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Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

Beijing, China
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Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

We just got back from 3 days in Yangshuo: travelling with my parents - in their late 70s, but in pretty good shape - and my two children (aged 8 and 11).

It is an amazing place to visit: the scenery is stunning and it's all very accessible. We rented bikes - cycling through the towns is certainly an adventure - imagine every cliche about the roads in China and then multiply by 10. Once out on the open road, or actually the back roads, things got a lot calmer.

Our first day's schedule was built around the standard tourist activities - bamboo rafting, visiting caves, climbing Moon Hill - but the prices, even by Western standards and even after considerable negotiation (I live in Hong Kong so I always haggle) were astronomical. The bamboo rafting was a particular rip off - the price was very high - Y300 per boat (got them down to Y200) for less than an hour; constantly stopping for dams at which photographers take your photo and then try to persuade you to buy.

So the next day we decided to just stick to cycling through the countryside, seeing how the Chinese live, eating at farmer's restaurants. We ended up at a little village called Fuji, I think, and from there we took a boat back to Yangshuo, for one quarter of the price of the previous day's bamboo raft.

We were recommended a wonderful, wonderful guide - Daisy - through our hotel and she really made all the difference. A young student from a local farming family, she had excellent English and really knew her way around.

She took us to great restaurants - the Farms Holday (sic) Inn was fantastic and she recommended another in Yangshuo which became our regular, Mimosa Cafe.

I'd definitely suggest using her and I've got her details for anyone who's interested.

Oh, we did go to the Liu Sanje show - not sure whether it's a must do - again, the price is quite high. It is definitely a visual treat - and also a cultural one - being part of a crowd of thousands all cramming in to the arena - I suppose maybe knowing a bit more about the story in advance would have helped us appreciate it a little more.

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hong kong
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1. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

Where did you stay in Yangshuo? I agree prices can rocket in and around Yangshuo depending on your skin colour.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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2. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

Yangshuo is one place where a guide can be useful especially if you pan to ride bike in the countryside and hope to make it back to the hotel.

I am surprised that you say that prices were astronomical. I find whenever I go there that it is so cheap compared to Beijing. I once managed dinner for 14 people for 210rmb!

Guides are usually cheap too. How much was her daily rate?

Beijing, China
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3. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

>>I agree prices can rocket in and around Yangshuo depending on your skin colour.

That's definitely the truth. I lived there for about a year, figured there's really about 5 different price categories you might pay, depending on who you are (cheapest to most expensive):

1) Local price (you can only get by speaking the local dialect and looking the part)

2) Out-of-town Chinese price (speaking Mandarin)

3) Mandarin or Dialect speaking foreigner price (harder to rip off, since they've probably been around the block a bit)

4) Typical foreigner (Can't speak Chinese)

5) Stupid foreigner (Doesn't try to bargain, just pays the hilariously inflated price as soon as it's said)

The price range can certainly vary by powers of ten...

Edited: 3:36 am, May 14, 2010
Beijing, China
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4. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

You guys just exaggerate the thing, and we all know that every tourism city or destination goes like that.

You can just hire a tour guide from the hotel you will stay, and generally they will recommend the right one who can help you save a lot of money if you are really not good at haggling.

Edited: 3:51 am, May 14, 2010
Beijing, China
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5. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

A few weeks later, in retrospect, most of the trip seems like amazingly good value: accommodation was fine for the money. Food was particularly well priced, particularly out of town. The price of our guide for the day was ridiculously cheap and she wouldn't even get the full amount, due to commissions etc. (You'd be a real cheapskate not to give an extremely generous tip).

I stand by my comments about the full-on tourist activities: as expensive as you'll find anywhere in the world - for cave visits the starting prices were a couple of hundred RMB... that's what you'd pay to go on the London Eye, or up the Empire State Building ... can't tell you whether it would have been worth the money as I decided not to fork out. And the bamboo trips felt like a real rort (as mentioned, the boat back from Fuji to Yangshuo was far cheaper and without the constant stopping for photographers, far more relaxed).

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6. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging


'' You guys just exaggerate the thing"

I have to agree with this comment and as fas being astronomical , well prices for the most part I felt were far from that.

The Yulong appears to be an exception but never did the trip instead we did Xingping to Yangdi by the bamboo ( pvc piping) motorised raft.

80 Yuan for 2 of us after some toing and froing and we thought that was excellent value and the boatman was happy as well.

We rented good geared bikes from our hotel for 20 yuan a day , nothing wrong with that. Fabulous fruit juices opposite the post office for less than 50 cents. Sure some will try it on but that's travel.

As usual "what is it worth to you "


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7. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

Hi there

I was just wondering if you could leave the bikes in Fuji (if yes where did you rent them in Yangshuo) or if you took them back on the boat?

Thank you and regards,


Beijing, China
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8. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

We stacked the bikes on the front of the boat and chugged them back up the river: it was a lovely way to travel and, as I've indicated in my original post, a much nicer experience and to my mind better value than the bamboo rafts.

We rented them from a place in Yangshuo which our guide took us to: just a guy on the side of the street, really.

No formal shop or anything like that. It was really cheap ... can't even remember how much, maybe Y10-20 per bike per day?

There are bike rental places all over town and so you shouldn't have any problems finding someone who'll rent at a decent price.

Actually, they didn't have a bike that was the correct size for my son, so I think they just grabbed one from the bike rental people over the road...

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9. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

Also headed to Yangshuo in mid October and would like to conact your guide Daisy if you think it would be advisable. We are flying in to Guilin late in the evening and plan to stay in the town (Jing Quon Ming Lou) before taking the ride on the river to Yangshuo after looking around Guilin in the morning. Assume we will arrive around 2:00. Staying outside of Yangshuo at the Mountain Retreat and thought of a quick bike ride somewhere for the sunset--thinking the hotel could give us an idea on that. The next day, our only full day in Yangshuo, is open for activity--like the idea of your ride to a village and then return by boat. Would Daisy be more helpful here? The last day in the area we plan to return to Guilin for anything we saw earlier that might be of interest before taking a flight out the next morning. We could stay longer in Yangshuo, a second complete day, if we can get to the airport for a flight to Xi'an. i haven't researched that far but I doubt it would be a problem as we are not concerned with what time of day we get to that city. Anyway, if you think Daisy would be helpful please send her address and any comments. Thanks. Jet

Beijing, China
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10. Re: Yangshuo: cycling, guide, price gouging

I've sent you Daisy's details.

I expect she can help you with all the things you want to do, evening and the next day. Of course your hotel will be able to arrange activities, though the prices are likely to be inflated.

We spent no time at all in Guilin, so I cannot advise whether you're better spending another day in Yangshuo or Guilin. My impression is that Guilin is more of a base from which to reach other places while Yangshuo is right in the heart of karst country.