :) Even let us borrow her guidebook our first day, but you can buy the Yangshuo guide here too.
The room had good hot water, decent bed and was clean and well lit.
N 24.77931 E 110.49126 is a GPS way point about 100 feet away from it, it off a narrow walkway between buildings, look for signs at either end of the alley to find it.
|By Eli streed|
Jul 5, 2013
Anyone know about partner finding in yangshuo?
Nov 7, 2013
I just arrived & will be here at least the next 30 days...
I'm working a few hours a week @ DMZ bar, otherwise PM & we'll get rad!
From: San Luis Obispo
May 30, 2014
Starting off a two month traveling adventure in YangShuo this summer. I will be there from July 29 to Aug 10 and will be looking for climbing partners. Any advice or beta for the area would be greatly appreciated. Message me if you'll be in the area or can share any info, thanks.
|By Josh S|
Jul 18, 2014
Just got back from a week in Yangshuo, and I highly recommend the place we stayed - The Tea Cozy.
It's a little bit outside of town - about 5 km - so if you're looking to party it's probably not the best place. But its a short bike ride to a lot of the crags, and the staff is unbelievably friendly, helpful, and accommodating. The owner, Richard, does some climbing and drew us maps to some of the crags. Food is good too.
Also, I wouldn't recommend a trip there in July/August - the humidity is unreal.