The four routes below are the most popular bike rides in the Yangshuo area, and can all be done in a half-day or a day's cycling, depending on your pace and time you spend visiting the attractions along the way. Suggestions are provided for combining routes. All routes start from West Street, Yangshuo, as this is the most popular place to hire a bicycle from.
The Yulong River Short Route
This is the classic Yangshuo bike ride, combining hills, river, villages and scenic spots in a short loop. There are options for rafting at Yulong River Scenic Area and Chaoyang Wharf (see Baisha and Yulong River Route).
- Total distance: 15 km (10 miles) without Moon Hill or other detours.
- Time needed: half-a-day
Hire a bike and start from the mouth of West Street (西街 Xi Jie /sshee jyeah/) on Pantao Road (蟠桃路 Pantao Lu /pan-taoww loo/). Turn right and follow Pantao Road for 900 meters, then take the first side street on the left, called Longyue Road (龙岳路 Longyue Lu /long-ywair loo/). (If you get as far as the filling station, and where the road becomes a dual carriageway, you have gone too far.) After 200 meters Longyue Road crosses National Road 321 (the G321, here Jingfeng Road 荆风路) and continues west into the countryside. Cross the junction and follow Longyue Road. After 800 meters you will leave the town environment and be out in the countryside with its rice paddies, small villages and verdant karst hills.
Follow this small rural road (Rural Road 66) for about 2 km (1.25 mi) and you will come to the first major fork. The right fork (Rural Road 66) leads to Yulong River Scenic Area (遇龙河景区 Yulong He Jingqu /yoo-long her jing-chyoo/) after 2 km. Choose this detour to see more of the Yulong River at a popular and well-developed spot. To continue the circuit, follow the left fork for 500 meters and you will come to another fork. Take the right fork and after 300 meters you will reach the Giggling Tree, a Dutch-run countryside restaurant with good Western food.
After a further 150 meters you will reach another fork. The right fork will take you to Chaoyang Wharf on the Yulong River after 600 meters. Choose this detour to see more of the Yulong River with less distance and at a much quieter spot. To continue the circuit take the left fork and after 5 km (3 miles) and you will come to where the G321 again bridges the Yulong River.
You could continue this bike ride by combining it with the Yong Village Countryside Route, or just extend it a little by turning right and following National Road 321 for 2 km to iconic Moon Hill (and returning the same way). See the Yong Village Countryside Route for more on Moon Hill.
To complete the circuit turn left and follow National Road 321 back to Yangshuo. After 4 km (2.5 miles) you will come to a roundabout. Take the second exit (straight on) and follow Kangzhan Road (抗战路 Kangzhan Lu /kung-jan loo/) for 800 meters to the junction with Pantao Road and bear left. After 400 meters you will be back at the mouth of West Street.
The Yong Village Countryside Route
This route takes you out of Yangshuo on National Road 321 (G321) past a list of tourist attractions to Moon Hill, then through a series of small villages, nestling among karst hills and rice paddies on a loop back to Yangshuo.
- Total distance: about 26 km (16 miles) or about 17 km (11 mi) using the shortcut
- Time needed: half-a-day
From the Mouth of West Street (西街 Xi Jie /sshee jyeah/), turn left on Pantao Road (蟠桃路 Pantao Lu /pan-taoww loo/) for 400 meters and bear right onto Kangzhan Road (抗战路 Kangzhan Lu /kung-jan loo/). After a further 800 meters you will meet a large roundabout. Take the second exit (straight on) and you will find yourself on the G321, heading out of Yangshuo.
After almost 3 km (2 mi) you will come to Butterfly Spring (蝴蝶泉 Hudie Quan /hoo-dyeah chwen) on the right. (There is a huge model butterfly on a karst cliff marking the entrance to a cave and rope bridge walking route. Adults 35 yuan, children 18 yuan). 1 km on is the bridge over Yulong River, where you can see bamboo rafts finishing their tours.
300 meters on from the bridge on the right is the entrance to Big Banyan Tree Scenic Area (大榕树景区 Darongshu Jingqu /daa-rong-shoo jing-chyoo/). (Here you can see the celebrated 1,000-year-old spreading banyan and have a go at punting a bamboo raft on Jinbao River, a tributary of Yulong River. Entry 18 yuan.)
1.5 km (1 mi) on is Moon Hill Park (月亮山公园 Yueliang Shan Gongyuan /ywair-lyang shan gong-ywen/), on the right 50 meters after the left turn to Li Village (历村 Li Cun /lee tswnn/) tourist area. (Moon Hill Park offers a shady 10 or 15-minute climb on stone steps to the underside of the limestone arch, which is a hole all the way through the hill. Looking at this hole from different angles is like looking at different phases of the moon. A further short climb on a small steep dirt path will bring you to the summit, which offers a fantastic view, and a pitching point for abseiling used by the local climbing outfits.)
Next take the left from the G321 to Li Village tourist area. The first 200 meters are ok, but the ride through Li Village itself must be taken slowly and carefully as the narrow road is often clogged with coaches and ambling tourists. After 400 meters of busyness the road reaches a junction. The right fork offers some good views of Moon Hill from a quieter small road. To continue the circuit take the left fork and proceed 100 meters to a new and broad concrete road.
Turn left and follow the countryside highway for just over a kilometer. A right turn will bring you onto a rural road through three Zhuang minority villages. This road is currently (May 2011) undergoing improvements, so be prepared for roadworks. It is not easy to lose the way as long as you keep to the larger road at every fork. After 8 km you will reach Yong Village (勇村 Yong Cun /yong tswnn/) and the larger County Road 100 (X100).
Follow the X100 for 5 km (3 mi) to Aishan Village (矮山村 Aishan Cun /eye-shan tswnn/), where the X100 becomes a broad countryside highway. (If you are short of time you can use this new concrete highway to make a 5 km shortcut (instead of 14 km) from Li Village to Aishan Village, but this option is hardly as interesting.) Turning right follow the highway, which bridges the Yulong River after 700 meters. After a further 2 km you will reach Yangshuo's town limits, and 1.5 km later you will reach the G321 roundabout.
Take the first exit from the roundabout (take a right) and follow Kangzhan Road and Pantao Road back to the mouth of West Street.
The Baisha and Yulong River Route
This is a day of biking and rafting (take plenty of sun cream on a hot summer's day). Bamboo rafting and cycling are the classic ways to explore Yangshuo's idyllic countryside, and strapping your bike to a raft allows you to do both in one day!
Total distance: 16 km (10 mi) cycling and 3 or more hours (14 km) of rafting (with options for less rafting and more biking)
Time needed: half a day or more
From West Street (西街 Xi Jie /sshee jyeah/) turn right on Pantao Road (蟠桃路 Pantao Lu /pan-taoww loo/) and continue for 1 km to National Road 321 (G321). Turn right onto the G321 and follow it for 7 km (4 mi) to reach the edge of the market town of Baisha (白沙 /bye-shaa/ 'Whitesand'). After 1 km of Baisha's main street turn left down the X099 to the Yulong River (遇龙河 Yulong He /yoo-long her/ 'Meet Dragon River').
After about 1.8 km (1.1 mi), keeping left at the fork and leaving the larger X099, you will reach the legendary Yulong Bridge (遇龙桥 Yulong Qiao /yoo-long chyaoww/). It is said to be over 1,000 years old, and makes a great photograph with greenery hanging off the arch. From this ancient bridge you can take a bamboo raft down river.
A bamboo raft can take two passengers and two bikes, which are secured behind the bamboo reclined seats where the raftman punts the craft. The Yulong River has been engineered for slow rafting with a series of weirs, which rafts can slide over without losing their passengers! The 14 km (9 mi) journey can last 3 hours or more and finishes at the G321 bridge near the Big Banyan Tree (see Yong Village Route). It's a relaxing and fun way to enjoy the countryside.
You could choose to get off at Yulong River Scenic Area after about an hour's rafting, or at Chaoyang Wharf after about 2 hours' rafting, to do more biking through the countryside (see Yulong River Short Route, which can also be combined with rafting).
After disembarking, to complete the circuit, turn left and follow the G321 back to Yangshuo. After 4 km (2.5 miles) you will come to a roundabout. Take the second exit (straight on) and follow Kangzhan Road (抗战路 Kangzhan Lu /kung-jan loo/) for 800 meters to the junction with Pantao Road and bear left. After 400 meters you will be back at the mouth of West Street.
The Fuli and Xingping Route
This route offers a longer bike ride via Fuli (福利/foo-lee/) and spectacular mountain views to Xingping (兴坪 /sshing-ping/), reputed to mark the most beautiful stretch of the Li River.
Total distance: about 55 km (34 miles).
Time needed: half-a-day at fast pace with an early start, otherwise definitely a full day.
From West Street (西街 Xi Jie /sshee jyeah/), turn left on Pantao Road (蟠桃路 Pantao Lu /pan-taoww loo/) for 400 meters, and after passing between Pantao Hill and Bilian Hill turn left onto Guanlian Road (观莲路 Guanlian Lu /gwan-lyen loo/). After 600 meters keep on the higher right fork and in a further 200 meters you will come to some concrete vehicle barriers with gaps for bicycles.
Here you join Provincial Road 305 (S305), a broad road with non-motorized vehicle lanes at the sides. Turn left on the S305 and follow it over the Li River (a good place to stop and look at the view). After just over 6 km (4 mi) a steep right bend marks the edge of the market town of Fuli. (The Li River at Fuli is a peaceful pasture for grazing water buffalo. To see this classic rural scene, take the first right off the main street and follow Xifeng Street (西风街 Xifeng Jie /sshee-fnng jyeah/) for 1 km.) After 500 meters of Fuli's main street turn left onto the road to Xingping (a filling station marks the junction).
The road to Xingping is the X094, a narrow two-way road, frequented by tour coaches and private tourist transport. The scenery around Fuli is wonderful, and it continues for the full 20 km (13 mi) to Xingping. The X094 runs through a 2-km-wide valley between heavily-vegetated steep limestone hills.
From Xingping you could take a short cruise on the crème-de-la-crème of the Li River. Both bamboo rafts and motorized touring craft are available. The cruise is most atmospheric just after summer rain or in the early morning, when wreaths of mist cling to the peaks. Return by the same route.