Overlanding from Hong Kong to Yangshuo

YangshuoAfter our little break in Hong Kong we headed back to mainland China just before christmas. Our destination was Yangshuo, we took a train from Hung Hom to Guangzhou East which was a pleasant, smooth ride complete with Hong Kong egg tarts and a cup of tea.

Egg tarts and tea on the train

Guangzhou was a full-on assault back into China, we had to cross the city on the metro, changing once, to reach the main station to catch our connecting train to Guilin and this metro made every other metro we’d travelled in across China seem polite and organized. It was rammed with commuters, it was half past three in the afternoon and you could barely move, the mass was aggressive and very pushy. We had to fight our way off the train and then it was a scrum through the crowd to reach the elevator or you got pushed aside. We barged through, as they say, when in Rome…

Guangzhou’s main railway station is a stark contrast to Hung Hom, Hong Kong. This station was rough, busy and the constant stream of passengers looked far poorer than in the north of the country. We had a few hours wait before we boarded the overnight train to Guilin and we tucked ourselves into a quiet corner of one of the waiting halls and bided our time.

It was a comfortable night in a six berth hard sleeper, I woke to hear Chris speaking English with the local guy who had slept on the bunk above me. There always seemed to be someone nearby with good english who fancied a chat!

Greenforest GuilinWe stayed a night in Guilin purely to break the journey up a bit, then took a bus to Yangshuo the following day. This was remarkably straightforward, the bus station is just a short walk along the road from the railway station. Touts will try and sell tickets for buses to Yangshuo outside the railway station, ignore them and turn left and the bus station is very near.

Buy tickets at the counter and the buses leave every fifteen minutes out the back, it was so easy! The bus we took was almost empty and dropped us in Yangshuo an hour and a half later.

As the bus drove out into the countryside the karst landscape rose up majestically and rural life played out around us. Noisy long tractors towed people, produce and building equipment and workers tended rice paddies either side of the road. After the densely populated north of the country, this bucolic scene was refreshing.

The Yangshuo bus station is 2km from the town centre and we opted to walk, having being cooped up on trains and buses it was good to stretch our legs.

Later that afternoon we met up with Sophie and Severi, who we’d travelled with in Mongolia, Xian and Chengdu, in our hostel, the rather lovely Greenforest Hostel Yangshuo {that’s their wonderful balcony on the top pic}, and reunited our little travel family just in time for Christmas…..


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7 Responses

  1. emmawomble says:

    I will be doing the same route as you from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, but with maybe a night spent in Guangzhou to give me time to explore that city as well. I can’t wait to see Li river and karst mountains. Did you buy your overnight train tickets to Guilin from the station in Guangzhou or did you get them in Hong Kong?

    • You will love the karats and the rivers!
      We actually booked the train from Guangzhuo to Guilin at Shanghai Station, at the same time as we booked the train from Shanghai to HK.
      I’m not sure if they could be booked in HK or not. We found the trains booked up fast, that was why we booked it in advance.
      Sorry that’s not as helpful as it could be.

      • emmawomble says:

        Thanks. You can buy train tickets online but without a chinese credit card you have to do it through an agency which obviously charges more. But if tickets book up early as you say then maybe it will be worth paying more to ensure that I’ll get a bed rather than a seat.

        • Yes, I’d recommend you paying a wee bit extra for that then. I’d much, much, much rather have a bed! We always travelled in 6 berth hard sleeper and it was great.

  2. davegct says:

    Yanshuo looks so beautiful, wonderful that you made it there! I’ve seen so many pictures of it and definitely must visit some day. Interesting to hear your description of fighting your way through the crowded train station & train cars on the way – we definitely found people in China to have different ideas on what is polite or not in crowds! How was the air & water in the rural areas of China that you visited, did you find pollution outside the big cities?

    • The metro stations were easier and more polite in the north, by far!
      Will post more about Yangshuo soon, there was very little air pollution out there when we were there but we ran into it again in Nanning.
      From what I remember the rivers in the Yangshuo area were pretty clean, compared to what I’ve seen in SEA.

  1. May 3, 2014

    […] Overlanding from Hong Kong to Yangshuo […]

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