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GUILIN

Situated in the northeast corner of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin is hailed by many as the most beautiful place in China and is one of the must-see destinations for most foreign tourists. According to a popular Chinese saying, "Guilin's scenery bests all others in the world." Its shapely-rising limestone hills and crystal-clear waters are often portrayed in Chinese artworks. Adding to its natural beauty are many fascinating caves.
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The city of Guilin was founded in the Qin Dynasty in 314 BC as a small settlement on the Lijiang River and later became the provincial capital in the Ming dynasty. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Guilin has developed a fledging industry, producing a variety of products such as pharmaceutical goods, tires, machinery, fertilizers and silk. From its noted profusion of flowering cassia trees, which have a strong sweet scent, it produces a number of specialties including perfume, wine, tea, cinnamon, and herbal medicine.
There are dozens of noted scenic spots within the boundaries of Guilin, such as the Elephant Trunk Hill, the city's symbol, so named because of its resemblance to an elephant sipping water from the Lijiang River with its trunk; the Piled Festoon Hill and Fubo Hill etc. There are two fantastic caves in the area, the Seven-Star-Rock Cave, which derives its name from the arrangement of surrounding peaks resembling the pattern of the stars of the Great Bear constellation, and Reed-Flute Cave, named after the reeds growing around the cave mouth. They both contain spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. A boat trip from Guilin along the Lijiang River presents one of the finest excursions on your tour of Guilin. The journey downstream to Yangshuo offers over 80 kilometers of breathtaking scenery.

Reed Flute Cave

Located 5 kilometers northwest of Guilin, the Reed Flute Cave is regarded as the largest and most impressive cave in Guilin. The cave is 240 meters long, whereas the touring distance is about 550 meters, mainly offering a magic fairyland of stalactites, stalagmites, stone pillars, stone curtains, image of birds, plants and animals in fantastic shapes and colors.

One grotto, which called the Crystal Palace of the Dragon King, can hold about 1000 people. During the war, the grotto once served as an air-raid shelter. Over 70 wall inscriptions from the Tang dynasty (618-907) were found in the walls, suggesting that the cave once been traveled by people in every dynasty. The highlight in this cave is a great slab of white rock hanging from a ledge like a cataract, with a human-shaped stalactite on its opposite. It was said that a visiting scholar tried to write a poem depicting the beauty of the cave, but It cost him so much time to find the right words that he finally turned to stone. The cave was opened to public in 1962. Famed as the Palace of Natural Art, the cave is now equipped with artificial lighting system to emphasize visiting effect.

Li River

Originated in Mountain Mao'er at Xin'an county northeast of Guilin, Li River winds its way southeast for about 437 km, passing through Guilin, Yangshuo, Pingle, Zhaoping and finally meets Xi River in Wulin. It boasts the largest and most beautiful scenic area in China and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. The 83-km-long waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo is the masterpiece of Li River, decorated with rolling hills, steep cliffs and fantastic caves, leisurely boats and lined bamboos. A poem says: "The river is a green silk ribbon, and the hills are jade hair-pins."

Elephant Trunk Hill

Situated majestically at the southeast of city and west bank of Li River, Elephant Trunk Hill is regarded as the symbol of Guilin's landscape. Originally named "Li Hill" and "Chenshui Hill", the hill has a history of 3.6 hundred million years. Resembling an elephant leisurely sipping water from the river with its long trunk, this hill is well known as Elephant Trunk Hill for hundreds of years. With an elevation of 200m, the hill towers 55m above the water, measuring 108m in length and 100m in width. Between the trunk and the legs of the stone elephant is a cave, in the shape of a full moon, penetrating the hill through both sides and the local people named it "Moon-over-Water Cave".

Diecai Hill Located north of Guilin by the Li River, Diecai Hill rises abruptly with an elevation of 73 meters. The grotesque-looking rocks, with patterns suggesting a great pile of folded brocade, gave the hill its present name Folded Brocade Hill. The hill consists of Yuyue Hill, Siwang Hill, Crane Peak and Bright Moon Peak. Many charming scenes such as Diecai Pavilion, Diecai Archway, Windy Cave and Cloud-catching Pavilion scatter on the hill. Diecai Pavilion, covering an area of 64sqm, with Yuyue Hill in the east, Siwang Hill in the west and Bright Moon Peak in north. Dexterously designed and elaborately built, the pavilion is single-storied with four angles, red pillars and a flat top, which is harmonious with the surroundings. With a horizontal board inscribed "Diecai Hill" hanging on it, Diecai Archway is a quite exquisite ancient building. A cave penetrating the Bright Moon Peak was named Windy Cave.The cave is famous for 90 Buddha images of the Tang and Song dynasties, as well as dozens of ancient stone carvings inside. Located at the top of the Folded Brocade Hill, Cloud-catching Pavilion, which is round and single -eaved in shape with a pinnacle, commands a splendid view of scenery noted early in the Tang dynasty.

Yangshuo

Located over 80 kilometers southwest of Guilin, Yangshuo is famed as the most beautiful and natural scenic spot around Guilin area with green hills, clear waters, peculiar peaks, and fantastic caves, and is normally the ending place of the Li River cruising. Yangshuo is a little town with fast development and being prosperous in the past 20 years due to more and more foreign tourists coming for a visit and stay for a short holidays. There are several small hotels and a big market selling all kinds of arts and handicrafts. The most famous scenery here is a hill called Green Lotus Peak, that is flat and smooth, resembles a mirror in its front view. There are many inscriptions carved on the hill cliffs, the most impressive scene is the Chinese character "Dai" which is about 5-meter-long and was caved in the early Qing dynasty.


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