Westerners can be divided on travel style preferences; some arguing that full immersion is the only way, whilst others are willing to allow themselves that cheeky Starbucks on a hungover morning (following perhaps a late-night-post-drink McDonalds too). It is certainly down to personal preference, and whatever feels right for you.
Upon arriving in a new location, the familiar sight of red and yellow can certainly ruin the authenticity and atmosphere of the place. Just when you thought you could escape the corporate world, you’re brought back to reality a bit too much, too quickly. However, if you’ve been on the road for a long time or relocated permanently, the occasional sight of your favourite fast food place can warm even the hearts of the most hardcore travellers – whether you choose to make use of them or not is up to you. There are simply times when China can be too much, and that’s ok.
Luckily, Yangshuo seems to make the best of both worlds, appealing to travellers and expats across the spectrum. It does not let down when it comes to its variety of western outlets, but still manages to retain its unique Chinese charm. The big names are all situated in around the same location at the top of town, making them both easily avoidable, and easily found. Walk a few meters away from the crowded hustle and bustle of West Street and you’ll come to a modern looking square of newly built buildings, where the floor is clean and the pavement even. Here you’ll find your favourites such as KFC, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks. If you’re feeling guilty, you can pretend to be a bit cultured by trying out the products exclusive to China or the region, such as Fish Sticks or Red Bean and Green Tea cake.
If fast food isn’t your thing, you’re after something a bit healthier, or you’d rather support local businesses (great!), there is an abundance of restaurants with a wide variety of food appealing to a Western audience. If your Chinese isn’t up to scratch and you’d like to know exactly what you’re eating, or you perhaps have certain dietary requirements, these places will be a lifesaver.
The Brew, based right in the centre of town and run by an Austrian, specialises in Western cuisine and also Chinese dishes. They have various different deals on throughout the week, and their burger night of a Tuesday is not to be missed!
Just opposite you will find the Indian restaurant Ganga Impression, where you can find authentic Indian food. Spicy food in the height of summer may not sound too appealing, but their air conditioning, bespoke meals, and very friendly staff make for a great combination. Chances are, you’ll also find some of the local expats enjoying Yangshuo life, too.
A little bit outside the centre you’ll find Lounge. Offering a mighty Full-English style breakfast, Lounge should be anyone’s first port of call for a Yangshuo hangover. They also offer a variety of other dishes, such as sandwiches and wraps.
In relation to a portion of dumplings from the nearest street vendor, eating out in Western food places is generally going to come with a Western price tag on it, whether it be a local restaurant or the local McDonalds. However, they are certainly still more than affordable. These restaurants offer not only food, but excellent hospitality service, good company, and the (almost) security that you won’t have a dodgy stomach the next day.
You’re in China to explore the region and the culture. The food isn’t necessarily for everyone, so don’t be afraid to be a bit Western sometimes!