Seasoned travellers to Guǎngxī spend little time in Guìlín, preferring to make Yángshuò their base, though many of these veterans will gripe about Yángshuò’s lack of authenticity – ‘too many tourists’, they complain. And they’re right: the town, once peaceful, is now a messy, smoggy collage of Chinese tour groups, bewildered Westerners, discos, pole-dancing bars, bad traffic and the glue that binds any tourist hot spot together – touts.
Outside of town however, Yángshuò’s dramatic karst landscape is surreal and the stuff of Chinese landscape paintings. Take a bamboo-raft ride or cycle through the dreamy valleys and you’ll see. There’s s host of well-run courses and activities to keep you occupied far beyond your original intended length of stay. Travelling with kids is easy here. It’s one of the more family-friendly Chinese destinations, with English-speaking locals, well set-up hostels and food for the finicky.