The main strip of Yangshuo, West Street, is easily travelled on foot, but if you want to explore the region in depth, arrange a hire car with your hotel - there are no rental offices at the airport. Locals tend to go by bike or scooter - available to rent by the day at various stalls along the street.
Most domestic, and a handful of international airlines (including AirAsia and Bangkok Airways) fly frequently to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, an hour or so by car from Yangshuo. Arrange transfers before you travel as there's no airport express services. Flights between Chinese cities have a somewhat loose notion of timetabling, so double-check flight times where possible.
Country code for China: +86; area code for Yangshuo: 773.
Do go / Don't Go
The spring months between March and May are both the most pleasant and the busiest times to visit. Winter, between December and February, when the chill sets in. Summer months can also be on stifling side, thanks to the combined heat and humidity.
Don't expect anything too haute: Yangshou dishes are known for rustic flavours, with zesty herbs and tangy, spicy touches that stem from the notion that sour tastes are good for the appetite in warm months and spiciness warms the body when it gets wintry. Beer fish is a local speciality - freshly caught fish (sometimes duck) from the Li River are with stir-fried colourful vegetables, tomato and capsicum and simmered in a beer gravy, resulting in a piquant and malty fish stew, served with a steaming rice bowl. The river also offers up freshwater snails to the county's kitchens; these are minced with mint and pork and cooked in the shell. If you're not squeamish when it comes to cuisine, have a wander through the Yangshuo Night Market and pick up a portion of snake meat, another local delicacy.
Cabs are thin on the ground in this town, and most often take the form of three-passenger motor-tricycles, which you can - if you're lucky - flag down in the street. They're available to hire for around CNY20 for a single trip, or CNY80 for the whole day.
Tipping in Yangshuo, like most cities in China, is not expected, though very much appreciated, at hotels. Most restaurants do not include service charges and don't require at tip.
The Renminbi (literally 'people's currency) is most commonly known as the Yuan (CNY).
Bring your brollies; Yangshuo is prone to quick and frequent showers during most months. If you intend to climb or hike any mountains), and this is the part of China to do exactly that), bring warm clothing - the higher you go, the colder it gets.
The nighttime performance of Impression Liu Sanjie is a reason to visit Yangshuo by itself. Directed by renowned Chinese auteur Zhang Yimo, (the man behind Hero and House of Flying Daggers) and starring more than 600 local fishermen and community members, the riverside performance is an operatic spectacle of colourful choreography, stunning framed by 12 mist-shrouded crags. Smith tip: ask your hotel for the cheaper tickets for a more panoramic view of the show and the surrounding karsts.
Over a thousand years old, West Street is still Yangshuo's most vibrant shopping stretch, chock-a-block with souvenir shops, quaint cafes, restaurants, and bars. Touristy trinkets abound, and hawkers regularly play fast and loose with the term 'antique'. Be prepared to haggle down to at least half-price on any knick-knacks you're keen pick up. Jeomon (63 West Street; +86 773 889 2000) is a small boutique selling well-crafted chopsticks made from almost every variety of wood imaginable. Vanishing Tribes (www.vanishingtribes.com) offers a huge selection of ethnic apparel and craftworks from the Guangxi region's indigenous tribespeople.
Pull on your roaming boots and hike yourself up for a 30-minute trek up Green Lotus Peak, named in honour of its resemblance to a giant lotus emerging from the water. You can soak up panoramic views of the Li River and the historic city. A camera is essential, or, if you have time, a canvas. If the hiking aspect is a turn-off, the pagoda on the hill in at Yangshuo Park offers splendid views of the surrounding town.
One of Yangshuo's most spectacular sights, Moon Hill derives its name from a natural moon-shaped hole in the middle of the karst peak. It looks spectacular from a distance, but get up close to arch by taking the 600-marble stairs leading directly to the cave.
June-July Also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, Duan Wu Jie is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar and commemorates the death of China's first famous poet. Participants mark the event by eating rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and holding dragon boat races. September-October Held when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and brightest, the Mid-Autumn Festival sees families and friends gather in the evening to nibble on sweet mooncakes (a round, thick biscuity pastry filled with lotus or red-bean paste and a salted egg yolk centre) and to admire the swollen moon. In the evening, single young men and women of the Zhuang minority group gather at Moon Hill to belt out traditional love songs in the hopes of attracting a mate. November The Yangshuo Fishing Lantern Festival sees fishermen from nearby villages cast off into the Li River in the evening, their boats illuminated by lantern light. In the town centre, West Street comes alive with a street fair, games and colourful performances.