The hike started in Yangdi, China, a small fishing village on the banks of the Li River, about 45 minutes from Yangshuo town proper.
Despite the rainy conditions, we decided to go through with the hike.
Chinese hawkers are ALWAYS prepared – they have mastered the business strategy of having exactly what you need, when you need it. When it’s cold they’ll sell something warm, when it’s raining they’ll be standing next to you selling umbrellas and rain coats.
I bought a cheap rain coat to counter the misting rain.
One of my favorite things about hiking, walking, or doing any sort of outdoor exercise while traveling is that it heightens the hunger, and one can feel better about devouring gigantic feasts afterwards.
I often try to walk as much as possible so I can justify things like eating as much Hong Kong street food as possible in 3 days or engorging myself on a stunning Chinese meal.
Before beginning the hike, we enjoyed a little mini feast of steamed buns, known as “boauzi.” The cinnamon roll looking bun, filled with sticky rice and beans was delightful!
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Due to maintenance on the trail that day, we had to do things are little different from the normal route.
The first part of the hike was to cross the Li River on a ferry. From there we started walking before coming to a small ancient village where we had to cross back over the river on a bamboo raft and reconnect with the normal trail.
We passed quite a few old small villages, houses and farms – and of course I stopped to take loads of photos of cool things like the bright redness of this rooster’s comb.
The views from the main trail were spectacular. We navigated our way on small garden paths, attempting to ingest as much of the gorgeous scenery as possible.
In every direction, the views were mind blowing. We were nested in the Li River valley, so there were dramatic stone formations on all sides of us.
Walking through small villages and local farms presented an awesome opportunity to analyze some of the crops. Rice was everywhere to be seen, but other vegetables and spices were scattered along the fertile banks of the river.
Sesame seeds are perhaps my favorite little seed. Their distinct flavor is marvelously complementary in food, especially on top of things like grilled chicken or in sesame seed candy.
The views along the trail continued to leave me holding my breath in amazement, the reaction that can only result from seeing something like the Batad rice terraces.
It felt like I was tossed into the midst of an ancient Chinese water color landscape painting. The mystical karst limestone peaks, the eerie water and the soft lofty clouds added to the peaceful natural setting.
The beauty of the region was first hand evidence of how so many Chinese artists over so many dynasties have been inspired to create masterpieces around that exact area.
About 3 hours down the trail we came to a giant rock mountain known as 9 Horses Rock. You are supposed to be able to see 9 horse faces within the face of the stone, though I could only really pick 1 out. It might take a stretch of imagination to find them all!
At 9 Horses Rock we boarded another ferry to get across the Li River once more and continue on to the final stage of the hike from Yangdi to Xingping.
By mid afternoon we had completed all 25 kilometers of the hike and arrived in the charming ancient town of Xingping.
Hike From Yangdi to Xingping
Here’s how to take the hike:
- Bus from Yangshuo to Yangdi (9.5 CNY) – the bus will drop you off on the banks of the Li River, right where you begin the hike.
- There are signs that direct you where to go (when I went we had to take a small detour, due to construction, though hopefully that will be cleared up), or you can ask a local there to show you the way.
- Follow the river upstream. Some parts of the trail are garden paths while other parts involve walking along the banks of the river or even following a dirt road. When you arrive at 9 Horses Rock, you know you are heading in the right direction and not too far from Xingping.
- You may need to take 1 – 2 ferry rides to cross the river depending on what route you take. Ferry rides can cost 4 – 10 CNY per person.
- Once you arrive in Xingping, head to the bus station, near the old quarter of town and catch a bus back to Yangshuo (9.5 CNY)
- The hike takes around 4 – 6 hours and covers a distance of around 25 km.
You can’t really get lost as long as you just follow the river upstream. Bring a few bottles of water and some snacks. There are a number of restaurants along the way, but they are quite pricey.
If you have a spare day around the Yangshuo area, the hike from Yangdi to Xingping is worthwhile!