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Shanghai Sights and Sounds


Admire the colorful curves of the Longji rice terraces as they spiral up and down the mountains. Longsheng County lies in the north-east of Guangxi Province around 100 kilometers north of Guilin. The area’s main industry is rice growing, and the region surrounding Longsheng Town is given over to paddyfields and terraces. The Longji terraces were built and maintained from the 13th century through to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) by the people of the Zhuang ethnic minority.

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Explore the Western-style cafés and bars of this backpackers’ haven, while soaking up local culture on the banks of the Li River.

The small town of Yangshuo lies nestled between karst peaks on the banks of the Li River. Its permanent population of 300,000 is swelled by tourists who come all year round to enjoy the picture-perfect scenery and climb the surrounding mountains. As well as being a tourist Mecca thanks to a recommendation in the Lonely Planet guide, Yangshuo is China’s main rock-climbing center and attracts climbers from around the world.

Located to the south-east of Guilin in the northern part of Guangxi Province, Yangshuo has a unique mix of east and west. While visitors can pay to watch fisherman ply their trade using cormorants and see traditional dances performed by local women, they can also have a beer at a Western bar, or sip latte in a European-style café. Yangshuo’s main avenues are West Street and Chinese Street, and most of the backpacking venues are located there, as well as on pedestrianized Xian Qian Street.

Swimming and rafting on the Yulong and Li Rivers are popular Yangshou pastimes, along with biking or hiking in the hills. Zhang Yimou’s folk opera “Impression Liu Sanjie” is performed on Schoolboy Hill close to the town.

Local delicacies include rice noodles, beer fish, and glutinous rice cakes. Locally grown fruits like kumquats and shaddocks are worth a try. If you want to pick up some souvenirs in Yangshuo, the town is particularly famous for painted fans, shirts, and laquered balls.

Impression Sanjie Liu

Impression Sanjie Liu

Stand at the spot where a Tang Dynasty general tested his sword, and witness natural pavilions and cloisters made from rock formations. Fubo Hill overlooks the Li River from the western bank around two kilometers from Elephant Trunk Hill. The 213-meter peak stands alone, and is decorated with a series of cloisters, gardens and pavilions. At water level, it hides caves and statue-filled grottoes, making it one of the most interesting and mysterious attractions on the Li riverbank.

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Watch the Li River come alive with a visually stunning and musically diverse performance involving 600 actors.

The 1961 movie “Sanjie Liu” made Yangshuo’s Li River famous around the world, and brought the story of the eponymous fairy princess to a wider audience. According to the myths of the Zhuang ethnic minority, Sanjie Liu was a maiden of incredible beauty who lived on the river and possessed a great talent for singing. In 2004, the stage extravaganza “Impression of Sanjie Liu” was premiered in Yangshuo, based on the legends surrounding her.

The show mixes dancing, singing, music, and lighting effects to create a stunning tableau of Li River life. As well as celebrating the life of Sanjie Liu, it showcases the traditions of the people who live and work on the river. The theater where the performance takes place is the largest outdoor performance space in the world. The audience sits on a series of terraces to watch the action unfold on islands spread across the river. Twelve peaks form a natural backdrop.

The performance is split into seven parts: a prologue and epilogue, and five “color” impressions – red (folk songs), green (gardens), gold (fishermen), blue (love songs), silver (a grand ceremony). Performers row rafts between the islands while modern and traditional music plays.

Both an impressive stage show and an insight into Li River life, “Impression Sanjie Liu” is an unmissable spectacle and a hugely enjoyable highlight of any trip to Yangshuo.