Guilin is blessed with a number of
natural features within the city. The area
is famous for its cave systems, and one
of the best examples is Reed Flute Cave
with its improbably shaped stalactites and
stalagmites illuminated by coloured lights.
Another large and impressive cavern is at
Seven Star Park where you can also stroll
around the craggy hills and pretty gardens.
At Mt Diecai you may climb to the top for
views over the city and the river. Although
it may feel like a lot of steps, it’s worth it for
the vista from the summit.
Longji Rice Terraces
The Longji Rice Terraces are a marvel
of ancient agriculture. Resembling
stairs cut into the hillside, the fields
were built 500 years ago during the
Ming Dynasty. One popular walk
is to start at the Zhuang village of
Ping An for a trek of around three
hours. Climb the steps through
the terraces with the panorama
gradually expanding until you reach
the viewpoint at the top of the ridge.
From here the trek becomes easier,
tracing the contour around the
natural bowl to a second viewpoint
where you can drop back down to
the village. As you walk, look out for
the local Yao women who grow their
silky black hair to extreme lengths.
Also known as Longsheng or
the Dragon’s Backbone, the rice
terraces can be visited on a day
trip from Guilin. But for those who
want to explore more of the area,
you may stay in a guesthouse in
one of the small villages which will
allow for longer walks and a better
appreciation of the local customs.
A highlight of any visit to Guilin is a leisurely
cruise down the Li River past limestone hills,
tranquil fishing scenes and picturesque
villages. Around each curve in the river
is another panorama that is equally as
beautiful as the last. The journey takes
around four hours so there is plenty of time
to soak up the scenery and fill your camera’s
The end of the cruise is at the countryside
town of Yangshuo, a great place to stop for
a night or two to relax and fully appreciate
Yangshuo is an attractive town with
a relaxed pace of life. Here a favourite
activity is strolling slowly along the streets,
exploring markets and stopping in local
cafés. After the hustle and bustle of China’s
big cities this is a place to unwind and
enjoy your surroundings.
While in Yangshuo, an unforgettable
experience is Impression Sanjie Lu, a
spectacular sound and light show set on
the river with hundreds of performers. The
show is directed by Zhang Yimou who
also created the Beijing Olympic opening
ceremony. Also watch a fascinating
demonstration by the cormorant fishermen
who reveal their centuries-old techniques.
There are many ways to fully immerse
yourself in the spectacular scenery
around Yangshuo. Choose from walking
through the fields, cycling on the rural
roads and pathways or rafting on one of
the quiet tributaries.
This is a day for encountering the
local people and making unexpected
discoveries. Your guide will lead the way
but you may stop to take photographs,
explore the countryside and observe
daily life as you wish.