Yangshuo, where free spirits gather

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Nestled in rolling mountains and bordered by the Li River on one side, Yangshuo County in Guilin has long been a travel destination teeming with international backpackers. However, as contradictory as it may sound, the quiet alleys of Yangshuo, a place well-known for the beauty of its traditional way of life, hide numbers of Western-style pubs that seduce travelers with Western music and modern ways of thinking.

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West Street used to be where backpackers gathered after a day of hiking or swimming. But as nowadays the pubs on this street overflow with noisy sightseers, another sanctuary has emerged – Osmanthus Street, or Guihua Street in Chinese.

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Among the many pubs scattered along Osmanthus Street, Kaya stands out for its reggae theme and Jamaican flavor. In fact, the pub is named after an album by legendary Jamaican singer Bob Marley. In addition to the reggae played as background music all year round, domestic and foreign bands also perform in the pub regularly, making it a constant draw for music lovers.

Another place worth mentioning is Nana Inn, a hostel chain that won a good reputation among backpackers from its branch in Xiamen, a tourist city favored for its coastal allure. Nana Inn in Yangshuo is sought after by tourists for its rooms facing the Li River and user-friendly accommodations, such as self-service kitchens. But the rates are between 200 to 500 yuan, a bit higher than the market price.

Finding a nice place to eat dinner is never difficult in Yangshuo. If you wish to try Western food in particular, Rosewood is the place to be. The restaurant is owned by Nicolas, a French chef who settled down in Yangshuo and prospered in the restaurant business. He is also the manager of a popular pub on West Street. In pleasant weather, Rosewood’s open-air dinning area is an ideal place to take in Yangshuo’s peacefulness while enjoying some of the best French cuisine the county has to offer.

In the eyes of residents and visitors, Yangshuo is a place to roam about freely or take a long, relaxing rest. In this laid-back backpacker haven, it’s easy for any traveler to find the one scene that’s just up their alley.

To cycle along the country roads and enjoy the nature scenery on the way to Yulong River is the best memory of my trip to Guilin.

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