Taking a bamboo raft ride is a relaxing way to enjoy amazing views of the Yu Long (Dragon) and Li River. You can start at different places along both rivers and the rides range from ½ hour to five hours. This is not the same as whitewater rafting, as the current in both rivers is very gentle, so in fact you're just floating down river with a gondolier who steers you over the breakwaters. Both rivers have their advantages; if a quiet ride is what you're after, try the Yulong River for a lazy afternoon. For a more varied landscape with karst mountains towering hundreds of meters up from the river, we recommend a motorized bamboo raft along the Li River. Generally the rafts have enough room for 2 bikes so you can always combine it with a biking tour.
Yu Long River Rafting
Tour #1: Jiu Xian Village to Yangshuo Mountain Retreat
Duration of rafting: 2 hrs
Take a twenty minute taxi ride or walk upstream to Jiu Xian Village and then gently drift down the river from Xian Gui Bridge to the Mountain Retreat where there are cold refreshments and delicious food . Always negotiate the prices in advance, particularly in high season when they are likely to be higher.
Tour #2: Yu Long Bridge to Moon Hill Bridge
Duration of raft trip: 4 hrs
Take a taxi (45min), bike (1.5 hours) or walk (3.5 hours) up to the Yu Long Bridge. Here you can float back down river with a cold beverage or two and see the Yu Long River valley from a unique perspective. If you have bikes, you can put them on the back of the raft.
Li River Rafting
Tour #3: From Xingping to Lengshui/Yangdi
Duration of raft trip: 45 min/ 2.5 hrs
Take a local bus from Yangshuo to Xingping (50 min) and walk to the town docks. Here you can find many bamboo rafts which can take you upstream either to Lengshui or even further to Yangdi. If you want to walk back to Xingping make sure you have enough daylight left or arrange pick up in either Lengshui or Yangdi.
Tour #4: From Lengshui to Xingping
Duration: whole day
This Yangshuo tour combines both walking and a bamboo rafting trip on the Li River. Catch a local bus to Yangdi which takes about 1 hr 15min. From there you can walk for about 3.5 hours along the banks of the Li River to Lengshui which is about three quarters of the way between Yangdi and Xingping. In Lengshui, enjoy a 40 min bamboo raft trip downstream. Note that gondoliers may want to drop you off outside of Xingping as the bamboo taxis try to avoid paying the mooring fee at the jetty. This is not a problem as many electric carts run from the drop off point taking you directly to the Xingping bus station where you can catch a local bus which leave regularly for Yangshuo.