Yangshuo, China, April 2019: A degree of small town charm with rural character surrounded by limestone kast hills, that’s the consensus one arrives at after reading a host of blogs and official tourist board spiel on the tourist town of Yangshuo. Towns that evolve into tourist hot-spots do so often for a very good reason and as I’m just about to arrive into the Yangshuo High Speed train station from Shenzhen, I’m hoping to discover a little piece of the real China. Shenzhen by contrast was a completely synthetic city devoid of any charm whatsoever, period, so I’m quite looking forward to exploring Yangshuo across the next 7 days.
Yangshuo High-Speed Railway station is located at the village of Xingpingshen (Google Map), quite some distance from the Yangshuo town. Thankfully there is a connecting shuttle bus to whisk visitors away and avoid the taxi mafia that are loitering next door! About £2.35 for the 40 minute ride southbound on small local roads lined either side with cherry blossoms. Unfortunately the weather is descending into steady rain now, its something i’m getting quite used to since arriving in China just 4 days ago. At this point, all I know is the bus drops off somewhere near the town, but as I’m following the mobile map carefully, its soon apparent the drop-off will be someway from town. The end of the ride is at a purpose built shuttle bus terminal about 4KM south of Yangshuo, hopefully there’s public transport north again since I’m really keen to avoid those taxi mafia people.
Local bus number 801 connects the shuttle bus terminal with Yangshuo town center, about 15 minutes away, far to long for a hike, especially as my Air BnB is another 20 minute hike out of town again. Soon bus 8 fires up after the driver has a good old spitting session. Just 2 Yuen flat fare to town, cash for foreigners and mobile phone payments for everyone else. Yes, for those who have successfully installed WeChat and have a Chinese bank account, just about anything can be paid for via mobile phone after scanning a QR Code, easy, innovative.
And so this is Yangshuo at 1130 on a Sunday morning in light drizzle! I need to hike another 20 minutes or so beside the river to small hamlet where hopefully I shall have someplace to sleep for the next 7 days. Later I’ll get some bearings and make a first assessment of the town but already I can detect a positive vibe around the place.