Day 1. Arrive in Guilin-Longsheng (D)
You will fly into Guilin (in southwestern Guangxi Province), where upon arrival you will be met by your English-speaking guide and driver. From there, we will make the approximate 2.5-hour drive to the Longsji Rice Terraces in Longsheng. The Longji Terraced fields (also known as the Devil’s Backbone), were first built in the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 AD) and completed in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 AD) by the Zhuang people. The terraced fields are built along the slope winding from the riverside up to the mountaintop. The highest place of an elevation of 885m and the lowest 380m. Longsheng town is in a densely forested area of over 2400 square kilometers. It has a population of only 160,000 people, with many of them from the Miao, Dong, and Zhuang ethnic minorities. It is surrounded by mountains in four sides and lies 100 kilometers north of Guilin, as well as in the joint area of Heping River and Sang River.
We’ll then trek a few hours to Pingan. Hiking along the large pieces of rice terraces is a fantastic experience. The scene of farming and the beautiful village scenery will feast your eyes with a pure country lifestyle. Pingan is a village made up of the minority Zhuang peoples. The town was built on the mountain slopes. It boasts rows of tall buildings separated by banyan trees. We’ll spend the night at an inn in Pingan.
Day 2: Longsheng-Guilin (B, L)
In the morning, we’ll walk about 90 minutes to reach the Longji Old Village. Being a part of the Longji Rice Terraces Area in Longsheng, Longji Old Village Cultural Terraced Fields Scenic Spot has recently been unveiled to the public. It will bring you into a wonderland of rice terrace landscapes and will give you have a better understanding of the local ethnic minority culture.
There are about 300 families with a population of over 1300 people in the Longji Old Village. The residents are mainly of the Zhuang ethnic minority. The “ganlan” style houses of Longji (the wooden house supported by the wooden pillar over water) are the best-preserved, oldest, and largest ones in China. Seven houses are more than 100 years old, and the oldest one was built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Many historic sites have been retained: the stone-made gates are standing on the east and west of the village, the Taiping water vat used for fireproofing is still serving the local people, the Longquan Fountain, carved with a dragon, is projecting water day and night.
Following our tour of the Longji Old Village, we’ll drive back to Guilin, where you will spend the night.
Day 3: Guilin (B, L)
Famous people and poets down through the centuries have eulogized Guilin’s scenery. The mountains are so sheer they come vertically out of the ground, as Guilin has some of the most spectacular karst topography in the world. The tooth-like limestone mountains come in clusters, or as isolated monoliths or mesas, often with caves, and sometimes with holes through, like Elephant Hill and Moon Hill in Yangshuo.
Today you’ll be able to experience some of the attractions that make this city so memorable. Following breakfast, at the hotel, we’ll head out to the Elephant Trunk Hill. Located at the confluence of the Li River and Peach Blossom River in the south-central area of Guilin City, it looks like a huge elephant stretching its trunk and drinking water, hence the name. Elephant Trunk Hill is the symbol of Guilin and its karst landscape.
Then it is off to the Seven Star Cave. The Cave got its name for the seven peaks supposed to resemble the star pattern of the Big Dipper constellation nearby - four peaks in the north are called Putuo Hill, three in the south are called Lunar Hill. The famous Seven Star cave is just located at the half the Putuo Hill. The cave is renowned for its stalactites of various shapes inside. The cave is divided into three parts. The upper part is so high and steep that one can hardly reach while the lower part is an underground river channel. The middle section, an 814-meter-long tunnel, with the broadest place of 49 meters and the highest of 27 meters, serves as the main touring area. Since Sui and Tang dynasties, the cave has been a favorite tour resort, and many visiting poets, writers, scholars and nobles once left their inscriptions on the wall.
Day 4: Guilin-Yangshuo (B, L)
Today you will be cruising down one of the world’s most stunning rivers, the Li. Gorgeous karst peaks give you surprises at each bend of the limpid river under the blue sky. Water buffalo patrol the fields, peasants reap rice paddies, school children and fishermen float by on bamboo rafts. With its breathtaking scenery and taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the scenery along the Li River become one of China's top tourist destinations. The cruise down the Li River offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the local population here.
The cruise will end at Yangshuo where is a lush and exotic city that includes minority groups from all over Asia. Yanghsuo is characterized by crystal clear rivers, limestone crags, lush vegetation, traditional Chinese architecture and customs, which have been immortalized in Chinese classical landscape paintings and poetry. The beautiful natural scenery so admired by painters and poets has made Yangshuo famous throughout China and internationally. Word of Yangshuo's charm has spread like wildfire among travelers worldwide, greatly boosting its popularity and made it a paradise for backpackers. After checking into your hotel, you can go down to West Street, the hip main street that features foreign pubs and bars, along with traditional shops and inns.
In the evening you will be treated to a performance of the” Impression on Sanjie Liu”. Sanjie Liu is a fairy singer in the myths and legends of the Zhuang ethnic minority. She is incomparably beautiful, and has voice to match her beauty. From these impressions, you will gain a realistic impression on the background of Sanjie's birthplace and understand the beauty of the folk songs' hometown.
Day 5: Yangshuo-Guilin (B, L)
In the morning we will float on bamboo rafts down the Yulong River (Dragon-meeting River). The languid river is surrounded by a primitive, but pure, natural landscape, along with green bamboo forests and rolling hills. Visitors to the area will delight in the picturesque scenes of simple rural life: bamboo waterwheels irrigating the paddy fields; village girls hand washing clothes outside of their cottages with smoke curling upward from the chimneys; old men fishing in the river; flocks of ducks swimming in the pond.
Next we will visit the Big Banyan Tree Park. It has survived from wind and rain over centuries since the Sui Dynasty (581-618), and is one of the main scenic attractions of Yangshuo. This tree is 7 meters (about 23 feet) in width and 17 meters (about 55.8 feet) in height, and has experienced extensive growth over the years. Although its stem is very old and its roots twist, its branches and leaves stretch out so lushly that the sunshine hardly penetrates its shadow. Sitting in its shadow on even the hottest day of the summer, you barely break out in a sweat.
We will return to Guilin tonight and end this journey.