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article imageLi River, Guilin’s scenic waterway, known as 'best under heaven' Special

By Igor I. Solar     Feb 23, 2011 in Travel
Guilin - The Li River, also known as Lijiang River, is located in southern China’s Guangxi Province. It meanders its way southeast for about 437 km, but is best known for the beautiful 83 km section running from the city of Guilin to the town of Yangshuo.
Guilin city and surrounding area are home to about 1.3 million people and each year receives about 10 million visitors from abroad and other regions of China. The name of the city means “forest of Sweet Osmanthus” because of the many fragrant Osmanthus trees that abound in the area. The plant is also known as Cassia or Chinese cinnamon and is used, among other culinary purposes, to mix with green or black tea leaves to make the fragrant guì huā tea.
Elephant Trunk Hill stands right next to the downtown area of Guilin city  at the confluence of the ...
Elephant Trunk Hill stands right next to the downtown area of Guilin city, at the confluence of the Li River and the Peach Blossom River. The legend tells of an elephant that deserted the emperor's ranks to help Guilin people plow their fields during a time of famine. The elephant used to drink at this spot of the Li River and the large rock known as Elephant Trunk Hill commemorates its heroic deeds.
Several small towns and villages can be seen on the shores of the Li River along the 83 Km trip from...
Several small towns and villages can be seen on the shores of the Li River along the 83 Km trip from Guilin to Yangshuo.
Guilin is renowned for its green mountains, clear waters and extraordinarily shaped rock formations. Most visitors to the area take a boat cruise on the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. Although the picturesque town of Yangshuo is only 63 km south of Guilin (as the crow flies), because the heavy boat traffic along the river and the gentle navigation allowing the visitors to enjoy the sights, the return trip takes all day and is one of the main tourist attractions in China.
After wandering through some of the picturesque winding alleys of Yangshuo and visiting the many shops selling all sorts of souvenirs, calligraphy scrolls and paintings, ceramics clothing and embroidered table linens, the return trip to Guilin is regularly done by bus.
Water buffalos are often seen working the fields or wandering along the river banks.
Water buffalos are often seen working the fields or wandering along the river banks.
Beautiful forested hills line the river banks. Many of the hills and rock formations are said to rep...
Beautiful forested hills line the river banks. Many of the hills and rock formations are said to represent objects and depict mythical legends.
Much imagination is needed to interpret the geological shapes; however  tour guides try hard to assi...
Much imagination is needed to interpret the geological shapes; however, tour guides try hard to assist visitors in making out the legendary turtles, fruits, horses, etc.
Guilin scenery is acclaimed by its residents, who have occupied the area since it was founded in 314 BC as a small settlement in the bank of the Li River, as the "Best under Heaven". The beautiful scenery has been inspiration to many Chinese artists who have recreated its beauty on canvas or embroidery, thus providing the city and the river with another appellative: “the birthplace of landscape Chinese art”.
The topography of the region is dotted with hundreds of magnificent limestone karst peaks and caves, and lush vegetation proper of the subtropical climate. Every bend of the river provides a new surprising display of scenery reflecting on the clear blue-green river water under the blue sky.
Fishermen on bamboo rafts use cormorants to catch the fish and bring them on the boat. When the bird...
Fishermen on bamboo rafts use cormorants to catch the fish and bring them on the boat. When the bird catches a fish, it returns to the boat, the fisherman removes the fish from its throat and places it in the basket.
The cormorant cannot swallow the fish because the fisherman ties a cord loosely around the bird s ne...
The cormorant cannot swallow the fish because the fisherman ties a cord loosely around the bird's neck. The fishermen claim that the deal is: “every 7th fish belongs to the bird”. A good diving-fishing cormorant can feed a whole family.
The heavy traffic of the tourist cruise boats is at times disturbing, however not enough to obstruct the recurrent views of typical Chinese rural life and dwellings in small riverside villages, farming with water buffalo, traditional cormorant fishing on bamboo rafts, and floating river commerce.
Children come to meet the cruise boats as they travel along the river. They ask for coins which they...
Children come to meet the cruise boats as they travel along the river. They ask for coins which they recover by diving to the bottom of the shallow river.
The beauty of the region has been recognized by the inclusion of a scene of the Li River on the back of the 20 Yuan bill, giving further credibility to the ancient Chinese saying “East or west, Guilin scenery is the best."
View of Yangshuo town at the arrival of the cruise boat from Guilin. The town has many beautiful tra...
View of Yangshuo town at the arrival of the cruise boat from Guilin. The town has many beautiful traditional buildings and lots of souvernir shops.
“The river forms a green gauze belt; the mountains are like jade hairpins.” Han Yu (768-828), a Tang dynasty poet.
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