‘East or west, Guilin landscape is best!’ Located in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China, the city is considered to be the pearl of China’s thriving tourist industry on account of the natural beauty and historic treasures. Covering an area of about 27,800 square kilometers (10,734 square miles), the city is rather compact when compared with other major tourist cities in the country. The stunning landscape in which the city is situated has a kind of magic that is all its own. The strangely shaped hills or karsts, with the verdant vegetation ranging from bamboos to conifers together with crystal clear waters and wonderful caves make the city such an appealing destination. It is also an important cultural city with a history of more than 2,000 years. The city has been the political, economic and cultural center of Guangxi since the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).
Located at the lower reaches of the Lijiang River, Yangshuo is known for having the most beautiful scenery in Guilin. It is surrounded by 10 peaks, aseeming to burst open like the petals of a lotus flower. Yangshuo is located at the center of the “green Hill.” Xu Xiake, a famous traveler of the Ming Dynasty praised Yangshuo as “A world of green lotuses and jade bamboo-shoots.”
The Big Banyan Tree: The Big Banyan Tree is now 17 meters high, 7.1 meters around the trunk, and covers an area of 1000 square meters. It is said that the banyan was planted in the Jin Dynasty and is famous for its age and towering beauty.
Moon Hill: It is a marvelous spectacle in Yangshuo. With an elevation of 380 meters, the hill is 230 meters in relative height and 410 meters in length. There are over 800 marble stairs leading to the cave. The cave is about 50 meters in height and width and is shaped like an archway. Viewed from different places, the moon takes on different shapes.
Lying at the place where Taohua (peach blossom) River meets Li River, with Guilin City on its northwest, Elephant Trunk Hill is regarded as the symbol of Guilin landscape. Originally named “Li Hill”, “Yi Hill” and “Chenshui Hill”, the hill has a history of 3.6 hundred million years. Resembling an elephant leisurely sucking water from the river with its long trunk, this hill is famous as Elephant Trunk Hill for hundreds of years.
With an elevation of 200m, the hill towers 55m above the water, measuring 108m in length and 100m in width.
Between the trunk and the legs of the elephant is a cave, with 17 meters long, 9.5 meters wide and 12meters high, in the shape of a full moon, penetrating the hill from side to side. People named it “Moon-over-Water Cave”. When the waters wave and the moonlight gleam, the scene is exceedingly enchanting. On the walls in and around this cave, over 70 inscriptions from the Tang and Song dynasties were found, praising the beauty of hills and water nearby.
Elephant Eye Cave
Climbing through the snaking stone path highway up to the hill, visitor will see another cave going through the hill, the Elephant Eye Cave. With a height of around 2 meters, the cave spans 5 to 10 meters in width, about 52 meters in length. It’s so called for the cave located right at the site for eyes. Through it visitors can overlook the beautiful scene of Guilin city.
On top of the hill stands a pagoda named Puxian Pagoda. Built in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), it looks like the handle of a sword. In and out of the cave are many carvings and inscriptions, the most well-known of which is a poem by Lu You (1125-1210), one of the four great poets of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279).
Li River, as one of the most popular attractions in China can be found on every travel itinerary of Guilin. There is a popular saying that the mountains and waters of Guilin are the best under heaven. Li River boasts the largest and most beautiful scenic area in Guilin even in China and attracts thousands of visitors.
Along the river, the rolling peaks, steep cliffs, green hills and clear water constitute a fascinating hundred-mile pictures gallery. The crystal clear Li River is located amid precipitous peaks hung with waterfalls. Among poems singing the praise of its beauty are these tow lines: “He who travels in Guilin hills finds himself in a fairyland”, and “He who sails along the Li River finds himself boating in a sweet dream.”
By boating along the stretch of 83-km-long waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo, one can best enjoy the charming beauties of the landscape, the green mountains, limpid waters, weirdly formed caves and dazzling stalactites and stalagmites. Moreover, people can enjoy the different beauties of Li River scenery at different seasons and weathers.