We were supposed to visit a typical house of a rural family near Yangshuo.
We did! But the house was... a performance of the comunist party. A couple of gentle functionaries demonstrating the use of the displayed stuff under the dominant look of... Mao.
Well... it really gave us an idea, it was free, and we were only invited to buy something, not forced.
When leaving the boats, tourists are attracted by the presence of a man, with two cormorants, waiting to get photographed. If he gets it, he will ask you for some money.
It's a ridiculous amount, so you better assume that you will pay him, don't do it from distance and compose your picture as you like.
The famed Cormorant guy, a staple of the area for years, still stands to await tour groups for a paid photo.
Kid gets face cleaned, Cormorant guy looks on.
Unique Suggestions: I don't want to take away his livelihood, but do you really need a head-on photo of a guy with birds? If so, he's happy to help. If not, or if you don't believe in paying for photos, there's always the hip shot.
We went to see this because I thought it might be a town of that name. It turns out to be a fully fledged tourist site.
It looked too kitsch for me and there were busloads of tourists in the carpark. I believe that there is plenty of natural countryside to see without paying money. We did not go in - anyone who has you can tell me I am wrong!!
What a piece of sh**!!!
Spent 128RMB ($16) per person and were completely disappointed.
It was a very dangerous place:
- slippery (especially in those flip floppers that were given to us instead of our hiking shoes - STUPID!!!),
- very narrow (I mean I`m a slim girl and I had troubles crawling through those tunnels),
- dark (not that there is anything to see really, but still),
- hot and humid (people with athma and other breathing problems can be in trouble),
- dirty (you`ll see what I mean after the tour is over).
If, for some unknown reason, you`ll still decide to go there, make sure you:
- do not put that slippery flip floppers on (you can slip and hurt yourself);
- dress appropriately (may be have a pair of shorts and a t-shirt - for cave and then change clothes);
- do not take your backpack (I did and regretted big time - it was extremely hard to carry it through, not to mention how dirty that thing was after we got out);
- are not scared of the close spaces (I was not and still felt uncomfortable).
Oh, yeah, there will be a guy with a camera ahead of you, who`ll be taking rather annoying and endless photos how you crawl through the narrow tunnels. 15RMB (~$2) for a picture if you decide to buy it later.
Fun Alternatives: The alternative to ALL their caves, Banyan Tree, etc would be just bicycling in the country side. I sure enjoyed it much more.
There is nothing to describe really. It was just bad. Big idea, bad execution. The result - we left before it ended and so did many other people.
Basically this is what I remember - hundreds of people running with bands, fire torches. Little girls singing for ages on the stage.
There were many people performing on that show, but it was a mess, not thought through.
Payed 160RMB ($20) per peson and still sat pretty far from the stage.
You also pay 2RMB per person (one way) for a shuttle, which picks you up at the end of the West Street and brings to the show and then back.
Fun Alternatives: Just do not go, it`s a waste of money.
May be centuries ago Chinese were fishing with the help of cormorants and may be till today they still do it somewhere, but now in Yangshuo it is all for show.
I do not mind a show if it looks good, but when I see an old man putting a rug above his work clothes and charging 5 RMB for few pictures with him and a bird and then bluntly asking for 100RMB to see a bird catching a fish.. Common!!!
Everything on West Street is a tourist trap. That's OK if you want banana pancakes, toga parties and souvenirs. However it's not China. All of the restaurants and bars are more expensive than where the Chinese people go. You must bargain very hard for everything here, these people are professionals. At the time of my visit (10/05) the Chinese government was trying to keep the restaurants and shops from being on the sidewalks. One day it was OK, the next day it wasn't. So streetside dining may be a thing of the past.
Unique Suggestions: Enjoy yourself and bargain hard. Remember you can find a hotel, restaurant, clothing, etc. much less expensively a couple of blocks away.
Avoid the Butterfly Grotto by all means! It is such a silly fake. I mean everything is made out of concrete! And how can it be that there is a huge waterfall coming out of one tiny little Karst Mountain?????
Just an ugly tourist trap!
Prices of souvenirs in Yangshuo are generally higher compared to other parts of Guilin. Due to high influx of backpackers and tourists disembarking from boat cruise for shopping, prices have been pushed up a little. Remember to bargain or you still can purchase the souvenir that you like from other parts of Guilin.
Eg: Mini Osmanthus Flower wine costs RMB15 in Yangshuo and RMB10 only in Guilin downtwon.
All Shops and Resturants
Not a bad place, just be ready for the tourist atmosphere.
A good place to get information and find a guide.
The locals are friendly.
Unique Suggestions: It is best seen at night.
If you want to see foreigners, this the place to go.
Let start by saying I love trees. I like unique and beautiful trees. This park is 18Y and is basically one tree. Very few trees in the world are worth that much money to see and this is not one of them.
Unique Suggestions: Use their bathrooms which are some of the few around.
Fun Alternatives: Their are lots of tree around Yangshuo you can see for free. Rest under one with 18Y of alcohol and you'll have a much better time.
Being ripped off as soon as you arrive is not a good start.
Unique Suggestions: Please be aware that the moment you arrive in China - you need your haggling hat on. You need to haggle over the price of basically everything. It is part of their culture and when you get to know the country people you start to understand why they have to do this.
A rough guide is to pay no more than half of what they initailly tell you, often about one third is more accurate.
The haggling begins at the airport. For those that fly into Guilin and are heading to Yangshuo - you can get a bus to the guilin bus station and then another bus to yanghsuo. But if you have a lot of luggage and arrive at night a taxi is the best option. Locals pay anywhere between 150 - 200 yuan. Don't pay any more than about 220 yuan. They will probably start bargaining at about 350 yuan. Be tough or you will become an instant sucker.
Fun Alternatives: If you have pre-booked accomodation or any activities in Yangshuo - call the hotel or company and get them to organise the taxi.
If you are really scared, look up VT member 'Yangers' who is a local in Yangshuo and I am sure he would love to help if you drop him an email.
Last alternative - if you have loads of money, just pay! I love the chinese people. I often use to haggle for a while just to get practice but then I would pay more than they even asked. Those extra few dollars meant very little to me compared to what it meant to them. If all else fails, follow your heart.
The Li river and Yangshuo area are known for their Cormorant fishing - fishermen who work at night, from small bamboo boat, having Cormorants with tied throats do the fishing for them.
It's a very interesting tradition, and for 50 Yuan per person you can actually join a Cormorant fisherman. However, what you will see is not the real thing (which nobody really cares to mention...). You will see a show - you'll join about 5 more turists on a boat, a fisherman will wait for you in his boat, and for about 10 minutes (and not an hour as they will tell you), you will see him demonstrating his technic: he'll through fish into the water, in almost total darkness, the birds will catch them, and he'll take the fish from their throats.
All in all, it's still interesting and pretty nice to see, but just be sure - this isn't the real thing. It's a show. The fishermen really start working only at around 22:00. Until then, they give shows to the tourists.
A lot of travelers through China have Yangshuo on their list, okay I admitt, it is nice, but it's soooo touristic, it almost looks like a european town with all the western food and cafes.
Unique Suggestions: If you decide to go there I can recommend renting a bike and just go, we ended up biking in the middle of the ricefields, taking a swim in a clear lake, biking through tiny villages with friendly, smiling people. These biketrips are one of the fondest memories of my travels through China.