Outside Guilin, the famous Longsheng (Dragon’s Backbone) Rice Terraces are a sight to behold. Mind you, the best time to visit is arguably in summer, when the endless hillside is a lush green, or spring when the terraces are filled with water after irrigation. Unfortunately (again) this was winter and the scenery was a fairly subdued blend of yellow and brown, against a dull depressing grey sky. (Thanks China).
A fairly long bus ride will get you to Longsheng from Guilin. Making sure we knew when the last bus would leave, we hiked the steep road up the hillside. We could have taken the cable car, but we wanted to walk instead. Though it was quite steep.
For our daytrip, we only had enough time to reach two of the main viewpoints. The Golden Buddha Viewpoint was the best and the scenery was spectacular.
The paths actually take you through some small groups of farm houses amongst the hillside. The rice terraces themselves stretch far into the distance where every contour is perfectly traced by the grassy outlines. We had seen photos of the terraces during all times of the year, where even the snow makes for an interesting experience. But regardless of when you visit, it is still breathtaking to witness anytime.
Back in Guilin, literally in the shadows of the more famous karst scenery outside, the Reed Flute Cave showcasing its own limestone scenery on the inside. Strange and exotic cave formations are illuminated in a multitude of coloured lights. In true Chinese fashion, each formation has been given a name, even though you may struggle to see any sort of resemblance. The lighting conditions do not fare well for great photos, unless you’re equipped with a decent camera.
The largest cavern, the Crystal Palace of the Dragon King has a decent light display and was used as an air-raid shelter during WWII. If you can look past the high admission price and tacky lighting, the unusual forms of the stalactites and stalagmites still steal the show.
More fancy lighting can be seen at the Sun and Moon Pagoda in town. Better appreciated during the evening where the changing light colours and reflections make for a better scene.
Visited 28th and 29th January 2014.