No visit to Guilin would be complete without the Li River cruise to Yangshuo. This trip is 80 km long and takes about seven hours. It may seem a bit long but actually we weren't bored at all. Apart from about an hour spent inside while eating lunch ( its cost was included in the ticket price) we decided to stay on the top deck. The weather was beautiful ( although the typical mist was wrapping the hills) and the scenery was stunning. Along winding Li River we saw bamboo forests, small villages, fishermen in their boats, women doing their washing but above all - the fantastic peaks and rock formations. Our guide pointed at some most beautiful hills and rocks telling us their poetic names, and, surprisingly they seemed to fit perfectly.
Yes, it was a sheer pleasure. So don't hesitate and go on the cruise if you happen to be in Guilin.
If you look to the right of this picture, inbetween the flowers and the large building, you will see a smallsh pyramid. I had no idea what this was, or indeed what it's purpose was, so I wandered over to it and found you could go inside.
Once inside, you find a flight of steps, and at the bottom of these is a huge underground market, that I am sure most tourists will miss, as it is actually quite well hidden! I had gone through this square on several occasions before I even realised it was there!
The market itself is quite ramshackle, but it makes for an interesting stroll through and is a great place to do a bit of people watching.
Fubo Hill is situated on the west bank of the Li river. On its southern side is Huanzhu Dong ( Pearl Returning Cave). As the legend goes once the cave used to be illuminated by a pearl guarded by a dragon. A wily fisherman stole the pearl, but filled with remorses decided to return it.
Nearby there is Thousand Buddha Cave with not a thousand but about 400 statues of Buddha coming from the times of Tang and Song dynasties.
Cormorant Fishing is still actually practised in Guilin. I had read about it before I got there, but had not been able to understand what actually happened and how the fish were caught and not eaten by the Cormorant! After all, the Cormorant is in the water, and the fisherman is in his boat - it's kind of tough to stop the bird eating the fish....
It still wasn't obvious to me when I watched the Cormorant fishing start. Essentially the fisherman appear to fish properly during the day, and then put on a display for the tourists (including many Chinese tourists) at night. A boat with tourists on sails slowly down the river, and two Cormorant fishermen on the rafts go along on either side of the boat allowing tourists to watch and take photographs. Fortunately I had a high power flash gun with me which just about coped!
Duxiu Feng ( the Peak of Lonely Beauty) is in the very middle of the town. To get to the top (152m) you must climb about 300 steps but breathtaking views are a real reward. In the 14th century there used to be a palace at the foot of the hill, but now there are just the remains of it.
Apart from the fantastic views I was also impressed by a couple of other things here and all over Guilin. The place is very neat and tidy. Every hundred metres or so there are dustbins and you won't find any litter elsewhere. Considering the fact that all touristic places are visited by crowds of people it came as a nice surprise.
It does resemble the elephant drinking water from the river. Between its trunk and the legs there is a cave called 'Moon-over-Water Cave. On its walls you can find many inscriptions coming from the Tang and Song dynasties. Everywhere in China you must pay to see any place of interest. In case of Xiangbi Shan the admission is about 15 RMB. But it's worth it. If you want to spend more money you may fancy a short trip on the raft.
From Shan Hu, you can follow the interconnecting waterways and arrive upon nearby Rong Hu, which has many more diversions available... Pictured here, a nice view of Rong Hu around sunset, including the traditional Chinese teng at the lakeside, as well as the classic limestone peaks topography in the far distance... Also very close to this area, you can find an extremely old banyan tree, long revered by the people...
Guilin Central Square is pretty big (nowhere near as big as Tianenman Square), but certainly big by European standards!
There are a few things worth looking out for. At the oppositie end to the big shopping Mall (i.e. the same end as the Guilin Sheraton is situated), there is a huge map of the world embedded in the pavement there.
Then on one of the sides you can find palm trees. There's also the pyramids I mentioned in the previous tip!
Around it you'll find restaurants and fast food shops. My first night there I was tired and hungry, so I just grabbed some fast food and sat on a bench in the middle of this huge square. It was virtually deserted, I think I was the only one there most of the time, but it's always interesting to watch the locals going about their business when they walk through. I got strange looks, so I'm not sure how safe it was to be there, but I certainly didn't feel threatened being there.
After nightfall at Rong Hu, the water fountains at the surface of the lake come alive for a wonderful water show... Using variable levels of water pressure and colored lights, accompanied by some lovely pieces of music, the water fountains provides a delightful fantasia for the senses... It's not quite to the level of the Bellagio water show in Las Vegas, but it makes for a pleasant and romantic evening...
This legendary town lies about 65 km from Guilin. Picturesquely situated among limestone hills it is a true attraction for tourists. The atmosphere here is more relaxed and lazy than in big cities. Wherever you go the green peaks dominate the scenery; you see them from every corner because the buildings are low. Yangshuo is an excellent place for shopping. Numerous street vendors and shops offer souvenirs, clothes and crafts at cheaper prices than in big city.
Take the Yao Mountains Cable tour. This is a 1400 metre cable car ride with the option of tobogganing down the mountain. The view is spectacular of Guilin and surrounds.
Unfortunately, we got to the site at 3.00pm when mist began forming from the south at a rapid rate. This meant that the view from the south was almost obliterated and the view from the north becoming so.
It would have been great if we had gone earlier. So, advice- ask around to find out what weather is expected and time your visit appropriately. Secondly, take along some polarised lens.
Cost: 70 Yuan with 35 Yuan for toboggan
At night time, Rong Hu transforms into an even more romantic setting than by day, as the lights come up around the lakeside... This photo shows Rong Hu after darkness has set in, with the green and violet reflections on the water and one of the old-fashioned Chinese style circular bridges...
The bridge pictured here, a stunning architectural achievement, is made almost entirely of glass...! It is located at one end of Rong Hu, and crosses to a tiny island... Fortunately or unfortunately, the glass bridge is forbidden to walk on and the entrance to the bridge is fenced off...
Immediately adjacent to the Li Jiang, and smack dab in the middle of downtown Guilin, Shan Hu is a delightful little lake, well, more of a pond, really, that is charmingly landscaped and contains a number of nicely placed rocks on its shore for people to sit on and admire the view of the two large colorful pagodas nearby...
Once they are in the water, the birds know exactly what to do, and they swim to the front of the raft (where there are some lanterns) and start to look for fish.
I didn't work out exactly what the lanterns were for. It is possible that they were put there to help the birds see the fish in the water, or to attract the fish, or to help the fisherman see when a Cormorant caught a fish. Or possibly it was all three things!
Anyhow, every now and then, a Cormorant would duck down under the water to hopefully catch a fish in its beak. I still wasn't sure how the fisherman was going to get the fish from the brd however - he wasn't about to dive in as he was fully dressed in normal clothes!