Map of Yangshuo
Get a map of Yangshuo. It's pretty concise and it shows you the bicycle route to the various sites if you are interested to take bike rides. The map also shows you the nearby villages of Fuli and Xingping. It is written both in Chinese and English. You can get the map in any guesthouses or at the stalls along West Street.
Price : 6 yuan
The only problem with the map is that the paper quality makes it crumpy and tears easily when folded and handled frequently.
See many poor villages
My favorite thing about Yanghuo was to rent a bike and go biking in the mountains through the villages, just to ride around looking at the people and their way of life. You can see this down anyroad near Yanghuo as there are many villages.
What is really sad about China is that when you go into tourist places, not only are there stores hawking crafts and other "minority made" things (things that are not made in homes, but more likely are made by hand in factories) which are kind of cool, but there are places selling western brand clothing that we can get back home. Maybe it's for the Chinese tourists and not for the westerners, but it seems such a waste to sell stuff that we can get cheaper at home and that may not even be real. The crafts are vastly overpriced, as are the tours, and that's thanks to tourists who don't haggle and don't understand. Again, today, as we wandered the streets, saying no to every tout we saw, I became aware of how sad it was that these people, and the narrow strip of land surrounding West Street and the docks, are all the deeper most tourists get. They don't wander the back streets, dark alleyways.
I want to find a place where I can buy real products from real people, not from people who buy wholesale and sell "jacked-up retail", bargaining down to "way above retail", best price for me. I want a place where I'm more than a dollar sign. I want to connect with the people instead of just saying "no". But tourism, thanks to a large degree to tour groups, has destroyed the possible relationships and connections we could have with people.
So, why bother with the main tourist streets? Why bother going if all you see are retail shops and touts, the inside of a tour bus and that pesky flag the guide carries? That is a shallow way to see the world. Get out of the main drag. Walk the slick, uneven steps up to the lookout by the bus station. I don't want to suggest walking the mud roads just outside of town because if many people do that, they'll be paved and touristy as well. Get there before it's too late. Places of beauty are so often damaged by tourism... So get away from the touts. Get away from the shoe shiners who bother you at restaurants to shine your sandles, hiking boots, flip-flops, bare feet...
Yanghuo to Guilin / Guilin to Yanghuo
The bus runs all day and every 20-30 minutes both ways. You can either take the better bus with aircon for 13RMB per person or the little private bus for 10RMB per person. I recommend the 13RMB bus, we took both and the private buses can be packed and people smoking in there and so on....
Mei You Cafe
Mei You is Chinese for "No." As in.. "No bad food." or "No bad service." At least that's what the cafe boasts. I'd have to agree with it for the most part. It was one of my favorite hangouts while in Yangshou. Don't expect to order authentic Chinese cooking here. Chinese food here consists of Cup O' Noodles. In fact, most places along West Street cater to western tastes. It's a good place for travellers that have been on the road a while and are seeking something familiar.