- Once romanized as Kweilin, the prefecture level city of Guilin can be found on the west bank of the Li River. With a name that means “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus” it is no wonder the area is a beautiful one. Exploring its ins and outs on a visit to China is sure to be an experience for the books. One of the first things to see in Guilin iAs the Li River. Spanning over 50 miles, the Li River is one way to see many of the popular sites of Guilin. The Reed Flute Cave is one of these, and has been for nearly 1,200 years. Also known as “The Palace of Natural Arts,” the Reed Flute Cave is a natural limestone cave flooded with multicolored lighting; it is over 180 million years old, and attracts hundreds of visitors daily. Inside the cave are stalagmites and stalactites, among other rock formations, but the Reed Flute Cave has more to offer than just that. Also inside you can view over 70 inscriptions written in ink that can be dated as far back as 792 AD. Another well known landmark to both Guilin and the Li River is Elephant Trunk Hill. It is known as the symbol of the city of Guilin. Its name stems from the fact that the hill structure itself looks like an elephant dipping its trunk in the water for a drink.
- What would be the opening of the elephant’s trunk is known as the Water-Moon Cave because at night the reflection of the moon can be seen through the archway of the hill, giving the illusion that it is both underwater and on the water’s surface. Take a Li River tour to really get to see the Water-Moon Cave, and Elephant Trunk Hill. Now Seven Star Park may not be incorporated into the river itself, but it does rest on its eastern side and is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon while in Guilin. Seven Star Park is the largest park in Guilin and is home to some beautiful scenery that should not be missed on a trip to this Chinese city. The Flower Bridge is one of these areas; it also holds some history, as it dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In ancient times, the area surrounding the bridge was planted with flowers, and in the spring they would bloom; this would cause the bridge to be enveloped in flowers. Unfortunately, that is not the case today, but the bridge itself is still quite worth a walk over.
- Another popular attraction located in Seven Star Park is the Seven Star Zoo. Built in the early 1960’s, Seven Star Zoo is the only zoo in all of Guilin. It is home to an array of animals, including reptiles, camels, and birds though the pandas have become the stars of the zoo since it’s opening. Since then, the zoo has raised 6 pandas, and visitors can currently see two giant pandas and several red pandas. The zoo even has an area for children called the Wonder Garden. Here, kids can interact with, and even feed, the sheep and rabbits. You might even be able to catch an animal show, and get to see something incredible! There’s even something for the history lovers of your group or family. Be sure not to miss the opportunity to see the Guihai Stele Forest located within the park. This collection of over 200 well-preserved upright stone tablets. These tablets are covered in ancient inscriptions and engravings that date back to the Tang and Song dynasties. They hold an especially important significance, as they were important to the development of Chinese calligraphy.
- Although one could easily spend more than a day exploring Seven Star Park, Guilin does have some other magnificent things to see. Jingjiang Prince’s Palace is one of these. This historical site is not only a popular tourist spot, but it also functions as Guangxi Normal University. Even though it has been burned down several times in its history, it is still the most well preserved Princes’ city in China. The property houses more than 40 buildings surrounding its main halls and pavilions, decorated with red walls and yellow tiles. These buildings are arranged on an axis centered around the Solitary Beauty Peak. From its summit you can see breathtaking panoramic views of Guilin. Almost more beautiful are the ornate Gates to the palace. Make sure to stop by the Peace Grotto, where previous princes went to worship. Inside the grotto are enshrined statues previously used for this worship. Don’t leave the palace before stopping in the Examination House, where you can take part in the exams the house was once used for.
- The Guilin Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Spot is another popular, must visit part of the city. The Guihu Lake Scenic Area is part of this. Known for its famous gardens and flowers, this scenic area is a popular spot for photos and views of the Li River. It is also home to many different bridges, like the Yingbin Bridge or the Guanyin Bridge. While these bridges are both beautiful to stand on and beautiful to look at, the crown jewel (or jewels) of this scenic area are Sun and Moon Twin Pagodas. Also known as the Silver and Gold Pagodas because of their colors at night, these pagodas combine art, culture, architecture, and natural landscape. The Moon pagoda has 7 stories, while the Sun pagoda has 9. Even more interesting is the glass tunnel linking the two towers…under water! Be sure to climb either of the pagodas for stunning views and the opportunity to view various cultural and heritage symbols, and Buddhist statues.
- A trip to Guilin would not be complete without trying some of the delicious restaurants and local delicacies. For dinner with a view, eat a meal at Fo Long Xuan. Designed like a palace, this three story high restaurant where you can dine on traditional Chinese cuisine. Wash down your meal with a glass of Guilin Sanhua, a popular rice wine that dates back to the song dynasty. If you are looking for something a bit more casual, somewhere you can really put yourself in the city’s culture, stop in to Rosemary Cafe. Decorated with local art and photos, they offer traditional western dishes. Don’t leave without having a slice of their chocolate cake! Another local favorite is Tong Lai Guan, known for its selection of local snacks and traditional dishes. You can even cook your own food in a hot pot, if you dare try! And if you’re just looking for a quick cup of coffee or a soothing afternoon, hit up Cafe Nissi. An inviting environment complete with fluffy pillows and homey couches, Cafe Nissi is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring. Or, try their delicious brunch before starting your day.
Guilin is a city rich with history and beautiful landscape. A cultural treat for all who decide to visit, Guilin is worth a stop when touring through China. Contact Stunning China now, and start planning your dream Guilin vacation.