What makes this area a prime tourist location are the amazing rock formations that are especially spectacular to watch from the Li or Yulong River. They are best described as a never ending cascade of pointed hills covered with lush green vegetation, often coming in bizarre shapes given names like Moon Hill, Nine Horse Fresco Hill…
One range follows the other, the ones further away mysteriously disappearing in the haze, typical for this area near two rivers. It reminded us a lot of Halong Bay in Vietnam, without the ocean of course and more, slimmer hills. This natural wonder plus the relentless promotion of nearby Guilin, as “the number one city in Guangxi” by Chinese tourist literature has turned the area it into a major tourist hub.
Yangshuo is final destination for the boats floating down the Li River from Guilin. Though catering mainly to Chinese tour groups, Yangshuo is also visited by a good number of “Westerns”, quite a few staying for a while attending Tai Chi or Kung Fu courses or learning Chinese.
All this has created a tourist enclave along Xi Jie or “West Street” that hardly finds an equal in the whole of China. This street and a few short alleys branching off are lined with Western style shops, restaurants, bars with bright neon multi-coloured signs and staffed with young people speaking English like nowhere else in China.
Even small eateries outside this tourist cosmos can provide basic information about their services in English! Although prices within the Xi Jie ghetto are favourable for tourists with dollars or Euros in their pockets, a few hundred meters away you can get a tray of dim sums for 50 cents or a good lunch for one Euro.