Guilin, in North Guangxi, in the far south of China, has long been feted as one of the most beautiful areas in China, attracting poets, painters and tourists for centuries. There is a local saying “Guilin shanshui jia tian xia” which means “Guilin’s mountain and water scenery is the best under heaven”.
It is most famous for its breathtaking limestone karst hills, towering edifices which were formed more than 200 million years ago when the oceans retreated. The city is built around two rivers and four lakes with clusters of sheer karst columns bursting up from the paddy fields to create a dreamy, almost alien landscape. Indeed Guilin was chosen as the backdrop for the planet Kashyyyk in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, due to its dramatic and otherworldly beauty.
One of the best ways to take in the spectacular scenery is via the Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo where you can see their majestic profiles reflected in the water.Guilin and its surrounding mountainous area is also home to some of China’s minority peoples and cultures including the Zhuang, Yao, Miao and Dong peoples. Visitors are able to tour nearby villages to experience the colourful costumes, singing, dancing and cuisine unique to this part of China.