The Yulong River in Yangshuo — a Great Place for Bamboo Rafting

The Yulong River, known as 'the Little Li River', is a tributary of the Li River. It starts in Northern Yangshuo County. Featuring the dramatic karst landscape, silky water, and ancient bridges, the river is a great place for bamboo rafting.

  • Chinese: 遇龙河 Yùlóng Hé /yoo-long her/ 'meeting dragon river'
  • Length: about 43 kilometers (26 miles)
  • Popular activities: bamboo rafting, cycling, hiking, and photography
  • Suited to: nature lovers, families with children, backpackers
  • Time needed: 2–3 hours
The Yulong RiverThe Yulong River

Things to See Along the Yulong River

The essence of the Yulong River is between Yulong Bridge and Gongnong Bridge, about 13 kilometers (8 miles). The breathtaking scenery is like a traditional ink masterpiece.

Natural Landscape

The landscape is decorated with rolling karst hills, green bamboo forests, water buffaloes wandering the fields, farmers tending the rice paddies, fishermen gliding along on their narrow bamboo rafts, village women washing clothes beside the river, and kids swimming in the water… Delight in the idyllic scenes of simple rural life.

Historical Attractions

Yulong RiverThe natural landscape along the Yulong River

Besides the natural scenery, the historical attractions along the river will enrich your trip. Yulong Bridge, Fuli Bridge, and Xiangui Bridge are the three most famous ancient bridges over the river. They provide perfect spots for photography.

Jiuxian Village is worth a visit with its well-preserved architecture dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD). The village is very quiet far from the bustle of Yangshuo town. You can walk along the small cobbled alleyways and soak up the ancient building ambience.

Three Ways to Enjoy the Scenery

Bamboo Rafting — the Most Popular Way

The most popular way to enjoy the scenery of the Yulong River is to take a bamboo raft. Even if you have experienced a cruise or bamboo rafting on the Li River, you should not miss this smaller, quainter river.

The longest raft route starts at Jinlong Bridge and ends at Gongnong Bridge. It takes about 6 hours. Most visitors prefer to choose a shorter section of the river for a raft ride.

Three popular rafting routes:
1. Upper Yulong rafting: Jinlong Bridge – Jiuxian Village, about 2½ hours
2. Lower Yulong rafting: Chaoyang Wharf – Gongnong Bridge, about 2 hours
3. A shorter rafting: Chaoyang Wharf – Shui edi Dock, about 1 hour

Please note that people who are more than 70 years old or less than 7 years old are not allowed to take a bamboo raft.

Cycling — Welcomed by Young People and Families

Yangshuo countryside cycling Yangshuo countryside cycling

The Yulong River is a classic cycle route in Yangshuo. In a 2–4-hour biking tour, you will be rewarded by beautiful scenery combining karst hills, green water, and ancient villages. It is very convenient to rent a bike around West Street.

For more information, see Biking in Yangshuo.

Hiking — Get Close to Nature

The most in-touch-with-nature way to appreciate the beauty of the Yulong River is hiking. The small countryside trails will take you through rice paddies, lush green mountain scenery, and fruit orchards. The most popular section is from Yulong Bridge to Gongnong Bridge, about 6 kilometers (4 miles). It takes about 2 hours.

For more, see Yulong River Hiking.

Yulong River Bamboo Rafting vs. a Li River Cruise

Yulong River bamboo raftingYulong River bamboo rafting

The Li River and Yulong River attract thousands of visitors with their picturesque karst scenery, and they each offer different experiences of Guilin's countryside.

There are two ways to appreciate the scenery of the Li River: cruise boats and motorized rafts. Click to see an insider’s guide to the Li River.

While the boats and rafts on the Li River have motors, pipe and bamboo rafts on the Yulong River are punted slowly by a man with a pole, for an altogether quieter experience. The rafts just float down the river and can pause in any place you want.

The mountains along the Yulong River may be not as impressive as the ones along the Li River, but the river is much quieter and more rustic. You can sit back and soak up the idyllic scenery in an air of serenity.

Both rivers have their advantages. If you want to experience an original bamboo raft ride, try the Yulong River bamboo rafting. For a more varied landscape with towering karst mountains, a motorized bamboo raft or cruise along the Li River is recommended.

The Best Times for a Visit

The Yulong River

The high season for visiting the Yulong River is from April to October when the weather is mostly sunny and warm and suitable for outdoor activities. The best time is probably late summer for pleasant warmth and less rain, though the mists and fresh growth in spring also have their charm.

Rain increases to torrential downpours on some days up until the end of May, and decreases from then on. The occasional thunder showers in August usually dry up in an hour or so. On some days, particularly in May and June, it may be too inclement, and the Yulong may be too fast and high, for rafting to be as enjoyable or safe.

Try to avoid Chinese public holidays, such as Labor Day week (May 1 to 7) and National Day week (October 1 to 7), when Yangshuo is always crowded with Chinese people.

Travel Essentials for Planning a Trip

  • For Jinlong Bridge (about 12 km / 7 mi west of Yangshuo): Take a Yangshuo–Jinbao minibus for about 25 minutes, or rent a bicycle at West Street and ride there via Baisha.
  • Jiuxian Village is about 7 km / 4 mi west of Yangshuo.
  • For Yulong Bridge (about 6 km / 4 mi west of Yangshuo): Rent a bike and follow the country roads. It takes about half an hour. (You can put bikes on the back of a raft, or arrange for their transport.)
  • For Chaoyang Wharf (about 5 km / 3 mi west of Yangshuo): as for Yulong Bridge
  • Gongnong Bridge (about 5 km / 3 mi south of Yangshuo): Most rafting finishes here on the large, newly-upgraded and cycle-laned G321 road.
  • Open: all year, but rafting stops in thunderstorms
Yulong River rafting

Touring the Yulong River

No visit to Guilin is complete if you don't visit the Li River. Similarly, no visit to Yangshuo is complete if you don’t visit the Yulong River. Here are our most popular tours including the Yulong River for your reference:

The above are sample tours and can be modified according to your interests and requirements. Please contact us and we will design a tour uniquely for you.