Yulong River, also known as the Dragon River is the biggest branch of the Li River, but it provides a completely different experience and therefore is also worth visiting. It can be visited by bicycle or on foot, even though the bicycles are recommended, as they can be used for visiting a major part of the river. These two rivers have similar nature, yet Yulong is narrower, without motorized rafts and large boats. For both of them we can say that they are paradise on earth, without exaggerating. This is the place where you will get the impression that the nature reached its peak while being amazed with the green plains spreading out in front of you with villages placed on them. Bamboo forests and rice paddies are also quite typical for this area. Yulong River represents a perfect harmony where all, fishermen, water buffaloes and ducks can enjoy the same place and spend their time.
What you definitely should not miss is a ride with bamboo rafts, since they can be an adventure on their own. You can bring food and drinks on the rafts, and even try handling the poles. The water can be quite surprising at some points, since there are over 20 dams along this waterway. However, there is nothing to be afraid of, since the rafts men are skillful and will tide you over these several meters of high dams before you get to the “safe zone” again. You will not mind the splashing of the water since they come as instant refreshment. There are different starting points along the river, so it can take from half an hour to 5 hours to complete the ride. In contrast to the rafts on the Li River, the ones on Yulong River are authentic, made of bamboo without engine, so they move by using the flow of rivers and the poles. As a result, they slide down the river without the noise, allowing the full enjoyment of going through the river in peace. Yulong River is not just clean and safe for swimming during the summer, but most people find it more enjoyable to refresh here than in Li River. So while cycling or rafting you can make a break for swimming. However, river currents should be payed attention to.
The most popular and probably the most beautiful section of the river is from Chaoyang dock (朝阳码头) to Gongnong Bridge, but it’s quite crowded in the season when there can be hundreds of rafts. Also very popular is the section from Yulong (Dragon) Bridge to Gongnong Bridge. Still, it is highly recommended that you start from Fuli Bridge, located about 2 km upstream from Yulong Bridge. This is one of the most interesting bridges, but it is outside the usual tourist routes, so it can be enjoyed in peace. This trail is the best to be visited with bicycle and raft combined, but those who prefer walking can walk instead of using the bicycle. The trail along the Yulong River is easy and not difficult for bicycles or for walking. The river is 43.5 km long, with general width of 20 to 30 m, while the maximum depth is 5 m.
There are many ways of exploring the river, and the prices given here are for reference only, and they depend on seasons, while bargaining is also possible.
Option 1 (Bike/bus to Fuli Bridge; Raft/bike/hike from Fuli bridge to Gongnong Bridge)
Time: 6 – 7.5 hours
Length: 36.5 km
Costs: CNY140-340, without cost for bike renting
This Option will take you whole day, but it is highly recommended because you will cover best sections of Yulong River and its countryside.
Check Option 1 for more details.
Option 2 (Bike to Chaoyang dock; Raft/bike from Chaoyang dock to Gongnong Bridge)
Time: 3.5 hours
Length: 20.5 km
Costs: CNY150, without cost for bike renting
If you don’t want to spend whole day on Yulong River, you can do only most popular stretch of Yulong River from Chaoyang dock to Gongnong Bridge. This section is probably most scenic, but it is crowded and you will miss lovely Jiuxian ancient village.
Check Option 2 for more details.