Located in Yangzhou, Guilin, West Street has risen to prominence in the over 1400 years it has been in existence. Guilin is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern China as well as the whole of China due to its beautiful scenery and numerous attractions. Additionally, Yangzhou, the city where West Street is located has the best scenery in Guilin as it situated in the mountain ranges.
West Street is primarily renowned for its numerous stores, memorable souvenirs, local architecture, excellent cuisine, great nightlife and beautiful scenery. Due to the high number of international visitors in the here, West Street has become the largest foreign language centre in China. The diverse mix of cultures in the area only adds to its appeal.
It is perfect for shopping, and many other activities irrespective of whether you are alone, or in a group.
- Due to the high number of international visitors in the here, West Street has become the largest foreign language centre/global street in China.
- Close to 100,000 visitors arrive here annually either for visits or to attend studies.
- The most prominent attraction for many is the diverse mix of cultures ‘Foreigners Street’ is its nickname as foreigners outnumber the locals.
- Many natives even the elderly have a basic understanding of English due to the high number of foreigners.
- Many foreigners have also settled and set up shop here.
- It is the oldest street in Yangzhou.
History Of West Street
The landscape and scenery in Guilin is one of the best in China and perhaps the whole world due to the Li River which gives it a perfect picturesque scene.
Yangzhou, located close to this city has the best landscape of them all as it is located in the beautiful mountain ranges and thus a perfect attraction for the numerous tourists visiting Guilin and China in general.
Notably is a section of rocks along the Li River so remarkable that they grace the back of the ¥20.
Discovered by backpackers/western visitors in the 70s, Yangzhou has seen an influx of foreigners since then.
Yangzhou’s oldest street has thus become its busiest and most famous as many of visitors are drawn by its stores, restaurants, architecture, and nightlife.
The street dates back to 590 AD during the Sui Dynasty and was located on the west side of Yangshuo thus its name, West Street.
It was initially only 200m long and 4m wide but has since expanded close to a kilometre and 8m wide meandering like an S along its way.
In addition to its appealing architecture and culture, it is considered as the first point where eastern and western cultures clashed. For instance, Christianity was first introduced to Yangshuo here in 1910 when a preacher went preaching door to door.
Moreover, the town had a government school for military officials, representatives, and translators in the 30’s.
Foreign language classes for Russian, Japanese, German, French, and English are also held on West Street. All these factors have played a major part in the increased diversity in Yangzhou more specifically West Street.
The Culture Of West Street
Architecture: You will realize that buildings along West Street have both Chinese and Western qualities signifying the diverse history the street has. The Chinese design in parts of the street is similar to the primitive elegant yet simple style of building famous during the Ming and Qing dynasties. There are White walls, Chinese style tiles, sloping roof balcony and a stone street.
Conversely, the European architecture is mostly found at the cafe bars with the buildings having 3-4 layers. These buildings of both styles are very beautifully painted adding to the sparkle of West Street.
Cultural Influences: The first western visitors were mesmerized by the pure, traditional culture of the locals. Hence they immersed themselves in it and wrote travel guidebooks about it thus attracting more people. Get to walk around the street and immerse yourself in the culture even if it is for one day. Get to enjoy different foods, clothing, antiques, art and other products inspired by different cultures.
Food and Restaurants: When hungry, pop into one of the numerous restaurants along the streets and have a taste of Chinese cuisine or Western food if you are feeling homesick which I doubt you will be. One of the local dishes that you have to try is beer fish at Tao’s authentic Beer Fish. Fresh fish caught from the Li River with sauce and a cold beer will stimulate your appetite.
Also, get to enjoy the Meiyou Café that translates to we don’t have as the owners promise that they do not have any bad food or lousy service. Other restaurants you can try out include; Minnie Mao’s, Paris Café, Green Lotus and Anne’s Café that offers a range of foods both local and foreign. Restaurants offer not only high-quality cuisine but also an excellent environment for you to relax.
Stores: there are plenty of stores for you to buy anything that you fancy. As you walk down the street, you will find yourself surrounded by craftwork shops, painting and calligraphy stores, cafes, backpack shops and outdoor clothes offering a variety of products ranging from ordinary items to wax painted weaving, embroidered silk and tiny shoes worn by women in olden times.
There are also Chinese cooking schools, Kung-Fu academies, and foreign language schools. Do not worry if you do not understand Chinese; most shop attendants here can speak English and the signs on the shops are also written in English, Chinese and other languages at times.
Nightlife: The nightlife at the West Street is one you will wish never ends. With most of the visitors in Yangzhou converging here to have a little fun, the streets are a beehive of activity. Various cafes, bars, and restaurants put on a show to entertain the numerous visitors present. You can either sit down at one of these establishments for rest or wander the streets in search of adventure.
Favourite bars like the MC Blues bar have an outdoor sitting place where you can watch the world pass by while listening to the music of your choice from the over 150 tapes up for selection by any customer. Afterwards, you can retire to the numerous accommodation facilities in the area or in the city where you can watch the Li River gleaming in the night from your window.
Tips For Visiting West Street
- Most residents speak English, so you don’t have to worry about the language barrier.
- Carry a camera to capture all the fantastic scenes
- Daytime visits are preferable as you will be able to observe and enjoy the experience entirely.
- It is an excellent place to practice your bargaining skills as you can bargain to get a low price.
- Take as much time as possible from your itinerary to fully experience all what West Street has to offer.
- Ensure to carry enough cash to do some shopping and taste the cuisine.