Southwestern China has long been enjoyed by visitors, both Chinese and foreign, due to the unique landscapes, diverse cultures, and historical charm. Here, you can ride bamboo rafts along tranquil rivers through vertical peaks of karst mountains, visit endless rice terraces as far as the eye can see, trek through untouched mountainous wilderness, and meet diverse Chinese ethnic groups. Southwestern China is often a favorite with visitors, and it will likely be with you as well.
The Guilin area in the Guangxi Province is one of the most visited in China, and once you see it, you will understand why. Guilin, and the nearby town of Yangshuo, are surrounded by a series of vertical peaks that seem to jut out of the ground randomly. Amongst these peaks are small towns, farms, rivers and streams, caves, and a mood-setting fog that creates a picturesque scene that no painter or photographer will be able to escape.
Just north of Guilin lies the rice terraces of Longsheng and its surrounding towns. Here, the locals have turned the sloped hills into beautiful rice terraces the likes of which no one else can recreate. Hiking trails from village to village will allow you to take in the majesty of various terraces with names like "the dragon's backbone" while sleeping and dining with the locals.
The Yunnan province, in the far southwest, is known for its wild landscape and ethnic minority groups. Use the large city of Kunming as a transportation hub to visit Dali and Lijiang, home of the Naxi people. These cities are not just cultural, but also historical. The architecture of these towns are unique and picturesque. Then head up to Tiger Leaping Gorge for a multi-day trek through a steep canyon containing agricultural villages and majestic views. And don't forget, Shangri-la awaitsâ¦.
Distances in the Southwest seem to get stretched out due to the rugged geography and late arrival of the convenient transportation infrastructure found in the eastern part of China. It may be best to fly, especially if you wish to venture over to the Yunnan and beyond (use Kunming as a hub).
Flights, trains, and buses connect Guilin quite frequently and easily to major cities in the east, as well as Guangzhou to the south. Kunming is a bit harder to reach via train, so flights may be the best way unless you want to get a feel of the land over the course of several days on a train or bus.
Kunming connects north to Dali and Lijiang by bus or train, or south towards Vietnam, too. (Train service here is periodically under construction or out of service, so research it before your trip.)
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