Li River, Guilin, China

One of Planet Earth’s most spectacular natural locations, the scenery surrounding Guilin is magical and dreamlike with its steep karst mountains rising in mysterious enchantment toward the sky, with echoes of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, to which Guilin’s forms are geologically related, but in a landscape setting rather than the seascapes of those locations.

Sunset over Guilin, China

The central Lake Shan of Guilin City is home to the Sun and Moon Pagodas, which are lit at night and make a prominent feature. Nearby, Elephant Hill Park, named after the rock formation and cave resembling a drinking elephant is a local beauty spot. Across the Li River, the 137 hectare Seven Stars Park provides excellent walking among its rock formations and caves.

Elephant Hill, Guilin, China

Other local beauty spots include Folded Brocade Hill, Solitary Beauty Peak, Wave-Subduing Hill, Returned Pear Cave and Wind Cave, whilst a little further, Reed Flute Cave Park offers pleasant strolls around its gardens, ponds and pavilions and its spectacular underworld caverns.

Stunningly dramatic, one of the best ways to appreciate the scenery is to enjoy a half-day cruise of the Li River to Yangshuo, during which you may witness the wonderful spectacle of the Cormorant fishermen at work.

Fishing with Cormorants, Li River, Guilin, China

To the north of Guilin, the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces are a swirling testament to the ingenuity of the Zhuang and Yao ethnic rice farmer’s adaptation to the high landscape, and date back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368 AD).

Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, Guilin, China

Climbing to over 1,000 feet in height, the terraces are a marvel, and at their best in October, when the fields are bright gold. If you are fond of snow, the winter also displays the architectural beauty of the curvaceous terraces in photogenic splendour.

Several villages in the rice fields are worth the visit, including Ping An, Dazhai, and Tiantouzhai, all of which offer great views and rewarding ethnic encounters. For the easiest access, a cable car ferries visitors from Dazhai to the viewpoint at Golden Buddha Peak.

 

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