The Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is the centerpiece of any trip to northeastern Guangxi Province. Gorgeous Karst peaks give you surprises at each bend of the placid river under the blue sky. Water buffalos stand in the fields, peasants tend rice paddies, and fishermen drift along the rivr. With its breathtaking scenery and sense of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the Li River has become one of China's top tourist destinations.
The river trip is over eighty kilometers (52 miles) long and is estimated to take seven to eight hours. The beautiful landscape and country scenery will never disappoint you..
Guilin to Ox Gorge
After departing from Guilin city, we come across the Elephant Trunk Hill and Pagoda Hill. A little further downstream, two hills appear. One on the east bank is named "Chuanshan". The other is Gamecock Hill which lies across the river. It has a moon-shaped cave that resembles a pair of fighting roosters, hence the name "Rooster Fighting Hill". Further southward, Jingping Hill (Clear Vase Hill) appears in your vision - elegant and simple, like an overturned vase laying in the water..
Cruising downstream from Jingping Hill, on the banks near Daxu town, a range of hump-like peaks rises steeply- famed as the "Forest of Odd Shaped Peaks". It is a typical Karst land formation in Guilin.
At the spot where the Li River meets Liangfeng River lies Father and Son Hill. The name comes from the two human-like stones on the hill, which according to legend is a man that refused to build boats for a landlord and instead sheltered himself in a cave with his son.
South of Father and Son Hill is Millstone Hill with a dock situated 28km from Guilin and where 3,000,000 people pass through annually.
Travelling south from this dock, and passing Nine Dragons Playing the Water, the ship enters the Ox Gorge, the next highlight of the trip.
Ox Gorge to Water-Dropping Village
After passing the Ox Gorge, the water becomes calm and wide. You will see Wangfu Rock, shaped like a woman looking into the distance, with a child on her back. This stands on the west bank of the Li River as the first scenic spot in this section. Travelling south, about 29km from Guilin, is Caoping Village where the famous Crown Cave is located. Continuing south for about 10km is "Half-side Ferry". It is different from other ferries in that the ferries of these two villages are in the same side instead of opposite sides. Further south one would see a group of peaks in various shapes rising out of the river. .
About 61km from Guilin and on the east bank of the Li River lies Mural Hill. It was said that nine horses were contained in this huge painting, and anyone who can discern all of them would be the Number One Scholar..
Going downstream and turning right is Yellow Cloth Shoal, which is the best place to view reflections in the water.
Xingping town is the place where the second section basically comes to end..
Water-Dropping Village to Yangshuo
Snail Hill, with a huge vein spiraling up from the bottom to the top, is situated near Li River like a huge snail. Passing it, the boat advances toward Yangshuo, which is the termination point of this exciting cruise..
About 2 hours later, the boat nears Yangshuo. A dragon-head-shaped hill stands by the river welcoming the tourists to this town.
Yangshuo is an enchanting town, where the placid waters, verdant pinnacles and hillocks, and spectacular caverns compose a captivating tableau. Green Lotus Peak, Schoolboy Hill and Snow Lion Ridge add more charm to this beautiful town. No wonder people often say: "Guilin has the most beautiful scenery in China, and Yangshuo is the most beautiful part of Guilin."
The most suitable time to tour Li River is during the flood season, which covers the period from July to November in each year. Normally, visitors get on boats out of Guilin City in the morning and get off in Yangshuo in the afternoon. The local travel branches have prepared buses taking visitors back to Guilin from Yangshuo after the Li River cruise..