If you venture to southern China, you’ll be rewarded with traditional villages, lush tropical landscapes, green rice terraces and beautiful coastlines.
Guilin is one of its top draws, thanks to its stunning scenery of dramatic limestone cliffs, their peaks imaginatively named by poets over the centuries – this area has long been a magnet for artists and writers, and it’s easy to see why. The peaks rise above traditional villages, farmers tilling the rice paddies with water buffaloes and fishermen fishing off bamboo rafts in the Li River, which winds through the hills. This is the quintessential Chinese landscape immortalised in art and literature, such as beautiful scroll paintings. Trees sprout from the rock, with caves and grottoes laced inside.
Riverboats make their way through the scenic waterways between Guilin and Yangshuo, and you can hike or bike in the countryside and around the mountain peaks, and explore the caves and hilltop pagodas, as well as the winding streets of the historic town.
Around two hours from Guilin are the Longji or Longsheng rice terraces. Known as ‘the dragon’s backbone’ and set on steep slopes dotted with ancient villages, they are another potent symbol of China and a must-see.