Around Guilin (Guangxi)
In Chinese painting there are scenes of fantastically shaped misty mountains - these aren't merely in the eye of the artist - you can see this landscape around Guilin. The pinnacles all have names and resemble e.g. five fingers, a fish, snail, camel or full moon. As you travel from down the Li River from Guilin, kids can come up with their own shapes and names for the limestone mountains.
Tip: To easily get to Xingping, Yangshuo and Ping'An, hire a car and driver from Guilin.
Reed Flute Cave (Guilin) - Take a walking tour through the Reed Flute Caves, formations in all shapes and sizes, and each with wonderful names such as Crystal Palace or Dragon Pagoda. The caverns are brilliantly lit in amazing red, green and blue colors, plus pristine reflections of the formations in underground pools. And kids can bring back a souvenir reed flute (the reeds grow around the cave) as a memento.
Xingping - As you make your way south along the Li River, it's well worth a visit to Xingping, an ancient village in existence for over 1500 years. In the village, kids can see stone streets and crumbly brick buildings with tiled roofs, surrounded by clumps of mountains.
Yangshuo - The scenery around Yangshuo may even be more beautiful than Guilin.
Ride a bamboo raft
- Go for a relaxing ride on a bamboo raft on the river. The skillful crewman uses a long pole to navigate the raft. Rafts hold two people, and this isn't for little kids as there are no life jackets, but it's lots of fun and a unique activity for older kids. You can find rafts on the Li River or Meeting Dragon River (tributary of the Li River).
Climb Moon Mountain
- Climb up the stone-paved path, 800+ steps up to Moon Mountain. This is an amazing formation, rocks with a doughnut hole in the center, or more appropriately, the full moon. When you get to the top, stand in front of the hole (and kids can pretend they're the jade rabbit in the moon, an old Chinese legend).
Go for a bike ride
- Rent bikes at your hotel (with or without a guide) and explore countryside around the town. Biking through emerald green rice paddies watching the farmers plowing by hand is something the kids won't forget. (It's pretty level around Yangshuo.)
Ping'An - Ping'An is village situated amidst terraced rice fields on the mountainside. Everything that goes up the village proper has to be carried or arrive on foot. Kids will enjoy the experience of exploring the rice fields, and observing life as it has been lived for centuries in China. The nickname for the terraced rice fields is "Dragon Backbone," and kids can easily imagine the fields as a slumbering dragon.
Tip: A visit to Ping'An will involve a fair amount of walking, and not a good idea for a stroller.