Pantao Hill is a karst tower that overlooks the town of Yangshuo, and affords amazing views of the town nestled cosily in-between the hills. The hike up to the peak makes for a nice and short excursion, and gives your climbing
muscles some time to recover. The path itself can be quite tedious to locate as there are no signs that point the way, but you shouldn't have too much trouble if you follow the directions below.
*Cick here to learn more about the difficulty rating.**Despite the incline, the rating for the terrain was reduced due to the stairwell that leads to the peak
Make your way to Pantao Road, and start walking westward towards the market. Once you are past the market you should see a blue sign that says 'Tianma Xiang'. Turning left at the alley next to the Postal Savings Bank of China will bring you to the base of the hill and the trail head, but before you get there you will need to meander a little through smaller alleyways that will gradually make their way uphill. If at all uncertain, just be sure to ask people for directions to the hill. Most of the locals will know exactly why you are there.
We woke up early that morning, eager to start the day, but to our dismay we found that it was raining once again. We ended up waiting it out and only leaving around 10:00. Before we set off to the trail head, we made sure to head out and get bao (Mandarin: 包, CNY4
) for a late breakfast. We made our way to the market along Pantao Road and cut in to the back alleys, gradually pushing further and further in towards the rock. We passed a fair number of people, most of whom seemed fairly amused to see us for some reason. Perhaps it was because it had started to drizzle once again.Beginning of the stairwell
We eventually arrived at the stone stairwell
that ascended up the hill. The drizzle had turned into rain by now and small rivulets of water were sent cascading down the steps. We began the climb with our heads bowed low to escape the rain, and followed the path past the many switchbacks. Each time we glanced to look out over the town of Yangshuo, we found that the thick mist had resolutely shrouded the views from us. We could however, focus on the small things next to and under us: the caterpillars, spiders, bees, and butterflies; as well as the occasional gravestone and random signs such as "Important machinery, no visitors" that were etched into the rock.The slippery stairwell; one of many door snails (Tropidauchenia sp.) that were attached to the rocks
Before we knew it, we had reached the gate at the top of the hill, and the climb had only taken us 30 minutes at an easy pace. The low-lying clouds had completely rolled in by then and had obscured everything, so instead of entering the gate and paying the CNY10
that the caretaker was asking for, we decided to wait for a short while to see if the clouds would clear. They didn't.The rain had stopped by the time we began the decent, but the stairwell was still wet and slippery. The mechanical drone of cicadas (Family : Cicadidae
) all around us would ebb and flow, slowly building up before easing off once again. The mist slowly dispersed as we made our way down, and revealed a wonderful view of the countless karst towers that hugged the town of Yangshuo and the Li River way down below.By the time we reached the base of the hill, we had already decided that we were going to head up the hill once again for the sunset. But for now, were eager to dig in to a late lunch of rice with stirfry (CNY13
)!The view of Yangshuo way down below
That evening, we made our way back to the stairwell and began to hike up Pantao Hill once again. The skies were now clear and the weather was good, so decent views stayed with us throughout. The hike up was very easy the second time around as we knew exactly what to expect. A tiny orb weaver (Cyclosa sp.) with its legs tucked inLeaf Beetle (Family : Chrysomelidae)
We paid the entrance fee this time around, but managed to get it down to CNY5
. We made our way through the compound and to the concrete platform at the end for some excellent views of the town. The sunset was not too spectacular and was almost as if someone just dimmed the lights. The vibrancy of the city, on the other hand, was something else. As the sky darkened, lights began to light up one by one, eventually merging into one another and becoming a glowing network of fluorescence.We decided to try something different for dinner this time around, and wondered over to West Street. We eventually found our way out of the throngs of people, and settled for a huge meals of claypot with rice, which cost CNY15
per person.The view of Yangshuo after sunsetWest Street