To get a birds-eye view of Yangshuo’s picturesque scenery, I hiked up a hill a few miles south of the county’s bustling center.
The hill is known for its natural arch, and the Chinese call it Yueliang shan (月亮山), which literally translates into moon mountain. Sections of the 1,250-foot hike to the arch are steep, but the trail is paved with concrete steps.
The trail leads to a viewing platform, where you can watch rock climbers maneuver up limestone cliffs. Yangshuo is regarded as a world-class climbing destination, and attracts people from all over the globe.
Most visitors stop at the viewing platform, but I had read that the best views were from the top of the hill. A dirt path that takes you there is closed to the public for safety reasons, but the owner of the hotel I stayed at said the trail was safe as long as it wasn’t raining, so I went up.
A light fog that had blanketed the region in previous days had lifted. In every direction, rows of lush green karst peaks filled the horizon. I was alone and high enough that the cars motoring on the highway below were barely audible.
It was peaceful and, with a little imagination, easy to forget you were in world’s most populated country.