Things to do in Guilin

This relatively small city is best known for its clear air and picturesque scenery. Most activities revolve around caves, mountains, rock formations, rivers, lakes, and gardens. All told, Guilin is a photographer's paradise.

Boat rides and cruises are a popular way to navigate scenic areas. Elephant Trunk Hill (Xiangbishan) is one of Guilin's most iconic sights. This large natural arch sits on the Li River's banks and resembles an elephant bending down to drink. Like most places of interest in this tourist-orientated city, Elephant Trunk Hill is situated in a park that boasts numerous other attractions and amusements.

Guilin is also famous for its caves and impressive rock formations. Visitors should try the Reed Flute Cave for a great hour-long tour through some of the area's most intriguing caves.

If travellers are willing to go farther afield, the Tianmen Mountain National Park is about a four-hour drive from Guilin. Tianmen is one of the most impressive scenic areas in China and boasts multiple attractions. From Zhangjiajie city at the base of the mountain, visitors can take one of the world's longest cableways up the peak. Once there, they can explore many trails, temples, and walkways, including the thrilling Walk of Faith - a transparent glass pavement built on the side of the mountain.

Seven Star Park gives visitors a taste of everything Guilin is famous for. Among other things, it features a zoo with Giant Pandas and tigers, extensive gardens, caves, the famous Flower Bridge and Camel Hill. Art lovers will enjoy the Guilin Art Park and the Guilin Arts Museum.

For shopping, browsing, and eating out, travellers can head to West Street (also aptly called Guilin Foreigner Street) for numerous restaurants, shops, stalls, and cafes. This is a colourful, vibrant, friendly and multicultural area.

Tianmen Mountain National Park photo

Tianmen Mountain National Park

A trip to Tianmen Mountain Park is an ideal weekend excursion from Guilin, boasting some of the most beautiful and most photographed landscapes in China. The city of Zhangjiajie ne…

Tianmen Mountain National Park

A trip to Tianmen Mountain Park is an ideal weekend excursion from Guilin, boasting some of the most beautiful and most photographed landscapes in China. The city of Zhangjiajie nestles within the famous mountain park, from where visitors can take one of the world's longest scenic cableways up into the mountains.

Tianmen Cave, a massive archway created by an ancient cliff collapse, is known as Heaven's Gate because it resembles a doorway into another world. Travellers have to climb 999 steps to reach this natural phenomenon, but it is well worth the effort and is said to bring happiness and health, the number 999 being a lucky number in Chinese culture.

Other attractions in the park include various scenic areas, some impressive temples and the terrifying Walk of Faith, a walkway constructed of glass so that, as visitors edge along it, they can see the ground 4,690 feet (1,430m) below. The transparent pavement is a uniquely thrilling sightseeing experience, with those who brave it rewarded by truly heart-stopping scenery. The mountains can get cold, so the best time to visit Tianmen is during summer and autumn (May to October).

Address Yongding District, Zhangjiajie

Website www.tianmenshan.com.cn

Reed Flute Cave photo

Reed Flute Cave

The limestone formations of Reed Flute Cave resemble everything from lions and monkeys to the skyline of Guilin itself, each with a name and story. Myths and atmospheric lighting a…

Reed Flute Cave

The limestone formations of Reed Flute Cave resemble everything from lions and monkeys to the skyline of Guilin itself, each with a name and story. Myths and atmospheric lighting add to its mystery and magic, with guides pointing out main attractions and ancient inscriptions dating back to the Tang dynasty more than 1,200 years ago. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the cave, and visitors should be prepared to wait for more people if they are in a group of less than 20. The cave is situated in a park with ponds, bridges and pavilions; a beautiful place in which to relax and wander either before or after the tour. For those travelling near Guilin with children, this is a wonderful attraction for the whole family.

Elephant Trunk Hill photo

Elephant Trunk Hill

Elephant Trunk Hill on the banks of the Li River has a large natural arch, faintly resembling an elephant drinking water. This natural limestone monument rises over 180 feet (55m) …

Elephant Trunk Hill

Elephant Trunk Hill on the banks of the Li River has a large natural arch, faintly resembling an elephant drinking water. This natural limestone monument rises over 180 feet (55m) above the water. The opening of the arch is called Water Moon Cave as the reflection of the moon at night appears as though it is both in and out of the water. Inside this cave there are more than 50 inscriptions dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Visitors can explore the hill and the cave by hiring one of the traditional bamboo rafts that paddle around the base. At the top of the hill is a two-story pagoda built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), intended to resemble a vase on the elephant's back when viewed from afar. The hill is part of a beautiful park with lovely lush hills, winding paths and a number of sculptures, many of which are elephant-themed. Dusk is possibly the best time to visit, as this is when the scenery is at its most dramatic.

Address Xiangshan