Guilin is a small riverside city in southern China, and has long been one of the county's most tranquil and picturesque locales. Its name means 'Sweet Osmanthus', courtesy of the area's many sweet-smelling Osmanthus trees. The region's distinctive limestone karst hills provide a dramatic backdrop for the city, making it a favourite destination of poets, artists and photographers throughout the centuries.
The hills are believed to have been formed in tectonic shifts millions of years ago. Limestone sediments thrust up from the sea forming the unusual hills, caves and stone forests that characterise the city.
Guilin's two major lakes are Banyan Lake (Rong Hu) and Cedar Lake (Shan Hu). They offer scenic boat trips to view the hills, along with bridges, pagodas and ancient banyan trees, while also being connected via waterways to other lakes in Guilin. Another popular boat tour travels along the Li River to the town of Yangshuo, where visitors can spend a day exploring the mountainous city.
As Guilin is a tourist-oriented city, all the necessary amenities for travellers are available, including comprehensive public transport, plenty of restaurants and lots of souvenir shops. The city is popular with Chinese tourists too because of its clean air and splendid scenery.