Guilin, Yangshuo and Xian
From the heavenly spectacle of light to spectacular karst hills and the fabulous Terracotta Army
If you want to discover more Chinese cities with unique panorama from Beijing, then I recommend a domestic flight with Air China on First Class to Guilin / Yangshuo and from there to Xian. Plan at least 6 nights for this trip.
From Beijing you fly with Air China 1.381 kilometers to Guilin. I recommend two nights at Shangri-La. From Guilin, Yangshuo is a good hour’s drive away. There you should spend at least two nights at the breathtaking Banyan Tree. Guilin and Yangshuo score with their dramatic karst landscapes! The steep rocky slopes, the famous natural wonders of the world, must be on your bucket list.
The concierge at the Shangri-La Hotel will arrange a driver for you, who will take you to the characteristic Longji Rice Terraces, 180 kilometers away from Guilin. Personally, I didn’t like the rice terraces in China as much as the ones in Indonesia. Get your own impression by checking out photos of Longji in the slideshow. (I’ll be reporting on Bali in the coming months). However, the fields around Longji village are the most beautiful and spectacular ones throughout China. The traditional wooden houses in the terraced fields are unique. You can walk up or take the gondola up.
In the evening, don’t miss the two-hour four-lake night cruise in the nature reserve around Guilin’s capital. The concierge will reserve your tickets and a driver to take you there and pick you up again. The ride just takes ten minutes. I am still fascinated by this absolutely unique night boat trip on the boat Mu Long Hu 011 and could hardly take my eyes off the illuminated twin pagodas, the sun and the moon pagoda.
During this boat trip, other buildings, wooden pavilions, bridges, trees as well as the karst mountains in the background are impressively illuminated in all kinds of colors.
This brilliant, incomparable, heavenly light spectacle is not to be withheld from your eyes or your ears. Bands play live music on the boardwalk and in the middle of the lake. To top it off, the cormorant fishermen put on a show. For centuries, the Chinese have used tame cormorants for fishing. At dusk, fishermen set out in bamboo boats with these companions. The birds wear collars to prevent them from swallowing the fish. Thanks to the lanterns attached to the boats, the fish swim alongside them. If a cormorant catches a fish, the fisherman pulls it up and retrieves the prey from the bird’s beak. At the end, the feathered helpers get a fat fish as a reward for their hard work.
After a busy day you should just enjoy Guilin today. There are several ways to spend the day relaxing at the hotel or outside: a walk along the river, a visit to the typical Chinese stores in the nearby pedestrian zone or a closer look at the local character. Don’t miss the bamboo pole dancing event or the Cuengh show at the hotel. More information about these events can be found in this blog under hotels.
With rich memories and packed suitcases, today your driver will take you to Yangshuo, 83 kilometers away from Guilin. You should end the day at the Banyan Tree before experiencing the absolutely renowned Impression Sanjie Lui Show at the Natural Theater of the Karst Hills in the evening. This spectacular open-air light show on the natural stage by the Li River with about 600 amateur actors from neighboring villages (farmers, fishermen, children and also animals) welcomes 3.200 tourists per performance every evening (before the Corona crisis, there was one performance at 7:00 pm and one at 9:00 pm). I recommend the one at 9:00 pm and above all, don’t skimp on the ticket price and have the concierge book one of the upper, air-conditioned boxes (possibly Meige 3)!
Today I suggest a trip to the Silver Cave. The colorful illumination of the sights in this cave hardly needs further description. I would never have thought it possible that the “underworld” could be so beautiful. The dazzling stalactites in this karst cave shine with a sophisticated, colorful illumination over a length of more than two kilometers. Admirable are their multi-faceted, column or tower-like as well as waterfall-like shapes.
Check out more pictures in the slideshow. Stroll through the popular Love Tunnel and listen to a Buddha chanting from one of the loudspeakers.
The person who can’t make it by himself can also be carried through the cave. The traveler who wants to experience adventure has to book the Adventure Tour. I didn’t dare to do this and only reserved two tickets for the normal tour in advance on the internet.
After this colorful sightseeing “under water”, you must definitely go “above water” for a very special private bamboo raft ride on the Yulong River, a tributary of the Li River. The most beautiful part of the karst landscape is between Yangdi and Xingping. During the Triassic period, the ocean spread in this area. After the sea level sank, it disappeared again, exposing the porous shell limestone. About 300 million years ago, a limestone landscape appeared. In the course of time this changed by erosion into today’s characteristic karst cones with their caves and grottos. You should also put on the orange-offered life jacket, because it will be adventurous.
My insider tip: When crossing the rapids with the bamboo raft, be sure to lift your feet and legs – the disposable plastic overshoes offered are of no use! Don’t pay any attention to the grim boatsman, who moves the raft with his long pole past the green karst hills and the steep karst walls. Instead, pay attention to the charming mountains, which reveal interesting animal shapes (elephant, tiger, turtle, horse…). Besides, don’t be distracted by the sideways sloshing of water over the bamboo canes, but enjoy the picture-book landscape. It is indeed a romantic landscape scenery, which silently glides past you without any engine noise.
If you want to take another river trip, you can take a motorized raft boat made of plastic pipes near the fishing village of Xingping without any rapids to view the beauties of the river and marvel at the water buffaloes grazing on the river bank.
Besides, you must visit the 20-yuan banknote viewpoint in Xingping (27 kilometers from Yangshuo). The world-famous Chinese landscape motif is immortalized on the 20-yuan banknote.
Before you leave today, on your way to the airport, you should pass by Moon Mountain, a limestone peak with a natural moon-shaped hole.
The flight from Guilin to Xian with China Air in First Class takes one hour and forty-five minutes.
You can spend the rest of the day strolling around the city itself, or winding down at the fantastic Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel Xian. For more information on this grand luxury hotel, check out the hotels section of this blog.
Today, the fabled Terracotta Army of the First Emperor in Chinese history from the Quin Dynasty must be on your sightseeing itinerary. After a hearty breakfast your private driver will take you to Quin Shi Huangdi’s tomb complex, which was discovered by chance in 1974 when local farmers found some strange, fired clay human figures and ancient bronze care tips while drilling wells. By meticulously arranging and analyzing the findings, it was confirmed that this was the pit where several clay warrior and horse figurines were buried with the First Emperor at his funeral. From this first pit, a quarter of the base has been uncovered up to the present time. The excavation and renovation works continue. The first pit, containing the main army with over 6.000 clay warriors in battle formation and the infantry with about 160 horses and 30 wooden chariots, divided into eleven parallel corridors, is 230 meters long and 62 meters wide. In 1976 the second pit was discovered and then the third and fourth. You should plan at least four hours.
Every day, aged farmers, to whose well drilling project the world owes this fantastic discovery, sign books in all languages about this army. As a blogger and writer, I was honored to present my business card in Mandarin to one of the farmers.
A unique journey is coming to an end: from Xian via Beijing to Frankfurt. But I still have one highlight for you: Terminal 3 of Beijing Airport is one of the largest buildings in the world. This gigantic steel and glass construction, which impressively combines tradition and modernity, extends over an incredible 1.3 million square meters.
Nevertheless, Terminal 3 is to small and since September 2019 – after just four years of construction – the new international airport, a mega airport with an impressive metro is now open.
Have fun in China,