Take a boat ride is a very good way to appreciate the dramatic karst landscapes in Yangshuo .. and a lot of people had ask a question.. to decide between taking a motorized raft ride from Yangdi to Xingping or taking a raft ride down the Yulong River.. Having taken both rides during my recent trip to Yangshuo, I would recommend traveler to take both, as each bamboo rafting unique in its own way. And I would say it was a wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful and peaceful karst mountain scenery.
Li River Cruise (from Yangdi to Xingping)
One of the most popular ways to soak up the scenery of Yangshou is to take a bamboo raft down the Li River, between Yangdi and Xingping which claim to be the most beautiful part of the river cruise. Yangdi and Xingping was actually in between Guilin and Yangshuo, so we took this ride during our transfer from Guilin to Yangshuo. Our driver just dropped us at the Yangdi pier, we took the bamboo raft to Xingping, and the driver picked us to proceed to Yangshuo.
These bamboo rafts are actually big PVC pipes with awnings, wooden benches like you would have in your back yard and a motor. The boat ride on Li river is pretty noisy although the scenery there is marginally prettier. At each turn of the boat raft, we could see different scenes of the river and the mountain karst. It really seems like a Chinese painting. The shape of hills are blur, the river are green. The water is surprisingly clear and shallow that we can even see the weeds inside the river.
Along this part of Li river you can see mountains with different names and characters that tell a simple story. Our guide, Amy was very informative and friendly, chatting along the way and showing us the odd mountain that always resemble something, a horse, dolphin, or even turtle. One of the things that I still remember about the scenery is the “Nine Horses Painted Hill”. To find out the nine horses in different poses on the wall is always the joy for people on cruise. Amy told us that is said that if you can figure out the nine horses, you will be rich and intelligent in the feature.
Yulong River Bamboo Rafting
The pretty Yulong River valley is said to rival the Yangdi-Xingping stretch in terms of beauty. The size of the mountains may not be so impressive but the river is more quiet – no cruising boats like on the river Li – ideal for sightseeing the magnificent scenery. This fact had made Yulong River Bamboo rafting is one of the famous tourist attraction in Yangshuo, even during non-peak season, be prepared to see a lot of rafts covering most of the water.
We went there early morning to miss the crowds, and we did a right planning. The vendors were still setting up so we weren’t bothered. As we were the first customer of the day, for the 2hours of bamboo raft ride, we had the whole river all to ourselves, and it offered us the real Yangshuo experience – peace, tranquility, beautiful scenery and a taste of the original bamboo raft ride. It was very peaceful and worth every cent of the price that we paid for it. Especially early in the morning, when the mist cover the mountain it looks surreal and unbelievably beautiful which is why we come here for.
Taking the 2hour bamboo raft ride down the Yulong River – stunning scenery, will be an experience you’ll never forget! The rafts here are navigated by a local and just zips along with the current. This means one can sit back and enjoy the magnificent Karst scenery in relative peace and quiet. Our raftmen even let us try to steer a little. While floating along the Yulong river, there are many platforms selling food or taking photos of you to sell to you. The exciting part were the breakwaters. They were like small waterfalls where you need to lift both your legs when the raft gliding down the edge.
My overall view..
I my opinion, the portion of the Li River from Yangdi to Yangshuo is the most scenic due to the close proximity to the mountain karst, but the Yulong River ride is more relaxed and just as beautiful due to beautiful reflection at the calm water.
The Li river trip, although you get to see the scene on the RMB20 note, is a noisy affair as all of the plastic rafts are engine powered and there are a lot of them. The Yulong river is much more intimate. Punted along by a local on a bamboo raft you get to take in the stunning scenery in an air of serenity.
But overall, both was a tranquil, very scenic, very enjoyable ride.
- Make sure you wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet! Don’t wear shoes. Wear something easy for you take off and soaked your feet into the clear water
- Its safer arrange your ride with the tour company or a local guide. There is a lot of horrible reports by independent travellers been left in the middle of Yulong river by the raftmen when travellers refuse to entertain them to buy them (over-priced) food and drinks.
- For muslims, bring your own food and drinks. 2hour journey for each rides can be quite tiring.
- Although the bamboo raft had umbrellas to cover you from the hot sun, please apply the sun block.