Throughout the world, there are many majestic natural wonders; however, few are as dramatic and beautiful as the karst mountains surrounding the Li River near Guilin, China. Rising hundreds of meters above the surrounding countryside, the myriad of karst mountains compels you to crane your neck skyward.
While Guilin in the closest large city to the mountains, most travelers make a beeline to Yangshou. Unfortunately, while the town is beautiful, it is quite overrun by tourists. For a more relaxing time, head to Xingping, up the river between Yangshou and Guilin.
Xingping is a pleasant town, with a beautifully unrestored old town, and has been gifted with some of the best views in China. Many tourists come by boat during the day, but the mornings and evenings are refreshingly quiet and give you a great chance to see local life.
The star attraction of Xingping sits just outside of town; the 20 Yuan Spot, as it’s called, is where the photo from the back of the 20 Yuan Chinese bill was taken. While this is certainly a beautiful spot, for me, the best views were a little higher.
Next to the ferry landing dock and sitting 1,159 steps up a karst peak sits Bird’s View Pavillion. From the top, 220 meters above the river below, is a commanding view of the local area. Standing on top of the peak, you are surrounded by karst mountain peaks for as far as the eye can see. It is truly a stunning view.