Seen at sunset, the unique karst landscape of Guilin is perhaps the most magical in all of China, lent an added air of majesty when a traditional cormorant fishermen in a narrow bamboo boat comes drifting into view. Spectacular 14 mile boat trips on the Li River run from Guilin to Yangshuo, travelling through a misty maze of huge limestone sugarloaf peaks and past bamboo groves, terraced paddy fields, water buffaloes, and peasants with cone-shaped straw hats. They are scenes that have inspired generations of artists and poets, but trying to capture the haunting beauty of Guilin is easier said than done.

A short drive out of town is another magnificent natural wonder - the colourful Reed Flute Cave, a rolling canvas of extraordinary rock formations, brought to life by dramatic lighting. There are more than 70 inscriptions written in ink, some dating back to 792 and the Tang Dynasty. So named because of the reed grass found growing outside, which is used to make flutes and other musical instruments, the cave was re-discovered by refugees fleeing Japanese troops in the 1940's.

Just two hours drive north of Guilin are the spectacular rice terraces of Longsheng

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