Travelers: Cherie Anderson, her husband Dairne Fitzpatrick, and their children Nina and Luca Fitzpatrick (age 16 and 13 respectively), who attend Yew Chung International School of Beijing.
Destination: Guilin and Yangshuo
Travel dates: Early April
Travel plans: The family arranged their trip through Jack’s Private Tours, visiting Guilin, Sanjiang Chengyang Dong, Longji rice terraces, and Yangshuo.
Our family has been in Beijing for nearly two years and over Qing Ming holiday we decided to take the opportunity to see a bit more of China. We headed to Guilin, a place we’d often heard described as a must do.
Based on recommendations from friends we used Jack’s Private Tours to arrange our trip. It was well worth it; Jack certainly lived up to his reputation, taking care of every imaginable detail. He has great English, great local area knowledge, and is great company.
The trip was for five full days with travel days either side. Landing in Guilin we spent the night in the city before heading to Sanjiang Chengyang Dong Village; home to a Chinese ethnic minority and beautifully situated. The drive was long and bumpy, but well worth it. It was wonderful to be able to wander through the wooden buildings and see the locals at work.
The next day we headed to the Longji Rice Terraces. To get to Ping’an village where we stayed, we had to leave the car at the bottom of a big hill and walk for 30 minutes. It was easy going and the scenery was spectacular. Due to the time of year, the iconic rice terraces were not flooded, but still they were amazing. They date back hundreds of years, and it is incredible to imagine the toil that has gone into maintaining them. We trekked twice during our time there, two hours on the afternoon we arrived and then a 90 minute trek back out of the village the next day. We stayed in the amazingly decorated and boutique Longji One Hotel which features furniture carved from huge tree trunks. We were sad to leave this beautiful remote village the next day, and could certainly have seen ourselves settling in for three or four days to enjoy the many bars, restaurants, and walking tracks wending their way through the terraces, but time was limited so we had to move on.
We traveled back past Guilin to Yangshuo, which is actually the city most people are thinking of when they talk about Guilin. Here we settled into a great little home stay called Yangshuo Phoenix Pagoda Fonglou Retreat, just out of the city overlooking Moon Mountain, nestled among the iconic rock formations. From here we took many excursions including a half day cycling tour, the Li river cruise in small motorized boats, bamboo rafting on the Yulong River, and attending the famous night-time light show.
All of us thoroughly loved every aspect of our holiday; as Kiwis, we love to be in nature, and this trip certainly gave us that. Everywhere we went we were surrounded by lush countryside with an abundance of birds and insects that are noticeable for their absence here in Beijing. In the Yangshuo region at this time of year the orange trees are flowering and the air was heavy with the sweet scent of orange blossom.
Individually, we each had a different highlight. For me it was being off the beaten track and seeing rural life going on in its peaceful, sedate way. For Dairne it was being in Yangshuo surrounded by the spectacular scenery. Nina and Luca enjoyed the cycling, boating, and being surrounded by hills.
A fantastic holiday – we well recommend it and only wish we could have stretched it out to several days in each place.
ATMs and cell phone prepay cards were not easy to come by – stock up on in advance. Take insect repellent.
I recommend an extra day at the Longji rice terraces.
Dragon Air flights there and back are highly recommended.
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing the Li River and the Yulong River cruise if time is limited. The Li River is motorized following many other motorized boats, while the Yulong is punted but very sedate. Take your pick between them.
This article originally appeared on page 36-37 of the beijingkids July 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Courtesy of Dairne Fitzpatrick