On the west bank of the Li River you will find Guilin, a prefecture-level city in the northeast of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Guilin, which means “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus,” is one of China’s most popular destinations thanks to the uniquely spectacular sites and the vivacious dining and shopping scene. Guilin is a place that should be experienced by all.
60-Second Geography – Guilin, China
- Guilin, formerly romanized as Kweilin, has gained popularity as a tourist destination due to its karst topography, or landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks. The Li River also flows through the city, adding to the picturesque scenery found throughout. Flute Reed Cave is one sight of Guilin to see on your vacation. Sometimes known as the “Palace of Natural Arts,” Flute Reed Cave gets its name from the type of reed that grow outside of the cave; the natural limestone cave is full of stalactites and other rock formations. More than 70 inscriptions, written in ink that can be dated as far back as 792 AD, can be found along the walls inside; these inscriptions tell us that Flute Reed Cave has been an attraction in Guilin for quite some time. Elephant Trunk Hill is another local landmark and popular attraction. It is seen as a symbol of the city, and got its name because it looks like an elephant drinking water.
- Moon Hill, another one of the many hills found throughout the city of Guilin, is a very unique piece of nature do to its structure. A wide, circular hole is found in the center of the hill; this karst formation is all that remains of what was once a limestone cave. Not only is it a marvel to see, but you can hike up it! If you are feeling extra adventurous, scale the mountain on one the many different rock climbing routes. At the top of Moon Hill you have a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding countryside, highly characterized by the karst hills of the region. A little distance from the city of Guilin, but absolutely worth the trip, is Longsheng Rice Terrace. These terraced fields are built along a slope winding from the riverside up to the mountain top. What is the most unique is that the terrace divides the mountain into layers of different nature based on the seasons. For example, in the summer it is common to see green rice shoots and in the fall you will see rice; these terraces were most likely built about 650 years ago!
- One of the most awe-inspiring sights to see on a trip to Guilin is the Jingjiang Princes’ Castle. Currently it is not only a visitors attraction, but Guangxi Normal University is attended by over twenty thousand students. Magnificent and grandly walled, Jingjiang Princes’ Castle has 4 halls, 4 pavilions, and 40 other buildings scattered throughout the property. Common in Chinese palaces, all the buildings on the property are decorated with red walls and yellow tiles. Not only is the castle itself a site to see, but within it there are a handful of other attractions. The Study Cave, located on the property, is the site of the first poem of praise ever written about the city of Guilin; it can be found engraved into its walls. An interactive attraction at Jingjiang Princes’ Castle is the Examination House: an imperial testing center where visitors can even partake in the exams that many Chinese scholars before had taken. The Fortune Well was believed to give these scholars good luck before their exams. They would drink the water, and then say prayers and offer sacrifices in the Confucius Temple, also located on the premises, to the gods to ensure they pass their exams. One of the most iconic structures in the Jingjiang Princes’ Castle is the Chengyun Gate, which marks the southern entrance to the area.
- With so many scenic spots in Guilin, deciding which ones to visit can be a challenge. On of the most incredible spots that should not be missed on your Guilin Vacation is Seven Stars Park. The largest comprehensive park in Guilin, it spans over 290 acres of space and contains breathtaking mountains, sparkling clear water, deep valleys, and plants and animals just to name a few! Four peaks from Putuo Mountain and three from Crescent Mountain resemble the Big Dipper constellation, and that is where the park gets its name from. Flower bridge, the oldest bridge in Guilin, is found within the park. Every summer the flowers surrounding it are in full bloom, hence where it gets its name from. One of the most notable sites to explore in Seven Stars Park is the Seven-Star Cave. An extensive limestone cave complex dating back over 1,000 years ago, Seven Stars Cave is littered with unique limestone formations with equally unique names. The park even offers a guided walking tour through the cave where you can learn more about how these stalactites came to be. Another family-friendly activity to partake in on your Guilin vacation is bamboo rafting. Enjoy a slow float down the Li River and take in the foliage that lines the banks of the water; two of the tour specials from Super Value Tours offer a bamboo rafting adventure!
- Guilin may be most known for its to die for scenery, but the bustling nightlife, local shopping, and delicious cuisine all add to the allure of this charming city. The most popular areas for shopping and enjoying a night on the town are found along Zhengyang Pedestrian Street. The lounges and nightclubs are all varied, so there is a little something for every type of night-owl. Amani Bar is known for its tasty western food, specifically pizza, and offers beautiful outdoor seating. After a drink you can wander along the shores of the nearby Li River and soak in the beauty of Guilin around you. Side Street Bar is a little more vibrant and exciting, also located along Zhengyang Pedestrian Street. With most of the inside occupied by the bar, Side Street Bar offers some of the most excellent alfresco seating in the area. With well-priced drinks and lively music, Side Street Bar delivers. For a cozy atmosphere and a varied music selection, check out Music Life Club, also known as “Lounge Bar.” 100 Degree Bar is a spot located in the downtown area, and favored by locals. Although there is no true dance floor, everyone is dancing by the end of the night; for a glimpse into the Chinese club scene, look no further.
- Guilin has many different dishes deemed local delicacies, and because the food in the area is made with the freshest, healthiest and most natural ingredients possible, it would be a travesty not to try some of Guilin’s best-known dishes. Guilin Rice Noodles have been a local breakfast staple since the Qin Dynasty. For some of the best Guilin Rice Noodles, stop by Chongshan Rice Noodles. Li River’s Story Restaurant offers delicious steamed Li River fish, another item that has to be tried on your getaway in Guilin. Not exactly a meal, Guilin chili sauce is used widely by locals in many of their dishes. Made from fresh chili, garlic, and fermented soybeans, Guilin chili sauce is considered one of the city’s Three Treasures. For the most ideal and authentic food local to Guilin, look no further than Taste Make Restaurant. With five locations spread out through the city, Taste Make Restaurant is the best place to be able to try all of the local dishes Guilin has to offer.
- For a more laid back day on your trip to Guilin, be sure to check out the shopping. Xicheng Pedestrian Street is a great place to start, especially at night. When the sun sets, long rows of red tents appear along the street, and the night market begins! These stalls are filled with various local specialties, handmade crafts, trinkets, and snacks. It runs from 7pm to midnight, and offers an experience unlike any shopping trip you may have experienced before. Guilin Niko Niko Do Plaza is the largest shopping center in the city, with nine floors including an underground food supermarket. Located in the center of downtown, it is a great place to see the people of Guilin and enjoy a snack too! Too Shopping Mall, a large commercial center, is quite a shopping and entertainment hub. Not only do they have clothing and shoe stores, but a supermarket, restaurants, coffee shops, and even a movie theatre can be found there. If you are looking to get out of the sun and the scenery for a day, Too Shopping Mall has something to offer all visitors.
Guilin is a beautiful city, steeped in history and rich landscapes. It is a delicate mix of hustle and bustle, and peaceful, serene energy. Super Value Tours knows Guilin, and after a trip with them you will too.
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