Seen as one of nature’s best theme parks, Guilin is a mountainous paradise full of many great indoor and outdoor activities all year round. Yangshuo is the backyard of Guilin and a scenic riverside escape from Guilin’s city atmosphere.
When talking about Guilin and Yangshuo, many people only mention the Li River Cruise, biking among the fields, and bamboo rafting on the Yulong River, but those are only around 1/3 of the highlights here. Keep reading to learn more about the unique activities you can experience in Yangshuo.
We recommend you visit this summer or autumn when the weather is not only great but there also are plenty of incredible things to do. Our experts can help you plan your trip and recommend some new experiences for you and your family that are exciting, relaxing, and will help you escape the summer heat.
1. Adventurous All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Driving Experience
ATV trips are still new in Yangshuo, but now that they are available they have quickly gained popularity with travelers who love adventure. When driving among the orchards and along paths across rice fields, you will feel that all the hustle & bustle of city life has been left behind. Autumn is the harvesting season and along the way, you can stop for the chance to pick some seasonal fruits like mandarin oranges that ripen in September.
During the ATV experience, you will control the speed yourself and will be able to go as slow or fast as you feel comfortable with. No need to have a driving license, you should be fine as long as you know how to ride a bike.
Near Xiang Gong Mountain: Start your ATV journey in the morning and then enjoy the sunset on top of Xiang Gong Mountain in the late afternoon (about a 20-minutes hike) or near Wulong Spring Village (about 5 minutes by car from ATV camp).
Shuangtan is another popular sunset location. About a 20-minute drive from West Street, Shuangtan is a scenic harbor on the Li River. The water here is clear and quiet and the riverside is the perfect place to sit and immerse yourself in the picturesque karst landscape.
- Time: 1-1.5 hours
- Suitable for: Couples and families who want a fun adventure activity
- Tips: Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Also, bring a change of clothes for after the drive in case you get muddy.
2. Explore the Yulong River on SUP and Water Mat
SUPs (Stand Up Paddleboards) may have originated in the United States but have become popular worldwide because they are easy to operate and just plain fun to use.
SUPs are great for exploring a gentle waterway like the Yulong and passengers can choose to paddle while laying down, kneeling, standing, or sitting on the board. Brave souls can even try some yoga poses! One of the best aspects of the SUP is that it can hold many people who can all row together. This makes it great for families with younger children.
After spending some time paddling on the boards, take a break to relax on a floating water mat! Have you ever tried jumping from a SUP to a water mat without falling to the river? Now’s your chance! You can also try having a picnic while relaxing on the water.
For this activity, we’ll take you to the best area of the river where you can avoid the crowds and just enjoy time together.
- Time: around 2 hours
- Suitable for: Adults and children ≥6 years who love water activities
- Tips: Bring swimsuits, sunscreen, and sunglasses
3. Kayaking through the Karsts
Kayaking is a popular way to enjoy the cool water and appreciate the karst scenery along the Li River. Roaming across the clear water, you will fall in love with the small town vibes and scenic beauty of Yangshuo.
For this activity, we will take you downstream of the Li River Cruise area far from the busy section of the river that is full bamboo rafts and large boats (about 50 minutes by car). If you aren’t an experienced kayaker, no worries! Your guide will teach you some basic skills and then let you can practice by yourself.
- Time: half day
- Suitable for: Adults and children ≥6 years old
- Tips: Bring swimsuits, sunscreen, and sunglasses
4. Explore the “Mysterious” Cave
You may have heard of the famous Reed Flute Cave and Silver Cave in Guilin, but do you know that the city is full of many caves of different sizes that haven’t been fully developed for tourism?
Far different from the well-known caves with colorful lighting and concrete steps, the less-traveled caves are more of an adventure and require visitors to wear helmets and headlamps to explore. A pair of comfortable shoes are also a must.
Inside the cave, you will get the chance to experience true darkness when you turn off your headlamp. Cave ecosystems are entirely different from anything that we’re used to and when inside it feels like you’ve strayed into another world devoid of light and sound.
Do you know why the temperature in caves stays around 20℃ all year around? Are you curious about how stalactites are formed and how long they have been there? Your English-speaking coach will be there to guide you and explain all the mysteries of these ancient caves.
- Time: 4 hours (including 2 hours’ roundtrip travel)
- Suitable for: Fit adults and kids ≥7 years old kids
- Tips: What you’ll need: Closed-toed shoes that are good for walking; Clothes that can get dirty or be thrown away; Some snacks to keep up your energy
5. Rock Climb Yangshuo’s Via Ferrata
A Via Ferrata is also called an "iron road" in English and is a climbing route covered in steel cables that allows rock climbers to hook themselves in the whole time and minimizes danger. Yangshuo is a paradise for rock climbing, featuring many different limestone peaks that have climbing routes great for everyone from beginners to advanced climbers.
Located in the Yulong River Ecological Park, the Yangshuo Via Ferrate route integrates various climbing forms including a suspension bridge, sky ladder, zip line, and circular viewing bridge which lead to a stunning view at the end.
Climbing the Yangshuo Via Ferrata is about a 2-hour experience. Don’t worry if you don’t have professional rock climbing training. Your coach will teach you the basic skills onsite and climb with you together. This experience is a thrill and may make those afraid of heights want to hold their breath and take every step carefully.
- Time: around 2 hours including a 30-minute roundtrip transfer from Yangshuo
- Suitable for: Fit adults and children ≥7 years old kids
- Tips: Wear a swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, and comfortable shoes
What if it rains when I visit Yangshuo? While it does rain sometimes in autumn (August to November), it is usually just a quick shower and doesn’t last long. To accommodate the rain or any other events, we plan all our trips on a flexible schedule.
In case of rain, your personal guide will contact the activity leader to reschedule the time or day of your planned experiences. There are also many interesting indoor activities to do in Yangshuo while you wait for the rain to stop. Here are some examples and you can contact us for more ideas.
6. Chinese Tea Culture Experience
China is the home of tea and for much of China’s history, tea houses were popular meeting places because they are good spots to relax and chat. For this experience, you will visit a local tea house with traditional Chinese-style furniture and decorations.
Once you arrive, a tea expert will briefly introduce the history and classification of tea in China to you. After that, the expert will demonstrate the art of the tea ceremony and the traditional way of tea-tasting.
You will have the opportunity to taste 3 different kinds of tea and eat some tea snacks. You will also be able to practice making the tea yourself. During the tea-tasting, a musician will play the guqin, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument in the background.
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Suitable for: Tea and Chinese culture lovers
7. Make and Paint a Paper Fan
Fuli Ancient Town is also called the Chinese Painted Fan Town for its exquisite fan artwork. These fans are all handmade and are crafted from rice paper and bamboo found along the Li River. Chinese paper fans are often beautiful and can be decorated with painted Guilin landscapes, flowers, birds, insects, or traditional Chinese women.
During the experience, you will have a chance to visit a workshop in Fuli and learn how to make and paint a paper fan. This is the perfect activity to get that special souvenir from your Guilin trip.
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Suitable for: Art/Chinese culture lovers
- 5-Day Dynamic Guilin and Yangshuo Tour - Summer Fun
8. Incredible Li River Pebbles Art Experience
Pebbles and sand are not only an important natural resource in Guilin but also a cultural treasure. Because of this, Li River Pebbles Art is the perfect blend of nature and culture.
During this 1–2 hours experience, an expert will guide you in creating a piece of artwork using pebbles and stones handpicked from the Li River. Each art piece is individually hand-crafted and personalized. This is the portable landscape of Guilin.
- Time: 2 hours
- Suitable for: Families with kids
Explore Guilin with China Highlights
Yangshuo is a popular travel destination all year round and is especially great to visit in summer and autumn. This is truly a place that caters to all kinds of interests. Explore Yangshuo with China Highlights and let us design a trip based on your special interests and preferences.
China Highlights is always your best travel companion wherever you go.
What's a Tour With us Like?
A family of four that moved from US to China just released a video about their time in Guilin with us in October, 2021. Contact us to send a free inquiry.