Shangri-la: Yangshuo, China
Sunday 27 January 2008
With China bunged up with visitors during this year's Olympics, tourists will be looking to travel to its more far-flung regions. Yangshuo has become Asia's new Kathmandu, a destination with a pastoral patchwork of fields, rivers and limestone peaks about which adventurers talk with misty eyes.
Once famous only for its kumquats, Yangshuo is in the southerly Guangxi Province, some 50 miles from China's most eulogised tourist spot, Guilin. Lying on the banks of the Li river, Yangshuo is surrounded by immense, mossy limestone pinnacles. The main street, Xi Jie, nestles in the shade of the mighty Green Lotus Peak and is packed with restaurants, cafés and bars, and full of friendly, entertaining local characters. There may be pizza and burgers beginning to appear on menus here but there are plenty of local dishes to savour.
Yangshuo is also great for shopping. You can have a silk dressing gown made to measure in a matter of minutes and there is an abundance of Ming vases and "antique" ginger pots to haggle over. The place is also rife with watercolour artists and calligraphers. Visit the bustling market to see brilliant orange kumquats and mandarins sitting cheek by jowl with tiny fluffy chicks in wicker baskets.
But the most outstanding facet of Yangshuo is the surrounding countryside. Expect layer upon layer of misty peaks, vivid green rice paddies, pure white ducks sailing on moon-shaped ponds, and ancient rickety wooden bridges spanning crystal-clear rivers. Ian McCurrach '
Wendy Wu Tours offers a 27-day fully inclusive China Highlights tour taking in Yangshuo from £1,990 per person (based on two sharing, including return international flights, guiding, entrance fees and all transfers), 0844 499 3899, www.wendywutours.co.uk
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