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Monday, 01 May 2017

Ten Things to Do In Guilin

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The fantastic Li River karst scenery of south China, a major subject of Chinese landscape painting, draws millions of visitors each year. They may come for the scenery but history buffs like me also discover plenty to intrigue them as Guilin's position as an historic highway between the central plains and the south has left a tangible Guilin is also a paradise for outdoor activities enthusiasts, with the Yulong River valley near Yangshuo a sublime spot for cycling, hiking and boating. Here are some of our Guilin highlights:



1. Boat the Li River

The Li River is iconic Guilin, synonymous with the almost surreal karst scenery it has both sculpted and fed for eons. The outer-skin of the limestone peaks has been washed away through millennia of water erosion leaving a fairytale landscape. The combined length of the Li and Gui Rivers is 437km but the most acclaimed scenery is found between Guilin and Yangshuo. Millions each year take to these winding jade waters. As the river meanders south towards Yangshuo the karst formations become more picturesque, with many having names like Camels Crossing the River and Nine Horses Picture Hill. Take a tourist barge with English speaking guides from Guilin’s Mopanshan Pier for a four-five hour journey along the most scenic stretch of the river to Yangshuo. Tickets can be bought from Guilin travel agents and hotels for RMB250-300 (US$40-50), including a free shuttle bus to the pier.

Guilin Li River 1


2. Hike Ethnic Villages in the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces

The marvel of the once remote and mysterious Dragon’s Backbone rice terraces brings tourists by the busload to this remote quarter of Guilin. The rice terraces are a great place to learn about the traditions and cultures of China’s ethnic minorities. Before the modern world arrived, the local Yao and Zhuang minority fleeing Han Chinese encroachment, led an isolated life, but were pushed higher and higher into the hills. Forced to cultivate ever-steeper slopes, they cut the landscape into the remarkable step formations that remains to this day. The most popular hike route is along the old stone trail that connects the principal villages of the Longji Scenic Area. At the entrance to the Scenic Area there’s a place where your bus / car will stop for you to buy a mandatory RMB100 (US$16) ticket. After this there remains a considerable drive into the scenic area itself, which is home to 13 villages in total.

Longsheng Rice Terraces


3. Chill in Yangshuo’s China’s Backpacker Haven

The county town of Yangshuo has for years been southern China expats' favorite pastoral getaway but its idyllic scenery, mild climate, low costs and unique laid-back vibe is attracting a growing number of long-term foreign residents. The country haven, which nestles between karst peaks on the east bank of the meandering Yulong River is a paradise for outdoor activities enthusiasts, with the river valley a sublime spot for cycling, hiking and boating.

Yulong River

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Last modified on Monday, 01 May 2017

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