A boat trip down the Li River is the main reason so many tourists from around the world descend on this little subtropical corner of China every year. Dozens of boats leave every morning from Guilin for the four hour cruise along the pea-green Li River to Yangshuo-the self-proclaimed backpacker and adventurer’s paradise.
Four teachers and 29 secondary students from our international school in Qingdao made the trip on the second of our four days in the south. After the journey, most visitors stroll around Yangshuo, have lunch, shop on West Street and take the two hour busride back to Guilin. We stayed the night and gave Yangshuo a closer and more relaxed look.
Along the wide river, we passed numerous waterfalls, small fishing villages with pontoon boats lined up along the shore and local people tending to their daily tasks, smoke rising from open wood fires. Water buffalo stand chewing grass at the edge of the river, and kids oblivious to the tourists boats ambling by all day, every day. The star of the show remains the mountains themselves looming around every bend in the river and remarkably pristine, thick with trees, birds and bamboo and largely undisturbed by humans.