Guilin is a beautiful city in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, sitting on the west bank of the Li River. Its name means “forest of Sweet Osmanthus”, owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city. The city has long been renowned for its unique scenery of Karst topography and is one of China’s most popular tourist destinations.
Guilin itself is like most other medium size Chinese cities, other than that it has a large number of western-style hotels, tourists and is relatively free of air pollution. Many Chinese domestic tourists also flock to this area. What makes it special is its proximity to many picturesque limestone mountains and formations. The town center is surrounded by two rivers and four lakes and studded with shear sided karst mountains. Outside the city center, the buildings are less well kept. The main industry in the city is tourism.
Guilin is a truly beautiful city, boasting “blue mountains, green water, astonishing caves, and beautiful stone”. There are many scenic places within short traveling distance of Guilin. These include Longsheng with its famous Longji rice terraces; The Li jiang river, a scene of which is printed on the back of 20 Chinese Yuan bank note; Yangshuo, a small city downstream form Guilin; and much more. This makes Guilin an excellent base for exploring the northern end of Guangxi region.
Li River is the symbol of China’s natural landscape. To take a cruise downstream on Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo will definitely feast your eyes on green towering pinnacles, crystal waters and bamboo groves. With water buffalo patrol in the fields, ducks paddle on the water, farmers reap paddies, cormorant fish and kids splash in the water, you will be imbued with a strong sense of returning to the nature of the Garden of Eden.
Yangshuo of Guilin is becoming the backpackers’ paradise. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride in Yangshuo countryside to appreciate its charm: karst peaks, villages, rivers, rice fields and friendly farmers, immersing you in nature and culture as you pedal along. Relax yourself in one of the cafes in simple and unsophisticated old West Street. Drink beer or coffee, telling your stories or listen to travel stories by the other people from all over the world.
During your trip to Yangshuo, I would like to recommend you a famous night show called “Impression Liu Sanjie” directed by the famous Chinese director, Zhang Yimou. I was astonished when I watched it for the first time. It is set in the natural landscape of Yangshuo, and the stage for the performance is composed of a two-kilometer-long water area with twelve mountains as the background. It is the largest natural theater in the world. The whole performance lasts for about 60 minutes with a cast of some 600 performers, all of whom are local fishermen. The site of the great performance is about one kilometer away from the West Street. You can walk there in 10 to 15 minutes.
Guilin area is also home to the ethnic Zhuang, Yao, Miao and Dong people and is featured with colorful and varied national traditions with rich and elegant folk customs. It is the place you will have a chance to touch the nature and farmers’ daily life.