Tv Tower (马山) : The Heart of Yangshuo

Trail Map

Above the clouds, a lone peak breaks through

Tv Tower watches over Yangshuo from high above. It lies at the heart of the town and as such can be seen from nearly everywhere (including my front door - lucky me!).

Yangshuo's Tv Tower is by far the most climbed peak in the area, due both to its accessibility and stunning views. It's a short hike up (only 30minutes for the fit) and follows a paved pathway. The summit is gated off and supervised by a local, as the radio station is fully functional. Well actually, there seem to be a couple of smiley locals who take turns charging tourists for entry (5-10元).

Three pictures: The sun sets over a carpet of humped mountains. A mountain drifts on a bed of cloud. Lights rush past far below as night falls on Yangshuo.

From below, Tv Tower looks unclimbable, like every peak in Yangshuo. An impenetrable forest of green covers the entire mountain. The path winds its way through the foliage using sharp switchbacks to tackle the steep mountainside.

If you're lucky (depending on how you look at it!), you might spot a snake on your way up. I've been up a handful of times now and haven't bumped into one, but have now heard three reports. Be mindful of this and give the little guys some space if you have to pass. They don't tend to hang out on the path because there's constant traffic up and down so don't let it stop you from making the hike!

A huge wave of clouds breaks on a tumultuous sea

I've visited Tv Tower in all sorts of conditions. Early morning gives you a chance to see the peaks dancing amongst drifting low cloud and is my favourite. On special days you could find yourself above the clouds like Ella and me, pictured below.

Sunsets are also magical. You can watch the sun slip behind the layers of humped mountains which decorate the horizon and if the humidity is right, you'll catch huge rays of light spilling across the land.

I'm told that Yangshuo has changed a lot in the last 10 years and Tv Tower's summit is the perfect place to see this. The metal bars preventing you from getting close to the edge are a new addition.

Ella sits, looking out on the sea of clouds at sunrise

Far below, you can see evidence of huge construction projects. One of my friends here, who has grown up in the town since childhood, was given money by travellers on more than one occasion when she was younger. It was a poorer region and westerners outnumbered Chinese tourists. It's hard to imagine this now with the many flashing neon lights, organised tours, restaurants, bars and the huge Romance Theme Park.

Yangshuo is a fascinating place and Tv Tower is the best way to get a bird's eye view of the town. It puts into perspective the scale of the natural grandeur in Guilin. In every direction, mountains stretch into the horizon. To the northeast, the great Li river winds ever onwards. It's a feast for the eyes and soul. I know it's going to be a hard place to leave!

        Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // Summer 2019