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Things to Do in Southern China - page 3

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Green Lotus Peak (Bilian Feng)

Shanshui Park, located in the southeastern part of Yangshuo along the Li River and just a short walk from West Street, is home to one of the town’s most impressive limestone karsts, Green Lotus Peak (Bilian Feng). With an elevation of 977 feet (297.8 meters) and a relative height of 611 feet (186.2 meters), Green Lotus Peak is one of 8 notable karst formations along the Li River near Yangshuo. The peak has attracted visitors for well over a thousand years and was visited by Jianzhen, a Chinese monk who helped spread Buddhism to Japan, and Cao Ye, a Chinese poet and Yangshuo native. If you’re looking for a bird’s eye view of the river, climb to the base of Standing Cliff, located about halfway up the peak. Other notable sights in Shanshui Park include the Jianzhen Memorial and Yingjiang Pavilion, where visitors can view the peak in the observation gallery.

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Li River (Li Jiang)
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The Li River’s reputation as the most beautiful in all China rests on a stretch totaling less than a quarter of its length; the 60-odd miles (100 kilometers) starting in Guilin and heading south. Here dramatic karst outcrops, dense vegetation and the clear, winding river itself create magical vistas which loom large in the Chinese imagination, having inspired art and verse for centuries.

Outside of the main cities, the painters and poets who so prized the river would find life going on here much as they remember it; water buffalo tilling terraced rice paddies, fishers angling off bamboo rafts, vendors in market towns selling the bounty of this fertile region.

The river is a year-round delight, just as stunning under blazing blue skies or wrapped in winter mists. From Guilin to Yangshuo there’s never a dull stretch, but most agree that the scenic high point comes about two-thirds the way along, at the area between the towns of Yangdi and Xingping.

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Longji Rice Terraces
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For the farmers who reside in the Longji region of Southern China the soaring rice terraces are simply a way of life. For the thousands of annual visitors who make the two-hour journey from the city of Guilin, however, the Longji rice terraces are an iconic symbol of Chinese agriculture and one of the most photographed sites in the country.

Here in Longji, layer upon layer of cultivated terraces stretch skywards on steep slopes, at some points they slope at over 50° angles. Despite the dramatic grades of the mountainside, however, traditional Chinese rice farmers have managed to sculpt the hillside into orderly terraces which annually yield massive harvests of rice. Though there really isn’t a bad season to visit the Longji rice terraces, the early summer months of May and June are popular for photographers as this is the time of year when the terraces are irrigated and cast a mirrored effect which crawls up the walls of the valleys.

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More Things to Do in Southern China

Ping’an Village

Ping’an Village

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Located in the hills northwest of Yangshuo lies an area with the beautiful name Longji, which translated into English means “the rice terraces on the backbone of a dragon.” The glittering, green fields swing their way gently up the slopes to lofty heights that are far away from the noisy tourist regions in the lower altitudes. Probably due to the climbs up the steep stairs and walkways being not that easy, the rice terraces breathe a sense of tranquility that is rare in modern China. In the midst of these rice fields lies Ping’an village, a place where time has almost stood still.

The traditional wooden houses are crowded together, as if they want to be as close as possible, and on the front steps, old women feed chickens and dogs lazily guard door ways. Although the region is well developed and houses now have water and electricity, the lifestyle is very simple and the area around Ping’an village is home to the Zhuang minority.

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Baisha Ancient Town (Baishazhen)

Baisha Ancient Town (Baishazhen)

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Baisha Ancient Town is well known in the area for being the town of fruits, due to farming so many cumquats and exporting them throughout China. This tiny, oval-shaped Asian citrus fruit closely resemble oranges and throughout the year, the village turns from a sea of green in summer to a golden orange one in November as the cumquats ripen. Not only the glowing colors of the cumquat season, but also the picturesque landscape composed of ancient bridges, the slow moving Yulong River and the tall karst mountains in the background attract photographers to this spot. As the village is located right next to the famous Yulong Bridge crossing the Yulong River, Baisha has turned into a necessary stop for any bicycle tour around the area.

Starting from beneath the bridge in Baisha Ancient Town, you can also head out on bamboo rafts to go on a lazy float down the river, or watch fishermen practice the old school fishing method using cormorants.

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Yao Mountain (Yao Shan)

Yao Mountain (Yao Shan)

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