|"I often sent pictures of the hills of Guilin which I painted to friends back home, but few believed what they saw." The writer was the Song-Dynasty scholar Fan Chengda and his comments show that the scenery of Guilin has been attracting and astonishing visitors for many centuries. It has also been the inspiration for classical Chinese landscapes of fantastically shaped peaks, studded with pines and small pavilions, partly shrouded in mist.|
Here in Guilin the peaks appear everywhere you turn, dominating every skyline, parading along the river and suddenly popping up at a downtown intersection.
Diecai Shan, Folded Brocade Hill, is located in the northern section of the city. It has four peaks; at 223 m, Mingyue Feng is not only the highest one within this massif, but also in all of Guilin. The Diecai Shan mountain area is rich in valuable stone carvings and Buddhist sculptures from the Tang and Song dynasties.
The best hills for climbing are found in the north of the city. Fubo Hill rises from the banks of the river and offers superb views from its summit, while halfway up is a huge cooking pot and a bell weighing 2.5 tons. In the base of Fubo is the Returned Pearl Cave with 300 Buddhist carvings on its walls.
The Solitary Beauty Peak (Duxiu Feng) rises up in the middle of the city north of Lijiang Hotel. It presents the observer with a wonderful natural theater, a change of colors which range from golden to purple in the mist of the dawn or the glow of the setting sun. On Duxiu Feng's western slope, 306 steps lead up to Nantian Men, Southern Celestial Gate. From there, one can enjoy a wonderful view of the city and its environment.
Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) is located in the northwestern section of the city. It is 240 m deep and is probably the largest and most magnificent cave in Guilin. Ludi Cao, reed grass, grows in front of the cave and can be used to make the most wonderful flutes. This was what gave the cave its name. It used to be a favorite place for the local people to hide themselves in times of war or trouble.
Seven Star Park is one of Guilin's most important sights on the Lijiang's west bank. The seven stars symbolize the seven mountains around which the park grounds were laid out. The mountains are arranged in the order of the seven stars in the Big Dipper. The four northern mountains make up Putuo Shan, the three southern mountains from Yueya Shan. Many large caves are located on Putuo Shan. Qixing Yan, Seven Star Cave, is one of these.
The Lijiang River, which runs through the center of Guilin, is a complementary attraction to the peaks and a setting for displays of cormorant fishing.
Fishermen on bamboo rafts use strong lights suspended over the water to attract the fish. The cormorants, which are tethered with rings round the base of their necks, catch the fish and then disgorge them for the fishermen (until their work is done had the tings are removed so they can eat). These shows are regular features of the high season, or they can be arranged, along with riverboats for an evening's entertainment afloat.
Guilin Scenery appears on the following banknote(s):