Is it worth visiting Xingping in 2024?


Back in the day Xingping was the underdeveloped poor relation to Yangshuo, but after some serious development this is seemingly no longer the case. Is this a good or a bad thing though and is it worth visiting Xingping in 2024?

For those not in the know Yangshuo and Xingping are next to each other. Both famously beautiful to such a degree that the back of a 20 RMB note is a picture from Xingping. Yet despite this it was Yangshuo that developed first, particularly driven by the Steiner backpacker crowd. In many respects this made it alongside Dali one of the first tourist towns in China.

Xingping though always remained quiet and much less developed until the last few years. Yes people spoke about it as the “next big thing”, or the “new Yangshuo”, but over the 20 years or so that people said this it just remained a nice quiet getaway. This even continued after Yangshuo Railway Station was built, in Xingping.

Getting to Xingping

Getting to Xingping no longer requites bus upon bus upon bus, but can be done via the fast train network in China. Yangshuo station as mentioned being in Xingping.

This means that one can pretty much go from Hanoi to Nanning and onto Xingping in just one day.

Alas when you do arrive at the station keep in mind that Yangshuo locals are still he most dishonest people in China, so just get on the bus and don’t even bother talking to a taxi driver. It still fascinates me that even though I speak to them in Chinese they still think they can fuck me.

Xingping then and now

During the 5 years I lived in Yangshuo while running the DMZ Bar I rarely; came to Xingping save for when I got a train, or fancied a genuinely quite few days away. For this the town was excellent. This was because there were one or two restaurants and bars, great views, but also a place that closed early.

Coming back now in 2024 the place is simply unrecognizable, with ancient street now being jam packed with restaurants, shops, travel agents, yoghurt sellers and people selling a huge heap of tacky tourist crap.

In essence Xingping is no longer the next Yangshuo, it has become Yangshuo, but sadly without any of the spice that made Yangshuo so great.

This is because after socialism there tends to be a time when things first open up where small entrepreneurs can thrive. This is currently seen in Cuba, as well as eat Cafe Apartments in Saigon. The problem is that this period only lasts for so long until big business takes over. And this is was has happened here.

Xingping Ancient Street is now a Disneyfied version of what it used to with big business having moved in and crushed any form of innovation here.

This is perfectly epitomized by Rosewood Group who brought up the town 10+ years ago and are now reaping the corporate rewards.

Xingping Nightlife

While Xingping has never been West Street (no bad thing) there used to be a number if bars, cafes, cool artisan places and even an Indian restaurant here. These have all gone, with the outsides of them being the only reminder that there was once life here.

They have been replaced by the kind of faceless restaurants that the day tripping Chinese like – overpriced beer fish, or have simply been left to rot. In fact the only thing vaguely resembling a bar is the Rosewood owned German Draft Beer place. This is a mirror of what the awful overpriced tourist traps then run on West Street and a night out they do not make.

Street Food Xingping

Sadly and much as I have found in Beijing, Dandong and even Tumen street food now seems to be a thing of the past in China. Previously one could get street BBQ just outside of the tourist bit, but tis has now seemingly gone.

And while there are still some local style non-tourist places, for the most part if you want to eat in Xingping expect to pay over the odds for sub-par food.

But hey, at least Yangshuo has a McDonald’s

So, should you visit Xingping in 2024?

Honestly after what I have written my answer might surprise you. And that is because the place has such great hotels and views that it is well worth a night here. This is particularly the case if you have never been before and have nothing to compare it with.

I say this partly too as someone with enough self-awareness to realize that I am not just sounding like, but am truly becoming the older jaded “things were better in my day” traveler. The fact is that when I have gone to places and enjoyed them, there were always old timers there saying that I had missed the good old days.

Alas it would appear that the “good old days” are merely matter of perspective.