Head to Guilin, China for some cultural lessons


  • Asia & Oceania
  • Sunday, 10 Nov 2019

The Longji Rice Terrace is popular with tourists. — Photos: YASHODA PANIRSELVAM

Guilin in south China is only about three hours away by flight from Malaysia. I decided to go there recently, after seeing how beautiful the place was in a scene from the movie I by Indian filmmaker S. Shankar.

Guilin is famous for its limestone karst, picturesque landscapes and nature. You would probably need three to four days to fully explore the destination.

A boat ride to Yangshuo from Guilin via the Li River is just one of the many things you can do here. You can choose to go on either a river cruise or a traditional bamboo raft, which ferries passengers from port to port. I went on the bamboo raft as I wanted to stop at one of the ports to take a picture of the beautiful – and famous – landscape. (It is famous as it is actually the landscape that appears on the Chinese 20 Yuan notes.)

You can spend the whole day in Yangshuo but I took the bus back to Guilin, although not before visiting a cultural village. I was offered Chinese rice wine as I entered the village, while a few ladies started singing a song to welcome me into their home.

The reader wearing a traditional tribal costume.The reader wearing a traditional tribal costume.

Apart from the river, tourists typically head to the Longji Rice Terrace too for a visit. The place offers different views at each season. For example, during winter, the rice terrace is covered in snow, making it look like a dragon.

You can also check out the Reed Flute Cave, Elephant Trunk Hill, the sun and moon pagodas and the Yao Mountain, where you can get a good panoramic view of Guilin. The cave got its name from verdant reeds growing outside it; these reeds are used to make flutes. There are stone pillars, as well as rock and carbonate formations in the cave, and the colours were just beautiful.

If you don’t have much time to explore everything, a walk along the lake is good enough too as it is relaxing and you can see many locals going about their daily business there.

Dazhai village is another cultural village worth visiting. There is a cable car service for folks who are not able to hike all the way up to this village (it is situated on a mountain).

Here you get to meet a few tribal women with seriously long hair. Apparently, these women only cut their hair once at age 16, to show that they are ready for marriage. Their cut hair is then turned into ornaments and given to family members as wedding gifts.

At the village, I also got the chance to wear a traditional tribal costume which was truly just for fun – and memorable photos!

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.


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