Situated in the north-eastern corner of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin is considered one of China’s most beautiful and scenic destinations, claiming to have the “finest mountains and rivers under heaven.” Its name means “forest of sweet osmanthus,” owing to the large number of fragrant sweet osmanthus trees located in the city.
The city of Guilin is surrounded by two rivers and four lakes and is studded with sheer sided karst mountains. It is said that the two rivers are likened to green silk ribbons, while the dramatic hills seem like emerald hairpins. The rich natural resources have served as inspiration for artists and painters since ancient times, and numerous inscriptions and paintings have recorded the poems that eulogise its beauty in works of literature.
Guilin is located at 109°E longitude and 24°N latitude in north-eastern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The Guilin Municipal Region covers an area of 27,809 square kilometres. The altitude ranges from 140 to 160 metres.
Guilin sits in a subtropical monsoon zone with a warm and moist climate, which is moderate all year round. However, visitors should be prepared for a bit of rain, with annual precipitation of 1,900 mm. The average year-round temperature is 19°C (66°F). The coldest temperature occurs in January at 8°C (46°F) and the hottest occurs in July at 34°C (93°F). The best time to travel to Guilin is between April and October.
The population of Guilin is about 4.938 million, and the urban population is approximately 720,000.
With a population of about five million in the city and surrounding areas, Guilin is home to 28 minority nationalities, including the Zhuang, Hui, Yao and Dong, which make up 8.5 per cent of the population. Each minority has its own unique customs and festivals.
There are more than 50 domestic flights each week to key cities in China and 29 flights per week to Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Macau. The two railway stations provide direct links to Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Kunming, Nanning, Guangzhou and Shenzhen as well as Hanoi in Vietnam. The land infrastructure links Guilin to all parts of Guangxi Province and key cities in the Pearl River Delta, including Dongguan, Guangzhou and Zhuhai.
The development of Guilin tourism has had a good effect on dining. It is said that Guilin cuisine is a combination of Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan dishes, and the sour and spicy flavours are its best features. The most famous “Three Treasures of Guilin” are Guilin Sanhua alcohol, Guilin pickled tofu and Guilin chilli sauce. Another honoured Guilin dish is Guilin rice noodle, which has been the local breakfast staple since the Qin Dynasty and is renowned for its delicate taste.
Most of Guilin people speak the Guilin dialect, which belongs to the Northern dialect system, with similar accents to the Hubei and Sichuan dialect. It is not difficult for people who know Mandarin to understand the major part of the Guilin dialect.
Main Tourist Attractions
The Li River is the most important part of Guilin’s landscape and is 170 kilometres long. The Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is the highlight of any trip to north-eastern Guangxi Province. Karst peaks surprise visitors at each bend of the limpid river. Water buffalo graze the fields, peasants reap rice paddies and fishermen float by on bamboo rafts. With a taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the scenery along the Li River has become one of China's top tourist destinations.
Elephant Trunk Hill
As the symbol of Guilin, Elephant Trunk Hill is a major tourist attraction in the scenic area. Elephant Trunk Hill is located on the western bank of the Li River. The shape of the hill is just like a huge elephant drinking water from the river with its trunk. Shui Yue Cave (Water Moon Cave), a semi-round cave penetrated by water, is between the elephant’s trunk and legs. The inverted reflection of the cave in the water plus the opening above forms a full moon. This phenomenon is unique and many laudatory inscriptions can be found on the wall inside the cave. Visitors can boat through the cave to the river.
Die Cai Mountain
Situated in the north-east of Guilin by the Li River, Die Cai Hill is one of the three most famous hills in the city, with Elephant Hill and Fubo Mountain. Die Cai Hill is known for its scenery and stone carvings. Because of the resemblance of its rock formations, piled up layer on layer, to folded brocade, it is also known as Folded Brocade Hill. Die Cai Mountain is a visual feast of magnificent scenes such as the Die Cai Pavilion, Wind Cave and the Cloud Catching Pavilion, along with countless stones with inscriptions created by famous Chinese scribes.
About one kilometre from Die Cai Mountain and above the western bank of the Li River, towers Fubo Hill, another of Guilin's scenic spots. Half of the hill stands in the river and the other half on land. Since the galloping water is always blocked here and eddied, the hill is considered to have the power of subduing waves. Moreover, it was on this hill that a temple in commemoration of General Fubo was built in the Tang Dynasty (618–907), which gave rise to the name Fubo Hill.
Covering an area of more than 120 hectares, Seven-Star Park is the largest comprehensive park with mass scenery in Guilin. Located at the east bank of the Li River, the park is 1.5 kilometres from downtown Guilin. The park was so named because the seven peaks (the four peaks of Putuo Mountain and three of Crescent Mountain) inside resemble the form of the big dipper constellation. The main sights contain Flower Bridge, Putuo Mountain, Seven Stars Cave, Camel Hill, Crescent Mountain, Guihai Stele Forest and Light of China Square.
With a history of over 1,400 years, Yangshuo, located in the south-east of the city of Guilin, was founded in the 10th year (590) of Kaihuang's regime in the Sui Dynasty (581–618). It is 65 kilometres by land and 83 kilometres by river from the Guilin urban area. The 63 kilometres of the Li River that runs through Yangshuo exhibits the essence of the river's scenery. Within its borders, the natural scenery features unique karst hills, crystal water, exquisite stones and intricate caves as well as a cultural historic heritage and people of diverse customs. The picture used on the back of the RMB20 bill represents the Li River near Yangshuo.
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