The picturesque city of Yangshuo sits along the Li and Yulong Rivers. It’s a 2.5hr flight Southwest of Beijing and 1.5 hours due west of Hong Kong, in the mountains of the Guangxi province. To get to Yangshuo, travelers fly through Guilin airport and then it is about an hour and a half drive to any resort.
Words can’t really describe how stunning this area is; The juxtaposition of the river and the very dramatic skinny and tall mountains is really extraordinary. Yangshuo felt like “true China” — It was difficult to converse with anyone (even those working in the hotels) and poverty and the restrictions of the Chinese government were very apparent. It also felt very much like a “mountain vacation” within the trip, which was really refreshing.
We stayed at The Banyan Tree Yangshuo, a mountain resort with multi-bedroom villas as well as hotel rooms. The rooms are large and well very appointed, and I loved the centerpiece of the room– the oversized soaking tub. This resort has lots of activities to keep a family busy without ever having to leave the property; bicycles, a kids center, gym, Bamboo River Rafts, yoga classes, two restaurants (and the best buffet breakfast of our trip), two bars, a large infinity pool overlooking the Li River, specially scheduled activities such as fan painting, and my daughter’s personal favorite– lots of fish to feed in the resort ponds!
The resort was amazing, but venturing out into the city proved to be one of our most favorite days on the trip. We left the resort that morning for a short drive to the local primary school. Here, my daughter was able to see children her age and during our short visit she taught them a little English and they taught her a little Mandarin. We were the first Americans to ever visit this school and the children were very curious about my daughter’s blond hair and blue eyes!
After the visit to the school, we headed on to a farm house where we met a local farmer and saw his gardens. We were able to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, wash them with water from the well, and then watch him cook in his home for us. We spent the next few hours dining with him, drinking his homemade Rice Wine (not sure if I recommend this!), and eating the most delicious Chinese food I think I have ever had. The farmer spoke absolutely not a word of English, but the connection and memories transcended the language barrier!
We left Yangshuo after two quick nights and it was truly a great experience. I can’t stress the stay at Banyan Tree enough though, with the difficulty of conversing and rural nature of Yangshuo, having the Banyan Tree as a home base made this stop on the trip extra special.