Every night 2,000 spectators are herded into the purpose-built riverside amphitheater for acclaimed director Zhang Yimou's waterborne spectacular, "Impression, Sanjie Liu." The celebrity connection is tenuous but it helps bring in the crowds, while the show itself is on such a grand scale, with over 200 bamboo rafts in the water at once and a total production crew of 600, that it can hardly fail to impress. In fact, with such a spectacular backdrop as the Li River and the mix of floodlights, singing, and minority processions it would be difficult to execute anything less than magical, but the acclaimed director gets all the credit all the same. Tickets start at ¥180 and can be arranged through most hotels, although very little of that actually goes to the local performers. The show starts at 8pm but best to get there half-hour early, leaving time to wander Liu San Jie Park. Bring binoculars or rent them for ¥5; insect repellent is also a good idea. At the bottom of West Street in Yangshuo is an endless succession of boat owners who will happily take you to an alternative viewing point on the river for just ¥30 to ¥60; but at this price you will be paying mostly for the mosquitoes. For more info, visit www.yxlsj.com.
While many of the bars on Xianqian Jie seem to be full of Chinese youngsters looking for a bit of holiday romance or "yan yu" in Chinese, an interesting alternative might be Monkey Janes' Guest House Rooftop Bar (tel. 0773/882-1603), where there is a quiet pool table and the barman Finnegan makes awesome tequila sunrises for only ¥20; Sunday is two-for-one happy hour all night long.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.