Guilin is famed as the most scenic place under Heaven for its dramatically shaped Karst hills, fantastic caves, and limpid water. Visitors from all over the world are impressed and inspired by its beautiful landscape, and wonder how Mother Nature has created such a wonderful land.
In geographic terms, Karst Topography is a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite . South China is a major Karst area in the world, and Guilin is the most typical and rare example of Karst Topography in terms of its scale and uniqueness.
Guilin area was a gulf several hundred million years ago. Salty sea water kept dissolving and wearing off the limestone layers, and slowly developed the original shapes of Guilin’s hills under water. In the movement of the earth’s crust, the sea gave way to the land. Then about another 70 million years had passed, with the help of the natural elements of wind, rains, and rivers above and under ground, the isolated limestone peaks and fantastic stalagmite caves of Guilin have been developed.
Guilin is rich with rivers, and the water is limpid like mirrors reflecting the beautiful Karst hills. The Li River passing across the region is the soul of Guilin’s natural beauty. The great Tang Dynasty poet Han Yu (768-824) was deeply inspired when cruising down the Li River of Guilin, and wrote down a famous line “the river winds like a green silk ribbon, while the hills are like jade hairpins”.
Some of the famous Karst hills and caves in Guilin:
Elephant Trunk Hill
Elephant Trunk Hill is the symbol of Guilin. It is located where the Peach Blossom River merges with the Li River. The hill is a prime example of Karst rock formations. The hill’s shape resembles an elephant drinking from the Li River. There are many scenic spots located near the Elephant Trunk Hill. Visitors can hire small bamboo rafts to take them around the hill.
Nine Horse Nine Fresco Hill
The cliff face of Nine Horse Nine Fresco Hill has natural images of what appeared to be a group of horses. Variegated in yellow and white, dark and light, the horses assume a variety of poses. Legend says that if a person can point out all the nine horses on the precipice, she or he would be the winner of the next Imperial Examination.
A scenery on the 20 RMB Chinese Bank Note
When the river takes a big turn at Xingping, the scenery on the 20 Yuan note shows up: the beautiful landscape, the country scenery and verdant bamboo greeting you all the way along the river in breeze, and fishermen floating by on bamboo rafts with their cormorants.
Fubo Hill has its half standing in the river and the other half perching on land. The river waters are blocked by the hill and eddied, creating wavelets, hence the name – Subduing Wave Hill (literally means the waters has been subdued by the hill).
Reed Flute Cave
What make Reed Flute Cave so marvelous are the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that can be found inside the cave. While walking through the cave, visitors feel like they are being transported to different environments. Some sections seem like a forest of crystal trees, while others seem like underground mountain ranges and even cities.
Crown Cave is a 12 km deep huge stalagmite cave system. The cave tour starts from taking a sightseeing elevator down the 36 meters high cave hall, followed with a walking tour, a boating tour through an underground river, and a railway tour in the cave.