Nestled 70km south of Guilin on the Li River, in the thick of China's most spectacular karst scenery, YANGSHUO, meaning Bright Moon, has become a rowdy draw for domestic tourists, with the majority of its bars, restaurants and shops catering to their tastes. It remains, however, an easy place to spend a few days: hills surround everything, village lanes swarm with activity, and there are restaurants and accommodation everywhere. You can rent a bike and spend a day zipping between hamlets, take a cruise along the Li River, or hike around or go rock climbing on nearby peaks, or study cooking or martial arts.
Yangshuo has few formal attractions but there's plenty to explore. The produce market is an interesting place to hang out, with a good selection of game, fruit, nuts and mushrooms, laid out on sheets in the street here – look out for rats and pheasants, fresh straw and needle mushrooms, and spiky water caltrops, which contain a kernel similar to a Brazil nut. West off Diecui Jie is Yangshuo Park (¥6), a pleasant place in summer with its colourful formal garden and breezy vantages of town from pavilions lodged on the main rise. Squeezed between the highway and the river is Green Lotus Peak, the largest in the immediate area – there's a track to the top off the highway east of the post office, but it involves some scrambling. An easier path (leading to better views) ascends Pantao Shan from behind the market. Otherwise, just walk upstream from Yangshuo for a kilometre or two and take your pick of the rough trails that scale many other slopes.