River Rafting and Cave Hopping
Although heavy tourism detracts from some of Guilin’s authentic charm, it still deserves its reputation as a must-see place in China. Guilin lies on the banks of the Li River, and its natural splendor is a haven from Beijing’s concrete and pollution. Cruises along the river – lined by rice paddies and mountain peaks – offer spectacular views and a relaxing experience.
Families can explore the Reed Flute Cave, located just outside of the city center, where fantastical tales accompany unusual rock formations. Guilin’s surrounding villages also present unique cuisine and a pleasant environment for kids to get to know China.
The Travelers: Australians Graeme and Linda Tinney, and their kids Sid (12), Harry (10) and Ella (7).
The Scenery: The Elephant Trunk Hill rock formation, which dips its trunk into the Li River, is a perfect backdrop to the cormorants and fishermen on the pebbled shores, and Solitary Beauty Peak offers stunning views over the city.
Going Underground: A caving trip to Moon Hill (booked through China Climb) was a bargain at only RMB 120 per person, which included transfers, a guide and equipment. The family loved meandering through the numerous caverns.
Across the River: The variety of activities offered by local agents for Yangshuo is overwhelming and includes everything from rock climbing to rafting and boat cruising on the Li River. Activities can be tailored to suit all ages.
Where to Stay: The family chose to stay at the Riverside Retreat in nearby Yangshuo (0773 882 6879).