Before coming to Yangshuo we read several blogs on the area to learn what to expect and get an idea of the area. What we read & experienced were two very different things. What we read was about the western version of a very small busy tourist town by people who sounded like they spent their time mostly in foreign occupied areas & bars in the busy season. On the other hand what we experienced was living on the outskirts of town in the heart of slow season when we were one of only a few foreigners in the area at that time of year & many businesses were closed for the Chinese New Year or simply because of a slow cold season when there was no reason for them to open.
The contrast between what we saw when we arrived in January until April was like night and day. In the slow season hardly anyone was around, the roads were a bit crazy as with any small area of China, and only a few businesses were open. When we arrived we began with walking much of the area to get to know our surroundings and then about a week after arriving we bought mountain bikes. Don’t even think about road bikes in an area like this! The roads are horrible and would pop the tires instantly not to mention the busy streets are not meant for clip-less pedals and could lead to more harm than good. We caught the bike shop just after it closed for the winter but were able to contact them and buy two bikes as they were trying to clear their inventory for new bikes next season. We bought two well maintained mountain bikes for around $250 each and began biking the area. We made our way to the Yulong River which was a fun ride and began navigating the crazy roads downtown a bit as well. Fast forward to April and the entire area became a buzz of activity. The quiet road we originally biked on to the Yulong was suddenly populated with a slew of bikes. On the small road we stayed on we would see groups of bikes that went for blocks and blocks, full of either Chinese tourists or wide eyed westerners, many of whom looked like they had never ridden a bike before. All the businesses that had previously been closed began to open & many new faces of Chinese & foreigners alike were added to the hustle & bustle.
Over the three months we were there we were able to experience quite a lot. We explored much of the area either by foot, bike, or scooter & developed relationships with several local restaurants. We learned some Chinese cooking, we experienced the river and the local activities that go on in the area, & we got to know the go-to places for various items & events. Many of the local Chinese places are by walking in and I was unable to get an address or phone number to put here for you to find but our two favorite places for breakfast or lunch were located on the same street where Omeida Chinese Academy is located. As you walk toward the center of Yangshuo from Omeida there are two ladies who are always set up selling dumplings. They are fun spirited and the food is delicious! If you keep going on the same road there are a bunch of places that have stands outside them serving a variety of dishes, usually vegetables with some kind of meat added. There is one in particular that is delicious and the people are wonderful. Below is a photo of those working there, you can use it to reference the location if you like. With both of these places we developed quite an interesting & fun friendship and it was very hard to say goodbye when we left. They do not speak English but if you are friendly and attempt to use Chinese they will be friendly and help you. Much of the language we picked up were from interactions with these wonderful people who in addition to just serving us when we ate there took the time to attempt to talk to us either through Chinese & body language or if we could not figure something out one of us would pull out a translator on our phones. Side note: be sure to get a good translator on a mobile device for your time in China! It will help tremendously! We used Pleco, but it only does single words so try to find one that will do sentences & does not require data.
Now if you’re spending any kind of extended time in China you’re going to find yourself wanting food from home that you can order easily and tastes great (think you’re tired and don’t want to struggle through language or other communication issues at the time), we found 3 very good places for this and details for them are listed at the bottom of this page. The first one is the Lounge, it is an expat bar that serves great sandwiches and a few other treats from home. The staff are friendly and if you put the effort in you will develop quite the friendships from going there. The second is a place called Simple Peach, it is a coffee shop that does breakfast, toasties, & deserts. Again the staff is great! Lynn’s English is wonderful and she quickly became a great friend! Third & finally is Liden Cafe. Liden was great for Vietnamese style drip coffee & the conversations with Julie were so much fun! I wish we would have had more time with all of these wonderful people & I’m sure you will love them as well!
We saw a different side of Yangshuo because we explored. Whether it be Yangshuo or another place read and listen to what others have to say but also get out and explore. Don’t be afraid to get lost or to try a new kind of food. Often the best food comes from small places or street vendors & for those of you afraid of eating at those because you think it’s not safe let me let you in on something…the washing and cooking processes are the same whether in a fancier more expensive place or a small hole in the wall joint. These places don’t discriminate between the two there is one way they clean and that’s it. So why not save some $, experience the culture, & eat at the more local joints you’ll be glad you did. When you try to do something and you’re told “no, you can’t do that,” keep trying and find out why. Maybe you really can’t or maybe they aren’t adventurous and would rather say it can’t be done because that’s easier. Either way find out for yourself.
- The Lounge: Website: http://www.lounge.stragnell.com wechat: adam-yangshuo Phone: 158 7700 3101
- Simple Peach: Phone: 18978370677 Address: No. 41 Chengbei Road Yangshuo Guilin Guangxi. Many expats in the area will recognize the name and be able to help as well.
- Liden Cafe: Liden is on the same street as the Omeida English Academy. Easy to find if you find that as those are the only 2 businesses on the street the rest is residential.