China in general is a cheap place to eat, however as with any tourist place comes tourist prices. Airports, the great wall and of course Yansghuo are all guilty of charging stupidly high rates for usually quite cheap things. Fear not however as we have from our experience found ways to eat cheap in Yangshuo, one of the most beautiful places in China. Here is our meal by meal guide to frugal eating!
First things first, get the hell away from West Street and anywhere near the town. Head up one of the main roads into the “suburban” areas of Yangshuo (hospital or Shenshan rd are great examples) here you will find much more local fare with reduced local prices. Our recommendation is wonton soup (馄炖汤) and youtiao (油条) (Chinese fried breadstick). This will set you back around 6 RMB and will keep you full till lunch. Other cheap breakfast fare are things like rou bao (肉包) which on average cost around 2-3 RMB.
Some of you may judge me for this next suggestion, however I say “when in Rome…”. Again, make your way away from the main town and down on of the local streets. Go to any hole in the wall place ask for mian （面）meaning “noodles”. In particular, you can pick up a delicious bowl of guilin mifen (桂林米粉) or Guilin rice noodles for about 10 RMB and for added flavour you can get dog meat (狗肉 or gourou) added in for about 5 RMB. Now I know what you’re thinking, but seriously give it a crack, it’s basically cheap lamb. Remember you don’t know until you’ve tried it, at least that’s what I say to my homophobic grandparents. Otherwise there are plenty of places selling lunch box combos for about 15-25 RMB which come packed with heaps of meat, veggies, pickles and of course rice.
The trick for keeping dinner cheap is eating in groups. Many of the restaurants around town do give out decent portion sizes, so if you order in a group and add some rice to it, you’re looking at a decent feed of about 3 different dishes for about 30 RMB a head. If you’re looking for something even cheaper, try a dish called suanlafen (酸辣粉) or sour rice noodles in English. This spicy dish from Chongqing province is tasty, filling and can be brought cheaply for about 12 RMB from most small stores around the town, including in the touristy parts. Additionally, if you don’t like spice, I suggest dumplings, for about 10 to 15RMB depending on where you go, you can get a healthy dose of delicious dumplings smothered in vinegar and soy. My favourite.
Side note: snacks!
If you’re looking for something quick head to west street (gross I know) to a small stand selling fried scallion cake, known locally as “racist cake”. This delicious cake is filled with meat veggies and other goodies then fried and can be eaten with or without chilli. But why is it racist? This name is attributed to a small phrase on the mobile stall that says “We do not serve Japanese people”. Guys, the war is over…Anyway we think it’s delicious so we still eat there, even if they have dumb logic.
Follow these tips and you’ll be sure not to break the bank and if you get sick of Chinese food, well there’s always McDonalds or the Brew.