Yangshuo Day 01 & 02 – Treasure Cave


UNESCO Yangshuo (Mandarin: 阳朔) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is well-known for the thousands of karst peaks that seem to have suddenly erupted from the flat plains that surround them. Unique karst landscapes like this are produced when soluble rocks (200 million-year-old limestone in this case) are dissolved by the carbonic acid that is present in rainfall. Normally, just caverns and fissures are produced, but when the surrounding bedrock is also removed, tall limestone towers remain. According to the geologist Ray Beiersdorfer, four conditions are required:

First, you need hard, compact carbonate rock. In Guilin, it's Devonian limestone. Secondly, you need strong uplift, in this case provided by the collision of India with Asia to form the Himalaya. Third, you need a Monsoon climate of high moisture during the warmest season. Finally, the area must not have been scoured by glaciers, which this region wasn't.

Ray Beiersdorfer
The Yangshuo region is also fairly clean and relatively pollution free, which makes it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of China's major cities. The nearest airport is located in Guilin, but the bus transportation service departs from the airport directly and makes it very easy to cover the 75-kilometre journey to Yangshuo. The buses depart every few hours from 09:30 to 22:30, and all that one needs to do after collecting one's check-in luggage is to head to the bus ticket counter near the bus stop at the side of the airport, purchase the ticket for CNY50, and to wait for the bus to depart.

After an hour and a half, the bus should stop at the Yangshuo North bus station. Before it does however, a wonderful yet almost ghostly visage should unfold before you that is framed by the windows of the bus. Mounds and mounds of hills and towers abound, so much so that they sometimes seem to be stacked on top of each other. The limestone towers can be seen as far as the eye can see, their sides still lush with vegetation, and their tops hidden within the low-lying clouds. Paddy fields are ubiquitous in the plains below, and buildings would occasionally be nestled at the base of the towers.

Climbers Inn

The little hostel that is known as Climbers Inn (Mandarin: 攀岩客栈), is fairly well-known amongst the climbing community, and the owner, Lilly, makes everything so much easier. She speaks fluent English and is a veritable treasure trove of local climbing information--from where to go climb when it is raining, to how to best get there. Read the online reviews if you still need some convincing.

Climbers Inn
Contact Person: Lilly Liu

Address: 21 Guihua Road, 541900 Yangshuo

Address: 广西阳朔桂花路21号 邮编: 541900

Telephone: 86-773-8814370

Mobile: 86-1387-8379347

WeChat: 1387-8379347

Email: climbers-inn@hotmail.com

Getting There

We disembarked from the airport bus at the junction of Pantao Road and Diecui Road. We then walked north-east along Diecui Road (Mandarin: 叠翠路), but cut in to one of the smaller roads on our right until we reached Guiha Road (Mandarin: 桂花路) that runs parallel with the small creek in-between Diecui Road and West Street. Following Guiha Road north-east will bring you back to Diecui Road and ultimately to the much larger Li River, but you will pass an alley (right across from Insight) on your right just before this. This alley leads to Climbers Inn (Mandarin: 攀岩客栈).

The day had already started to wind down, and after paying for our room for the 8d/7n stay (CNY750/2) and after a short rest, we only had enough time for a quick wander around to look for some food. We settled for stir fry (CNY13) for dinner, which was an assortment of vegetables and a few pieces of meat piled into a bowl and fried, that was then accompanied with steamed rice.

Our favourite stir-fry place! The sign says (from left to right): authentic Guilin noodles; Xiang Jiang claypot rice; Yi Fa claypot rice

After dinner, we decided to head to the very popular West Street (Mandarin: 西街) that was located just behind the inn. The street was absolutely crammed full of people. We pushed through the throngs as best we could, and were forced to raise our voices just to be heard over the loud din. In the end, we found a shop that sold a map (CNY10/3) of Yangshuo that we decided to share, and I decided to try three sticks of meat (Mandarin: 羊肉串 - Yang Rou Chuan, CNY10) and some noodles (CNY6) for supper!

Next : Yangshuo Day 2 (Part 2) - Rain & More Rain

Rain & More Rain

It was raining the next morning, so we were forced to wait out the weather for a little while. As a result, we left around 11:00 which was fairly late, but in doing so managed to procure some tips from Lilly and purchase a second-hand Yangshuo rock climbing guide book (CNY80/2), proceeds of which were to go to the local bolting fund. Lilly also knew of a place nearby that rented out bicycles for CNY10 a day, so she called ahead and made sure that they had some available for us.

We cycled out of the hustle and bustle of Yangshuo, the route of which can be found in the movescount data below. Cycling helmets were not provided, so we had to resort to using our rock climbing helmets instead. We kept our bicycles on the dedicated red cycling lanes at the edge of the road, and cycled south past Sinopec petrol stations and the ubiquitous blocky white square buildings that had huge stamps on their walls.

Just after crossing the bridge that straddled the Yulong River, we passed the public park that housed the 'Big Banyan Tree'. This huge banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) was reputed to have been planted in the Sui Dynasty (581 - 618 CE), and if this were true, would mean that it was more than 1400 years old. Having been exposed to trees of all shapes and sizes over the years, with some in the Malaysian rainforests towering hundreds of metres above us, we felt that the CNY20 entrance fee (or any entrance fee for that matter) was not quite justified. We instead continued on and turned right at the junction just after the public park. The Treasure Cave limestone formation was quite apparent from the main road, and the sight of the opening to the cave itself spurred us onwards.

>The Treasure Cave limestone complex

The Treasure Cave limestone complex

We veered westward for another few kilometres before reaching a school. From there, we continued straight, still heading west, and reached the limestone complex of Treasure Cave soon after. By heading directly towards the cave opening, we were forced to cross narrow tracks that fringed numerous paddy fields (Oryza sativa), where numerous water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) languidly grazed. Eventually we realised that the terrain was getting a little too tricky for our bicycles, and also came to the conclusion that once we reached the crag, there would be no place to chain them. Doing so was something that everyone seemed to insist, so we ended up back-tracking a little to the dirt road just before the paddy field turn off, and found a 'Yangshuo Basecamp' information board where we could finally leave our bicycles safely.

>The Treasure Cave limestone complex

The 'Yangshuo Basecamp' information board where we secured our bright pink bicycles!

Water buffalo

Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)

Suunto Movescount Stats


Download file: Yangshuo - Treasure Cave Cycling.gpx

Next : Yangshuo Day 2 (Part 3) - Treasure Cave

Treasure Cave

We walked back towards the Treasure Cave and made our approach to the crag at the bottom of the slope below the cave itself. Most of the routes around the stairwell were graded from 6a+ to 6b, although there were some very easy ones, as low as 5, at the base of the staiwell. The problem was all of the routes were completely soaked. We climbed up the stairs and entered the gate, eager to at least attempt a few of the easier routes, but were ultimately forced to bail because they were all simply too slick. Apparently the moisture can sometimes blow into the cave when the rain is very heavy. Some of the ceiling routes looked like they would have been an absolute joy to climb, but all we could do at the time was to head back down to our bicycles.

The Treasure Cave

The Treasure Cave opening

The Treasure Cave

View from the Treasure Cave

The guidebook had mentioned that the neighbouring crag, 'Twin Gates Mountain', remained fairly dry in the rain. It was getting late, but we decided to cycle there to have a quick look nonetheless. We cycled back to the school and turned left there to head north. The gentle drizzle was surprisingly pleasant and cooling, and the towering karst towers that surrounded us left me feeling somewhat tranquil. Sacred Lotus flowers (Nelumbo nucifera) fringed the path, and I observed the water droplets from the drizzle sliding effortlessly down the large leaves to slowly accumulate in the centre. Lotus flowers have the ability to grow in all sorts of water conditions, and have been found to be able to remove heavy metals and other polluting compounds from the water!

I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained

11th century Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi
Sacred Lotus

Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

After having a quick look at the crags of Twin Gates Mountain , we made our way back to Yangshuo. We were tired and hungry, and just couldn't wait to dig in to another delicious meal of stir fry (CNY13)!

Suunto Movescount Stats


Download file: Yangshuo - Twin Gates Mountain.gpx

Day 1 & 2 Expenditure

Next (Day 03) : Pantao Hill