7th May, 2009
There are two types of Bamboo Rafting in the Yangshuo area. You can take a motorized raft on the main Li River, or be poled down the Yulong River, one of its tributaries
Motorized Rafts on the Li River
A ride on a bamboo raft is a very relaxing way of enjoying the scenery here in Yangshuo. Just sit down and take in the views.
The bamboo rafts all sit at least 4 people comfortably. There are some with seats for more people, and these often have a canopy. Those with less seats can take bikes. It is defitinely a good idea to incorporate a bamboo raft trip as part of a day's bike ride; we do on many of our standard tours.
You can hire a raft to just cross the Li River at Yangshuo (the 'island' oppsoite makes a nice spot for a picnic - but be aware that there is no shade) or for longer. Generally, a two hour trip would be about the maximum.
Poling down the Yulong River
The Yulong River is a tributary of the Li River. It has become THE place to get on a bamboo raft and be poled down at a very gentle pace by a local farmer become boatman.
Various sections are open for business. Prices start at about 100 yuan.
The Yulong has a series of weirs (small dams) and your boatman will pole you down over these. Lifejackets are provided and we strongly suggest you wear yours.
You can take bikes on the raft and continue cycling at the other end - a great option that saves on transport costs.
Bamboo Rafting Rating
Where to bamboo raft
The guys over at Yangshuo Now have just published their September edition of their magazine. This edition focuses on many aspects of the Li River including the lesser know site of the Ling Canal. They also have the recipe for the local dish of stuffed snails. There is some fun stuff and some local news. To get your free copy, go over to their website www.yangshuo-now.com
The Provincial Government has implemented new rules on the Li River concerning the use of rafts. This is to benefit the well being of the Li River and its sustained use in the tourism industry.
How does it affect the visitors to this area? Basically, the local farmers can no longer do their own trips on the river, instead, all of the paying tourists must go through the one acredited company. Whether you go to Yangdi, Xingping or Liugong, you will need to pay the official price.
As of yesterday, it still wasn't very clear on how the pricing structure worked. We had 2 people book a raft from Yangdi to Xingping. The price was 120 Yuan per person for the trip plus an extra 25 yuan for each of the 2 empty places on the raft. I guess that if they had shared with 2 other people then they would not have had to pay for the empty places.
These new prices are a bit of a hike from the previous prices. I don't know if they will stay that high. It may be aimed at driving away the really lower end of the trade and make the river less busy and more enjoyable for those who want to pay up. Doing this raft trip is still much cheaper than doing the whole cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo which costs around 400 Yuan per person.
The original article where we got this information is here
Yangshuo has a brand new online magazine. It is full of interesting articles and useful hints.
You can download it from their website (www.yangshuo-now.com)
It is well worth a read
We had a terrific time visiting the Yangshuo area with the help and guidance of Yangers. We are so very grateful for all the effort that went into looking after us and making sure we got to experience to the fullest all that we wanted to do.
We had mentioned prior to our arrival of our desire to experience the local cusine --tasty local dishes. I don't think we had anything western the whole time we were there; it was just what we wanted. (We're convinced, however, that if all we had wanted was western food then our guide would have made sure we had only western.) Yangers went out of its way to tailor make our visit to our desires.
The care for our well being was always evident. It certanily was evident when Pat took ill while we were on the bike ride; nothing really serious (weakness due to the heat), but she simply would not be able to complete the ride. Our guide, Julie, got us effortlessly to a point of rest while she made alternative arrangments. Pat took a quiet, cool, relaxing bamboo raft to a little village on the river that was to be the terminal of the bike ride. While she was rafting regally down the river Julie and I finished the scenic bike ride. We met up at a cafe overlooking the river and enjoyed one terrific lunch of local dishes. We all then rafted back to Yangshuo. What could have been a wasted day turned out to be a fantastic experience.
Julie was a wonerfully personable guide. We had many moments of laughter and exchanges of life experience stories from our respective countries. She taught us a little Chinese while she sharpened her English.
We had a delightful hike along the river for the better part of one day. The water of the river being high, Julie had to alter the route several times, having us rafted back and forth across the river to avoid impassable trails. Gosh, that was such fun (although it was probably a lot of worry and work for Julie) and the scenery was gorgeous. Another terrific lunch that day as well, overlooking the river.
Yangers arranged for our tour of the rice terraces as well as the Yangshuo area and Julie accompanied us there, too. We are so glad we went there. The scenery was beautiful and Julie, once again, made sure we didn't bite off more than we could chew. She was very attentive. We had really only one day to see the terraces and the weather looked uncooperative but it cleared sufficiently by afternoon and Julie led us on an absolutely terrific walk. Somehow she knew to wait until afternoon. Others were meeting guides and heading out in the morning, in the fog, no doubt wasting hours walking and climbing and seeing nothing.
On our final day in the Guilin-Yangshuo-Rice Terraces area Ian of Yangers joined us and Julie for an excusion to the Ling Canal, an off the beaten track location that provided us with a wonderful experience of local life. I don't think we saw one westerner the whole day. The canal and abuting waterway was teeming with local life which is what we love to experience where ever we travel. We had the best ever noodle dishes for lunch in a "hole-the-wall" place along the canal.
We stayed at the fantastic Li River Retreat while in Yangshuo. What a great place. Large beautiful room. We ate at the Retreat every night because the food was so good. The scenery from our room was thrilling --and the air conditioning was a welcomed relief from the heat and humidity.
There is so much to mention. We certainly want to recognize Ian's help in securing domestic flight arrangments from Hong Kong into Guilin and out of Guilin to the Wuyuan area up near Shanghai. He got us in touch with folks up there who arranged our visit to villages around that area.
We've been on many trips around the world but this one was about the most satisfying and worry-free.