Guilin - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Guilin


Guilin is a small city in southern China when compared to bustling metropolises like Beijing or Shanghai, but it is one of the country's most visited. It's name means 'forest of Sweet Osmanthus' due to the large number of Osmanthus trees in the area. The distinctive limestone karst hills provide a dramatic backdrop for the city of 1.3 million people, making it a favourite destination for avid photographers.

The hills were formed in tectonic shifts about 200 million years ago, and limestone sediments thrust up from the sea to form the unusual hills, caves, and stone forests which are so distinctive of Guilin.

Guilin's two major lakes, Banyan Lake (Rong Hu) and Cedar Lake (Shan Hu) offer scenic boat trips to view the hills, along with pagodas, bridges and centuries-old banyan trees. They are connected via waterway to other lakes in Guilin as well. Another popular boat tour goes along the Li River to the town of Yangshuo.

Guilin is a tourist-oriented city, with all the amenities you'd expect from one, including comprehensive public transport, local and western restaurants, and overpriced souvenirs. The city is popular with local tourists as well, in part because of the clean air.

Information & Facts

The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.

The currency used in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). The Yuan is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments, but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce outside the main cities.

Local time is GMT +8.

This hill, on the banks of the Li River, has a large natural arch cut into it that is said to resemble an elephant drinking water. The opening of the arch is called Water Moon Cave because the reflection of the moon at night appears as though it is both in and out of the water. Often used as a symbol of the city, the arch is a popular photo spot in Guilin. At the top of the hill is a two-story pagoda built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), meant to resemble a vase on the elephant's back when viewed from afar. Trees planted by the city block the view of the arch from across the river, so the only way to get to it is through Elephant Trunk Hill.

This limestone cave, about 3 miles (5km) outside of Guilin, has impressive rock formations that resemble everything from lions and monkeys to the skyline of Guilin itself. Guides will take you on an hour-long tour through the cave and point out various formations, and inscriptions on the wall that date back to the Tang dynasty. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the cave, and be prepared to wait for more people if you are in a group of less than 20.

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