Li River Raft and Hike – Option 1
Option 1 (Raft and hike between Xingping village and Yangdi)
Time: 7.5 – 10.5 hours
Length: 90 km
This option is most recommended, because it includes enjoying in most attractive Li River section, both by raft and on foot. Rafting and hiking gives different perspective of the same river stretch, each spectacular on its own right. On raft, you can sit and relax while admiring this natural wonder without a fear that you will miss anything of the river. On the other hand, hiking is more dynamic, but also more enjoyable, because of opportunities for more peaceful exploration. As hiking trail don’t go along the riverbank all the time, you will miss some parts of the river, but you will get a chance to explore countryside of Li River, which is impressive almost as the river itself.
Yangshuo – Xingping village (bus; 45 minutes; 28 km; CNY7)
You should leave Yangshuo before 11:00, because it is going to be a long day. Buses from Yangshuo South bus station to Xingping run on every 15 minutes starting from 6:00 to 19:30.
Xingping village – Yangdi (raft; 1-2 hours; 15 km; CNY120-160 per raft)
Rafts between Xingping and Yangdi are often advertised as bamboo rafts, although there is nothing made of bamboo on them. Rafts have traditional design, but they are made of PVC pipes and powered by a long-tail motor, which can be quite loud. They are open-air, most of them have shade/rain covers and can board up to six people. Don’t hesitate to ask raft man to make stop along the river where ever you desire. Price for raft depends on a season, but expect to pay between CNY120 and CNY160. Be prepared to bargain.
Yangdi – Xingping village (walk; 4-6 hours; 22 km; CNY20 for river crossing)
Hiking trail is about 22 kilometers long and it will take between 4 and 6 hours to complete, depending on your physical condition. This hike is easy and can be done even by a people who are not in best shape. If you get tired at any point, you can always take a raft for the rest or part of the trip.
This route represents the essence of Li River, since during this exciting and one of the most popular walks you will cross the river for three times, using ferries or rafts and get to see even six traditional villages. The first crossing is at Yangdi dock.
After around 2.5 km walk after that you will come across Langshi Village, where you will have to cross the river for the second time, and you will reach the village named Quanjiazhou. The tickets for the first two crossings can be bought at the ticket counter in Yangdi for CNY16.
From there, you walk up to Lengshui Village, the third crossing of the river, which will take you to Nine Horse Fresco. Distance from Langshi Village to Lengshui Village is about 10.5 km. Lengshui village is at around two thirds of the Yangdi-Xingping trail. The ticket for the third ferry ride can be bought on the spot, and it costs CNY8.
When you make this third crossing of the river, you will get close to the station of electric vehicles that can take you to Xingping, and it is included in the price of the first two crossings. From Lengshui to Xingping is about 9 km distance, so the walk is highly recommended if you are able to. Right near Xingping, maybe 30 minutes before it, you will be amazed by the view portrayed on the backside of CNY currency of 20 Yuan.
It is interesting to know that the places around the river and the villages got their names usually after the animals or objects they are similar to. There are, for example, two hills above Yangdi and they form the shape of a sheep’s hoof, so that is how the town got its name; in Mandarin, Yangdi means “sheep’s hoof”.
Not every part of the trail is perfectly fit for walking, since there are some garden paths, while sometimes you will walk along the banks of the river, and some of the roads can be quite dirty. But, the fact that you will go through different villages that are full of natural beauties during this walk is appealing and exciting enough. You will enjoy the most famous scenery of the Li River – the Mural Hill (Jiu Ma Hua Shan), which together with the nine horses image create the perfect natural wonder, where all of the visitors compete in a way on how many of them they can recognize. Through the whole hiking trail of 6 hours and 22 km you will experience the nature at its best, enjoying the rice fields with farmers working on them, local orchards, water buffalo, and many more stunning sights. Though the whole hiking experience is enough by itself, what comes after you finish it is even more stunning and you get it as a reward. The closer you get to Xingping, the more breathtaking the landscape becomes. The village of Xingping itself is an incredible bliss, and do not hesitate to fully engage in it by just wandering around.
The main advice is: Do not start this walk before you prepare enough food and water, because you will definitely need a lot. You may come across certain Chinese restaurants and people selling food and drinks along the way, but they can be quite expensive sometimes, so it is important to be provided with your own snacks and a few bottles of water.
Xingping village (visit; at least 1 hour)
A village of Xingping can be fully explored in couple of hours, but in spite of being so small, it has a long and rich history, dating from 1506, so you will get to see many interesting things. It is full of different buildings made in architectural style of northern Guangxi Province from Qing and Ming dynasty period, and it offers spectacular views and wakes the ancient spirit of China inside of each person who visits it. The traditional houses usually have windows with carved patterns, typical flying eaves, horse head walls and painted rafters. It is one of those places where you just cannot put your camera down since it is surrounded by many glorious hills, especially so called Five Finger Hills that emphasize its traditional beauty. Of course, if you want to enjoy its serenity for more than just several hours, there are some accommodation options, which become more popular day by day, since many tourists decide to run away from the crowd to this oasis of tranquility.
This is the fishing village and it is how it got its name. The most interesting thing is that the locals use bamboo rafts instead of wooden ones when they go fishing, and that sight can also be quite appealing. You can experience fishing first hand, since they will be pleasured to take some of the tourist with them. However, Xingping is very often marked as town rather than village, since it largely developed in the recent years. It has its own market days, held two or three times a week, and it is quite full, not just with locals, but with villagers from the neighboring villages, since it’s a kind of circulating market of that area. Products offered on the market range from the local food specialties, through some handicrafts, handmade jewelry, to some quite interesting stone carvings.
Xingping village – Yangshuo (bus/raft: 45 minutes/2 hours; 25 km; CNY7/CNY180)
Last bus from Xingping to Yangshuo leaves at 19:00 (45 minutes; CNY7). If you miss last bus, you can take taxi to Yangshuo (30 minutes; around CNY100). If you don’t arrive too late in Xingping, you can even go to Yangshuo by raft (2 hours; around CNY180). This part of Li River is not as scenic as section from Yangdi to Xingping, so you will not miss too much.