Xingping is a small and beautiful village located around 25KM north of the town of Yangshuo in China's Guangxi Province. The village is surrounded by stunning natural limestone karst hills in all shapes and sizes. Though Xingping can be classed as a photographer's paradise, at the same time, it is not exactly a touristy village, but then again that's the amazing beauty off this place. You get to see what life is really like in rural China, and here you may even get glimpses of what life may have been like even in some of the big Chinese cities. Xingping's well preserved buildings are all full of beautiful Chinese period architecture and art.
As you take a walk along the narrow yet remarkably sleepy streets of Xingping, you can get glimpses of what people's homes look like, and how people live their lives here. The vast majority of the residents live a very humble and simple life, and don't have the luxuries that most people in the urban areas do. People still use wood or coal as a source of fire to cook food (or for heating water for a bath), and other things such as electric cookers, air-conditioning, hot water, fridge-freezer or even a proper toilet are non-existent. Xingping is probably also a glimpse of what Yangshuo was like before the 1980s- it really is a time machine.
The main source of income for the people of Xingping comes from fishing (and proof of this can be seen with the fishing nets hanging on people's front doors), farming (rice and other vegetables that are sold in all the places around Xingping, including Yangshuo and Guilin), and tourism (most of the residents of Xingping work in Yangshuo, Guilin or even along the River Li).
As mentioned, that tourism does not form the core part of Xingping's development, but there are a few cafes and bars that serve western coffee, food, and beer. Since Xingping has a very close-knit community, so you'll hardly find any external developers living and working here. The small cafes and bars are normally run by the grandchildren of the residents of Xingping, especially after they have come back completing their education or after gaining work experience in the urban cities. Expect the prices at the cafes and bars to be rather expensive (coffee may cost you the same price as a Starbucks coffee etc.).
There are two ways to get to Xingping:
1. From Guilin by Bamboo boat
First take the bus from Guilin bus station to Yangdi pier (should not cost more than 15RMB, and takes an hour). This would be a local bus, so don't shocked to see people getting on with live chickens' in their hands (or people carrying water filled bags that have live fish inside)- you can't get any more fresh food than this! Mind you, the views along the way are just priceless. Lush greenery surrounded by magical karst hills. The bus stops right outside Yangdi pier, and all you need to do is get on one of the bamboo boats, and off you go.
The journey from Yangdi to Xingping takes around 2 hours, and is well-worth it. The cost for a one-way ticket from Yangdi pier to Xingping should be no more than around 110RMB per person. However, if you are travelling in a group, it can be considerably cheaper. Once you get off the pier at Xingping, you can either walk for about 5 minutes to the village centre, or take one of the tuk-tuk tricycles that are lurking around. The cost per person should not be more then 5RMB (they'll ask for something ridiculous like 25RMb when they see a foreigner with a camera).
2. From Yangshuo by Bus or Cycle
Xingping is only a 20-minute bus ride to Yangshuo, and costs 7RMB per single trip. Buses run on a frequent basis. Again, don't be alarmed to see people carrying live poultry and other things (such as live Game birds, fish, etc.) as this is the local way of life (i.e. everything is eaten fresh as not many people have fridge-freezers).
If you want to get away from it all and explore the local countryside with its lush green rice paddy fields, and live an undisturbed life (switch off your mobile phone too!), then the best way to travel to Xingping from Yangshuo is by riding a bike or an electric motorbike. Just take your camera with you, while snaking your way across between dreamy karst hills, and local villages. And if you get lost, then don't worry. The locals are very friendly, and if you wish then you may even to stay with them (most local villagers have realised the potential of all the foreign tourists, so they have turned their homes into a small bed & breakfast business). If you cannot speak Chinese, then its probably best to hire a local guide from Yangshuo. The rental costs for bikes vary, and its best to bargain a good price (normally from experience around 150-200RMB a day is acceptable).
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