water rafting

The Ultimate Travel Guide To Bamboo Rafting in China

You knew that bamboo was a thing in China, but did you know that bamboo rafting was too? No, it’s not like white water rafting, but rather a boat tour on a traditionally made, bamboo raft. Typically, visitors to China add this activity to their bucket lists, as these rides take you down some of the country’s most scenic waterways. And, in most cases, the paddling is left up to your guide, so you can cruise down the river and focus on the sites instead of the navigation. Bamboo rafting in China is one of those ‘must-have’ experiences that can’t quite be recreated anywhere else. So, if you are interested in touring China by bamboo raft, here is Sublime China’s ultimate travel guide.

Yulong River, Yangshuo

Sublime China’s Ultimate Travel Guide To Bamboo Rafting

Photo Source: Guilin Travel

Functioning as the tributary of the Li River, Yulong begins in Yangshuo County and flows along a pretty dramatic landscape. There are karst towers, jutting out of the sparkling water, and a whole scene of local fishermen on their boats. The river stretches for about 26 miles, and 2-3 hours is a good amount of time for a bamboo raft ride here.

Have you ever seen the traditional Chinese paintings? If so, that’s what you can expect from the landscape here. It’s utterly beautiful, in the most natural way possible. While floating along with your guide, you can see:

  • Bamboo forests.
  • Mountain ranges.
  • Water buffaloes.
  • Rice paddies.
  • Rural villages and local life.

Some of the best routes on this river include:

-Chaoyang Wharf to Gongnong Bridge which takes about 2 hours.

-Jinlong Bridge to Jiuxian Village which takes about 2 ½ hours.

-Chaoyang Wharf to Shuidi Dock which takes about 1 hour.

What To Know

-Costs range from 50 to 260 Yuan.

-Tours can be booked from most places around the town.

What to check out while in Yangshuo:

  • Liugong scenic area.
  • Fuli Farmer Market.
  • Assembling Dragon Cave.
  • Antenna Hill.

Li River, Guilin

Sublime China’s Ultimate Travel Guide To Bamboo Rafting

Photo Source: Aliexpress

The Li River is one of the most popular and famous places in China to take a bamboo raft ride. It’s quite close to the Yulong River in Yangshuo but is much bigger and more dramatic. While both are stunning, the Li River bamboo raft cruises tend to be more touristy, but the experience is still quite profound. In fact, the views of the Li River have been known to be the most photographed in China.

During a bamboo raft ride on the Li, visitors can experience:

  • Limestone towers.
  • Picture perfect scenery of the Chinese countryside.
  • Locals washing their clothes and cooking utensils in the river.
  • The exact location that is pictured on the back of the 20 Yuan bank note.

What To Know

-These bamboo raft rides can be arranged mostly anywhere in the town.

-The price range is around 50 to 200 Yuan.

-The stretch between Xingping and Yangdi is the most beautiful.

What to check out while in Guilin:

  • Moon and sun pagoda.
  • Li River Folk Customs Center.
  • Guilin Art Museum.
  • Seven Star Park.
  • Black Hill Botanic Garden.
  • Reed Flute Cave.

Nine Bend River, Wuyishan

Located in the southeastern province of Fujian, Wuyishan is a naturally stunning mountain town centered around the tea trade. Visitors come and stay in the small central town, but the real attraction in Wuyishan are the mountain ranges, tea plantations, and the river.

A bamboo raft ride down the river will take you through Chinese countryside and in between mountain ranges. Get ready for 1.5 to 2 hours of rafting as your guide takes you through mountain passes and points out the hanging coffins that have resided in the mountains for centuries.

As the name suggests, you will encounter nine different bends in the river as well as views of forests, hiking trails, high peaks, and mountains. You may even get a glimpse of ancient temples or pagodas peeking their way through the dense forests.

While in Wuyishan, make sure to check out:

  • The tea shops.
  • The Da Hong Pao tea show.
  • Mount Wuyi.
  • Horse Head Rock.
  • Tiger Roaring Rock.
  • Heavenly Tour Peak.

Tiaoxi River, Shuangxi

Visitors here can experience authentic, rural life by taking an ox car to the river and then hopping on a bamboo raft for a ride that is about 3.5 kilometers long. This area is more toned down than the more popular bamboo rides on the Li River, but the area still has lots of beauty to offer.

Some of the river’s best features are:

  • The clear water and the fish that can be seen because of it.
  • Large waterfalls that make the rafting here more exciting.
  • The mountains and tea fields.

This area is about 300 kilometers from Shanghai, so you may want to consider it for a weekend or day trip if you want to take a break from the city.

While you’re here, make sure to check out:

  • Shanghai: This is one of China’s most popular cities. Make sure to see the Pearl Tower, The Bund, and the French Quarter. There is also plenty of fantastic shopping, acrobatic performances, and the historic old town to experience.
Sublime China’s Ultimate Travel Guide To Bamboo Rafting

Photo Source: Fredrikson

Huangpu River, Zhejiang

Another small but scenic route, visitors can take bamboo raft rides that take about an hour over a 4.5-kilometer stretch. Unlike some of the other rafting experiences, this one has both smooth waters and the occasional rapid that makes a trip here a bit more exciting.

Eco-tourism is more of a prominent lure here, so visitors will be in for duck sightings, lush green landscapes, fish, shrimp, and water plants. Don’t be surprised if your guide takes the time to point these all out to you.

While you’re in the Zhejiang region of China, make sure to check out some of the other features here such as:

  • Hangzhou: The province capital and former capital of China. This destination is one of the most famous for Chinese tourists, and it’s known for its tea, silk, and the famous West Lake.
  • Jiaxing: A scenic farming town that is characterized by the houses over water.
  • Huzhou: Is home to the historic area of Anji

Watch Our Best Places To Bamboo Raft In China Video


No matter what your plans are for China, make bamboo rafting part of your journey. A trip down one of China’s beautiful rivers can only add to your experience, and may just be the thing that you and your family cherish the most from your trip to China.

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Shannon Ullman

Hey! I'm a published American travel blogger and teacher. My travel writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Matador Network and Thought Catalog. I spent over a year living and traveling around China while I taught English there. I have also visited dozens of other countries around the world.