Guilin travel guide (Part 2)
The city has undergone a major facelift, adding a few new tourist sights to its natural attractions. While places such as Banyan and Cedar Lake are pleasant enough, the hills beckon. The central sights are close enough together to comfortably walk between them, but if you get tired you could hop on free bus #58 which travels to all the major attractions, or take a taxi.
You really don’t need a tour to see the best of Guilin, but for Li River cruises you might want to enlist the help of your hotel booking desk or CITS at 11 Binjiang Lu.
The West Bank
Elephant Trunk Hill (Xiangbi Shan), Binjiang Lu (daily ; ¥25, bus #2). There are no prizes for guessing the reason for this hill’s name, and for once it really is easy to see – the rock truly looks like an elephant taking a drink from the river. It’s so famous that it has become the Guilin city logo.
Banyan Lake (Rong Hu) and Cedar Lake (Shan Hu). These two lakes were originally part of the city moat during the Tang dynasty, but have been recently rehashed as an attractive addition to Guilin’s myriad of sights. The two lakes are joined by the Sun Bridge and there’s now a pair of pagodas gracing Cedar Lake and, to the north, a series of replicas of world-famous bridges – the Golden Gate is here among others!
♥ Jingjiang Princes’ Palace, Jiefang Dong Lu (daily ; ¥50). When Emperor Hongwu appointed Zhou Shouqian, a distant relative, to preside over this southerly region, he began a legacy that would last 300 years. The Jingjiang Palace was built in the late 14th century, around the same time as the Forbidden City.
While its smaller stature reflects Guangxi’s minor vassal status, parallels with the Beijing monument are obvious. Inside, you’ll find modern portraits of each of the 14 Jingjiang Princes along with relics unearthed from their tombs, which lie un-restored, a few miles out of town.
To the north of the palace, Solitary Beauty Peak (Duxiu Feng; daily ; ¥15) offers another of Guilin’s short, steep climbs – as usual, rewarded with fine views.
♥ Wave Subduing Hill (Fubo Shan), Binjiang Lu (daily ; ¥15; bus #2). At the northern end of Binjiang Lu, you’ll find the quiet and atmospheric Fubo Hill, which makes for a great sunset spot. The peak has a number of caves and paths running to the top and although it’s only a short ascent, be prepared for a steep climb. At the top you are rewarded with excellent views over the area including the city and Elephant Trunk Hill.
Folded Brocade Hill (Diecai Shan), Diecai Lu (daily ; ¥20; bus #2). Folded Brocade Hill gets its name from the impression that it is comprised of several hills folded into one another. The hill is famous for its Wind Cave which gusts cool breezes and can be very refreshing on a hot day. Unfortunately, the cave is fairly near the bottom of the hill, so no matter how cool you feel, you’ve still got a short steep climb ahead of you.
|♥ Seven Star Park, Ziyou Lu (daily ; ¥35; bus #58). On the eastern side of the river, you’ll find the attractive Seven Star Park, which contains a series of paths running between and up to the seven lush peaks that give the park its name.
Many of the peaks are capped by poetically placed pagodas, and from here it’s hard to believe there are taxis and buses busily rumbling along the other side of the river. While the real pleasure of a visit here is soaking up the landscape, there is also a temple, a collection of stelae and the Seven Star Cave (daily ; ¥30).
Camel Hill at Seven Star Park
See a large picture of Camell Hill♥♥ Reed Flute Cave, Ludi Lu (daily ; ¥60; bus #3 or #58). Some 10 miles out of Guilin lies this most famous of Guangxi’s grottoes. A vast complex eventually opening out to a huge central cavern, it was used in the past as a refuge from Japanese bombs, but now sees visitors who come for pleasure,
Its name derives from the reeds that grow near the cave. They are converted into tiny flutes and sold as souvenirs to tourists. In true Chinese style, all of the stalagmites and stalactites (just remember mites go up and tights come down) have been given names and are brightly lit to try and reinforce (or create) this appearance.
The cave can get very busy and you’re supposed to go in a group with a guide (Chinese-speaking unless you wait for a foreign group to assemble), who turns on the lights as you go round. If you want to see the cave in more peace, drift back from your group and wait until the next one comes to light the cave up again, and so on.
The temperature remains a pleasant 72°F throughout the year, but the path can be slippery so wear good shoes. Trips can be arranged through your hotel or a travel agent in Guilin. Or negotiate directly with a taxi driver – the ride out there should cost around ¥20.
On the Green
Golf has taken hold in Guangxi and there are a few good courses that offer stunning views of its famed scenery. You can rent clubs from the club shops. Below are a couple of courses to try: Guilin Li River Country Golf Club, Zhujiang Dock. This 7,100-yard, par-72 course is a 40-minute drive from the city. Merryland Golf Club, Xin’an County.
Thirty miles northeast from Guilin, the Merryland is a USGA approved 7,073-yard, par-72 course and there’s also a theme park here to keep the kids happy. To get here take the bus from Guilin’s bus terminal to Xin’an, then a taxi.
If you want to take a short motorboat trip around Guilin, the 90-minute Two Rivers and Four Lakestrip (¥150) runs daily – you can book tickets through your hotel and CITS. You can also take boat trips to watch cormorant fishing from Guilin, although you’ll find more authentic options in Yangshuo – ask at your hotel for details.
♥♥♥ Guilin to Yangshuo
The famed journey from Guilin to Yangshuo takes between three and five hours depending on the water level and certainly offers the spectacular scenery people come to see. However, this trip is marred for
some by the sheer number of boats (sometimes as many as 50, traveling in convoy) and the
obsession of some Asian tourists with having their photo taken in every conceivable place, thinking nothing of shoving you out of the way to do so!
Cruise along the Li River
This, along with the price (¥400-540), including lunch (though specialties such as snake wine are extra), dissuades some more thrifty travelers, who choose to take a shorter boat ride from Yangshuo or Xingping instead. Nonetheless, it is a stunning voyage and, if you choose to skip the lunch, you’ll have the open deck to yourself for half an hour or so.
The various peaks along the way have all been given imaginative names (meaning you have to use your imagination), such as “Lion Watching the Nine Horses.” These are the highlight for many domestic tourists.
You can arrange this trip from all travel agencies and many hotels in Guilin and the price includes transfer to the Zhujiang Dock(about 45 minutes from your hotel) and the round-trip bus ride from Yangshuo to Guilin –though you’re far better off staying on in Yangshuo, if you have the time, as the day-trip only offers you a few hours. If you decide to stay, either take your luggage onto the boat if they’ll let you, or keep it on the bus and collect it in Yangshuo.
Most boats leave between 9 and with buses picking up an hour beforehand.
Guilin is a major producer of osmanthus tea and if you want to learn more about this you can take a trip to the Tea Cultural Institution at Yashan.
Another interesting trip is out to Yuzi Paradise halfway to Yangshuo, which is claimed to be the largest artistic park in the world. Once there, you’ll find the grounds littered with interesting sculptures, set to the backdrop of nature’s own creations, the contorted limestone tower peaks. You can also see artists at work on bronzes, ceramics and glass sculptures.
There are also tai chi and yoga classes. Shuttle buses from Guilin bus station run to the park, and, if you want to stay, there’s an ultra-modern hotel on-site.
Guilin travel guide (part1)
Camel Hill picture
Elephant Trunk Hill picture,
Ping’an & Longjimap of Guilin
Cities and regions of China homepage
China Travel Guide homepage