Guangxi On a Budget
SightsWith a landscape cut by the winding Li River around jagged mountain scenery, Guangxi Province is most famous for its natural scenery. A cruise along the river brings visitors past displays of striking karst topography. With stark mountains, traditional villages, bamboo groves, and local farmers at work in the fields, the sights along the river are beautifully picturesque. The mountainous surroundings also make for some of the most mysterious caves, open for visitors to explore a large number of stalactites, stalagmites, and other rock formations. Reed Flute Cave is perhaps the most notable. A natural limestone cave gleaming with multicolored lights, the cave has been a popular attraction for more than a millennium.
Another natural attraction is the Detian Waterfall which crosses the boundary between China and Vietnam and joins with the Ban Gioc Waterfall in Vietnam. Other sights include Beihei Silver Beach in the south, Dragon's Backbone rice terraces in the north, and a number of interesting land formations like Elephant Trunk Hill and Moon Hill.
RegionsThe two most popular cities in Guangxi Province are Guilin and Yangshuo, both residing along the Li River. Guilin is a popular tourist destination, renowned mostly for its scenery of karst topography with unique mountains jutting out of the urban landscape. Yangshuo is well known for West Street, one of its oldest and most bustling neighborhoods. It is a place where east meets west and cultures collide to create an environment of eclectic activity from souvenir shopping by day to dining by night. The road is completely laid in marble with a simple courtyard-like setting and has opportunities to try flavors from all walks of the world.
Nanning is the Guangxi's capital as well as economic and cultural center of the region. It is a modern city with plenty attractions including the Detian Waterfall, Mt. Qingxiu and Mt. Daming, as well as the quiet Yangmei Ancient Town.
Longsheng in the north is less modern and is home to a few unique ethnic minorities that are prominent in some of the county's villages. The Yao who celebrate the mountain and the Zhuang who venerate water inhabit the regions of the hot springs and rice terraces respectively, while Miao with forest and the Dong with field also occupy quaint villages amongst the vast mountain scenery.
ActivitiesRiverside activities in Guangxi Province can occupy any adventurer with opportunities for boating, hiking, fishing, cave exploring, and more. Hiking trails along the river offer great opportunities to see the gorgeous Li River scenery and the life of riverside farmers. Nature and wildlife tours are also available for those who prefer a more guided activity.
For a taste of local culture, Yangshuo is host to the world's largest natural theater which utilizes the waters of the Li River as its stage. It is called the Sanjie Liu Sing Fair, and puts on spectacular shows against a backdrop of mist, rain, moonlight, twelve hills, and their inverted reflections in the river. The performance includes music and visuals from traditional culture of the region, with myth and legend for inspiration as well.
Food and DiningGuangxi cuisine is known for its small bites and spices, especially chili. The city of Guilin boasts Three Treasures: Guilin chili sauce, Guilin Sanhua Jiu (a liquor distilled from rice), and Guilin pickled tofu. The chili sauce is used widely in local cooking and consists of fresh chili, garlic, and fermented soybeans. Beyond the Three Treasures, Guilin rice noodles have been a local breakfast staple since the Qin Dynasty, traditionally served with horse meat, though you can have without as well. Another popular dish in the region is zongzia dumpling made from glutinous rice and mung bean paste wrapped in a bamboo or banana leaf. These dishes, characterized by a subtle sweetness and delicate use of spices, can be found in just about any city, especially Guilin and Yangshuo. A specialty of Yangshuo is beer fish, caught fresh from the Li River and prepared with a delicate sauce it is said to taste great with beer. Nanning's LaoYouFen is a spicy rice noodle soup with pork, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, and pepper. Throughout the province each town will have its specialties, though the proximity to the Li River (and the Yulong River, amongst others) makes for an abundance of fresh fish.
TransportationGuilin Liangjiang International Airport is one of the more popular airports with about 44 airlines to most large cities in China. From the airport tourists can take the airport bus to the Aviation Building Stop in the urban area, where they can find the Guilin Chief Bus Station and find a bus to most destinations in the province.
By train, the HunanGuangxi Railway and GuiyangGuangzhou High-Speed Railway are the main railways connecting Guangxi with central and southern China.