Guilin is regarded as the country's most picturesque city and ranks second on the top ten Chinese tourist destinations. Two crystal-clear rivers meander through the city, which is encircled by mountains with unusual and bizarre rock formations and caves. Movements of the earth took place about 200 and 180 million years ago thrusting the limestone sediments out of the sea bottom. They were forced upwards more than 200 meters to the surface. This karst formation was molded through many years of erosion by the wind and rain to become the hills and rocks with unusual shapes. Guilin saw its first inhabitants in Qin Dynasty over 2,000 years ago and is currently home to 12 ethnic nationalities.
Don't make Guilin your first stop in China, save it for the third or fourth leg of your journey. Guilin is so relaxed with natural scenery to touch the soul. On arrival, take an evening stroll along the riverfront to enjoy the night view of Guilin.
Not far from Guilin's city center, this hill looks like a huge elephant stretching its trunk drinking water and hence the name. Elephant Trunk Hill has been the symbol of Guilin.
If time permits, you can also visit Fubo Shan and Seven Star Park which is close by.
Li River, Guilin
The Li River boasts most beautiful scenery and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The river cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo takes about 5 hrs. Cruising down the crystal clear river, you will see some extraordinary peaks, sprays of bamboo lining the riverbanks, fishers in small boats and picturesque villages. On our tours, lunch will be served on board the cruise boat.
There are other boat cruises that cater for the domestic market that are cheaper. However, we do not recommend them. Yes, you travel to experience different cultures, but it could get annoying if you caníŽt enjoy this beautiful scenery in peace and tranquility. Boats catering for the domestic market can be quite old and rattling with noisy tourist onboard.
The Li River cruise ends at Yangshuo and this is how most people come - by boat cruise. It's a great laid-back town set amid gorgeous limestone pinnacles. Yangshuo is perfect for exploring the sheer scenic beauty of the countryside and surrounding villages on a leisurely bike ride. The famous West street in Yangshuo is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants offering interesting Chinese/Western crossovers as well as western favorites such as pizzas, steaks or banana pancakes.
At night, West Street is transformed. Grab an outdoor seat and watch the world go by whilst sipping cappuccino and listening to your favourite Blues or Jazz or even Bob Marley tune.
The Reed Flute Cave
Some of the most extraordinary scenery Guilin has to offer is underground. The Reed Flute Cave got its name from a kind of bamboo growing outside which can be made into melodious flutes. The cave is filled with a large number of fantastic stalactites, stalagmites, rocks in strange shapes all lit up in multi-coloured lighting also known as the "Art Palace of the Nature". Inside the cave there are more than 70 inscriptions written in ink, dating back to 792 AD during the Tang Dynasty.
Eat & Drink
Guilin's Three Treasures
Guilin cuisine is known for its snacks and the use of spices, especially chili. The famous Guilin chili sauce is made of fresh chili, garlic, and fermented soybeans, and is considered one of the city's Three Treasures. The other two of the Three Treasures are Guilin Sanhua Jiu, a variety of liquor distilled from rice; and Guilin pickled tofu made from soya beans.
Guilin Mi Fen
Noodles made from rice. Ttraditionally the noodle and the topping is first eaten without soup, and once the topping has run out there is usually a pot of soup to add flavour to the rest of your noodles. There are also various pickles and condiments that you can add to your noodles. Guilin Mi Fen is also available in stir-fried form. Both are available everywhere in the region.
Ma Ti Gao
The literal translation is "Horse Hoof Cake". Rest assured that no part of this delicacy is made from any part of the horse. It is a crumbly cake stuffed with red beans filling.
A dumpling made from glutinous rice and bean paste wrapped in a bamboo or banana leaf.
Nightlife in Guilin is not abundant as in Yangshuo. Ask our local English speaking guide about the latest night life places in Yangshuo.
If you have more time
Bike riding around Yangshuo
Wandering through the countryside on a bike is one of the best things about Yangshuo. We offer many routes with a guide depending on your choice. Whichever route chosen, one enjoys the breathtaking scenery and taste of life far removed from the concrete metropolis.The villages often have dramatic mountain backdrops, and the people are generally friendly.
In Summer, you will see Bamboo rafting on the Yulong river, if time permits, ask our English speaking guide to take you further up-river and float down stream with your bike.
Impressions of Liusanjie
An outdoor performance of Chinese minorities directed by the internationally acclaimed Zhang Yimou featuring a cast of 500 wearing traditional Zhuang, Miao and Yao dress, and a highly impressive light show. The natural setting is breathtaking and the experience a memorable one.
During your time in Yangshuo, you might come across people who want to sell you cheap tickets to the Show. It's like watching Rugby from an apartment building next to a stadium - the view is far and not as good.
Longsheng Dragon Backbone Rice Terraces
About 100km north of Guilin, the 60 sq km of terraced rice fields were first built in the Yuan dynasty (AD 1206 - 1368) and completed during the Qing dynasty (AD 1644 - 1911) by the Zhuang minority. The terraced fields are built along the slopes winding from the riverside up to the mountain top. Home to the Zhuang and Yao people, you can also experience their unique culture with singing and dancing. Women dress in colourful costumes and grow their hair from birth without cutting them.
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