The best outdoor activities in Yangshuo

Yangshuo, photo by Arian Zwegers

The very small and very scenic town of Yangshuo has been a hotspot for backpackers for a long time now, but regular tourists are slowly but definitely adding this great destination to their list of places to visit in China. As in the case of many backpacker paradises, Yangshuo is the kind of town that has some nightlife and attractions, but mostly caters to those travelers who love to spend time outdoors. If you are an active sort of person who can’t sit still for a minute, then Yangshuo is a destination that won’t disappoint you in any way. The incredible karst scenery, the small town charm and bustling streets are only part of the appeal – for more than this, check out some of the best outdoor activities in Yangshuo.

Rock Climbing

One of the most popular activities for adrenaline junkies in Yangshuo is rock-climbing, no surprise considering the karst landscape surrounding the small town. Yangshuo has over 300 climbing routes, so whatever your climbing experiences, you will surely find a route that’s perfect for you. Since the rock-climbing scene in Yangshuo is really lively, you can network with other climbers and join climbing expeditions if you are not to keen on tackling the mountains on your own. There re quite a few climbing shops in town, so you can buy new or used equipment, and pick up the guidebook that details all the climbing trails in the area.


photo by Maria Ly

The area surrounding Yangshuo, with its mountains and small villages, is one of the most scenic places in China, and there’s no better way to explore it than on bike. The villages are great places for a break, and the locals and very welcoming. If you want to take longer bike trips but don’t want to bike all the way, you can take a boat up or down Li river and then bike back to Yangshuo.

Exploring caves

There are countless caves near Yangshuo, and although some are show caves with guided tours and facilities, others are undisturbed and amateur (or professional) speleologists will have a great time exploring them. If you don’t have any experience with cave explorations, it is best to consult one of the climbing shops to see which caves are safe to visit.

Bamboo rafting

Yangshuo, photo by Hector Garcia

One of the best outdoor activities in Yangshuo is bamboo rafting on Li River or Yulong River. A motorized raft is a great way to relax and admire the scenery, but if you want something more traditional, then opt for a bamboo raft poled down the river by a local boatman. Li River is quite exciting for these kinds of rafts, as it has a series of small dams that spice up the trip – just don’t forget to wear your lifejacket!


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