The beautiful landscapes around Guilin are renowned for inspiring Chinese poets and artists alike. The mountain views often appear as the subject of ink-scroll illustrations with the meandering Li River weaving its way through the scene. This area is one of the best in China for taking it easy and simply enjoying your beautiful surroundings.

Li River

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 memory card.

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 the landscape.

Natural Guilin

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. There may be a lot of steps, but it’s worth it for the vista from the summit.

Relaxing Yangshuo

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.

Outdoor Activities

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 such as the Yulong River.

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.

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.

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