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Business idea for backpackers

One thing I did not understand about Yangshuo, is that there is no decent map of the city and (especially) the countryside around it. There is a map that is widely sold, which shows the main attractions around the city, but that map only has a few roads on it and the scale is not correct. Because there are hundreds or maybe even thousands of tourists every day in Yangshuo I immediately saw a small business opportunity.

If I would have had time I would base myself in Yangshuo for a few weeks, buy a bike, a gps receiver and all currently available maps and come up with a new, good one myself. The only thing you need for this is time, not money. And who have time and no money? The backpackers in Yangshuo. Many of them stay here for weeks, not doing too much, except for hiking or biking in the countryside and enjoying a cold beer at night. This could easily be combined with making a good map in my opinion.

And how can you make money with it? Simple. First approach all of the hotels, restaurants and bars with a good proposal, and ask if they want to put an ad on the back of your map for a small amount of money. Get some cash upfront from them for this to get started. After the map is ready, don’t only sell it through outlets in Yangshuo, but get someone to sell it to the tour groups before they arrive in Yangshuo (so either on the bus or on the boat), nobody is doing that yet. Also sell it though hotels and retail outlets in Guilin. Say that you price your map at RMB 5 (which is lower than the current map), you will need 1-2 RMB to print the map. Give another 1-2 RMB to the person that sells the map (you could even get hawkers to do this), and keep the remaining 1-3 RMB. It’s not a multi-million dollar business, but it’s a nice way to earn some extra cash while travelling around China. And you would make a lot of tourists happy: tourists that now get lost on their bikes in the rice fields around Yangshuo.

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  1. Officially it may be illegal, although I don’t know the exact legal text, but as usual in China there are many ways around it. I think the Yangshuo local government would be happy to see this happening (and they likely don’t even know about the law, so I would not worry about it anyway).

    For example, just call it a tourist information guide and the problem is solved already. Or find a Chinese friend who for a small % of the profits will do it in his or her name (should be no problem when you are in Yangshuo for a few weeks).

  2. are you sure its illegal. In Beijing and Shanghai you will find the sponsored maps of Redbang in the hotels. These maps are fantastic for the backpacker and tourist. All the spots are there on the map with its name in characters and pinyin suitable to show the cabdriver. Check


  3. to bad the quality of google earth is too bad in that area otherwise it wasn’t a problem @ all to make a clear map!

  4. Yes, the Google Earth quality there is very low, but you can still use it as a base to start with. At least you have the town and the rivers on there, and you can see/guess where some of the roads are in combination with the existing maps.