Exploring in Guilin

Most visitors spend two days in Guilin, one day on the Li River Tour, the other exploring the hills, caves, and parks of the town and its surroundings. The order in which you do your sightseeing is not important; however, the sequence given below is often the one followed.

Solitary Beauty Peak. The Du Xiu Feng rises steeply in the enter of town. The climb to the top is arduous and should be undertaken only by visitors who are confident about their physical condition. There is a fine view from the summit terrace. On this peak you will see cliffs on which are engraved Chinese characters dating from as far back as the Tang (A.D. 618-907). The hill used to be surrounded by a wall enclosing a Ming palace, but all that now remains is a moat, portions of the wall, and a gate flanked by a pair of stone lions.

Hill of Folded Colors. The Die Cat Shah can be climbed without too much difficulty. It is located a little to the north of Solitary Beauty peak, and gets its name from the limestone formations on the hill, which resemble skeins of colored silk thread. At the top, there is a small circular building known as the “Cloud Touching” Pavilion; there is a sheer drop of hundreds of feet to one side. Near the top there is a cave, known as Wind Cave: it is strangely shaped–like a gourd big at both ends but with a neck allowing only one parson at a time to pass. There are some Buddhist images and carved inscriptions on the cave walls; the strong, ever-present draft gives the name to the cave. Note the two poems carved into the cliff face:one is by Zhu De, the other by Xu Deli, a teacher of Man Zedong.

Fuboshan. This hill is named after a Han general, a legendary hero who passed through the town on a military campaign. There used to be a temple dedicated to him, but all that remains is a bell weighing two-and-a-half tons and a large cooking pot. The hill stands alongside the Li River and contains a famous cave called the Returned Pearl Cave (Huanzhutong). A legend tells that a pearl, which illuminated the cave, was stolen by a fisherman. He became so ashamed of his deed that he returned the pearl so giving the cave its name. You will note a stone pillar inside the cave that comes within just a few inches of the ground. The “missing piece,” according to legend was removed with a single slash of a sword, again by the general. At another place on the hill you will see the Thousand Buddha Cliff where there are about 300 carvings of the Buddha, dating from the Tang and Song dynastic,