Guilin is known for its spectacular landscapes of Karst topography featuring limestone protrusions that are shaped by rain and wind. The city is also famous for its unique cuisine such as chili sauce, Sanhua wine and fermented bean curd.

Whether you’re touring by boat cruise along the Li River, kayaking in Yangshuo or strolling the artisan shops of Longsheng, Guilin will leave you with many memorable experiences.

1. The Cassia Blossom

The city of Guilin is one of China’s most beautiful towns. Its spectacular scenery is a huge draw for tourists.

The karst mountains are magical, and you can cruise along the two rivers and four lakes that make up the heart of the city. The landscape is breathtaking, especially at night when the city lights up.

The best time to visit is when the Cassia blossom (Cassia javanica), also known as the Pink Shower Tree or Apple Blossom Cassia, blooms. This tropical tree sheds its leaves in the winter and erupts with yellow flowers. It’s a great ornamental plant and can withstand hotter temperatures than many other cassia trees. This flowering period lasts from spring to autumn. The foliage is light green with pinnate, alternate branches and pairs of long oval leaflets.

2. The Li River

Thousands of visitors come to Guilin every year just to see the scenery on the Li River. The 83-kilometer long waterway is embellished by vivid reflections of hills and mountains with grotesque peaks that are like fairy tales on the clear water surface.

The landscape of Guilin is known for its beauty and has inspired artists since ancient times. Described as “the best landscape under heaven” and “a picture painted by God”, the karst landscape of Guilin has become famous throughout the country and even the world.

The most famous landmark of the city is Elephant Trunk Hill, which looks just like an elephant’s trunk stretching out to drink water. Moreover, the city is home to two rivers and four lakes where tourists can take boats to cruise and enjoy the scenic landscape both day and night.

3. The Four Lakes

The karst landscape that Guilin is famous for is complemented by lakes, rivers and water villages. You can take a leisurely boat cruise round the movie set quality Wooden Dragon Lake or stroll through a village that dates back 1,000 years or more.

Many scenic spots and hills are flanked by stalls selling souvenirs such as silk shirts, scrolls, paintings and carved seals. Jiangtouzhou is one such village, a maze of atmospheric alleyways and centuries-old homes that haven’t changed much since the Ming dynasty.

The city is also famous for its fragrant sweet osmanthus trees and you can take in the beautiful scenery of ‘The Two Rivers and Four Lakes’ scenic area from the banks or on a nighttime cruise when the lakes and their features are lit up.

4. The Water Villages

Guilin is surrounded by villages that have become famous attractions to tourists, especially along the Li River. Rafting and river cruises are two popular ways to enjoy the picturesque scenery of this famous river, which is considered one of China’s most spectacular landscapes.

Xingping Ancient Town and Daxu Old Town are some of the most-recommended spots where visitors can meander through the decorated streets with historical houses and visit local markets. The local cuisine is also worth trying, such as salty eggs and osmanthus jelly or roasted suckling pig.

Solitary Beauty Peak, a karst formation that looks like an elephant dipping its trunk into a lake for a draught of water, has been impressing tourists since the Tang dynasty (7th century). It is so crazy and beautiful that it inspired poems by some of China’s greatest poets.

5. The Rice Terraces

One of China’s slightly lesser-known natural wonders, the Longji Rice Terraces can be found in the town of Longji in Longsheng Various Nationalities Autonomous County and are a major draw for hikers. The landscape is formed from a series of terraced paddy fields, which were constructed during the Yuan Dynasty and are shaped to resemble cascading steps.

The rice terraces are dotted with villages that are home to ethnic minority groups, notably Zhuang and Yao. They attract visitors to sample traditional culture, learn local customs and take in the views at sunrise or sunset.

The terraces are stunning to behold at any time of year – in spring, when they’re full of water, green with new shoots, golden in autumn and covered in snow in winter.