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The huge limestone mountains, called karsts, jutting out of the landscape around Yangshuo are certainly a vision; but the cave formations hidden within these natural landmarks are equally spectacular. While most of the caves offer an easy stroll past the many interesting rock formations created by thousands of years of erosion, the Water Caves offer a little something else for visitors who don’t mind getting dirty.

Yangshuo’s Longmen Water Cave served as a refuge for local villagers during the Japanese invasion of World War II, and with all the maze-like passages, nooks and crannies, it’s easy to see why. Today, boats ferry you into the cave beneath the low-hanging stalactites. After walking, climbing and sometimes crawling through the cave, you’ll be rewarded with a mud bath and a swim in the natural underground pool, complete with a waterfall.

Unlike many of the more developed caves in the area, the Water Caves are not illuminated, so you’ll have to carry a flashlight to find your way. While the cave maintains a comfortable temperature throughout the year, it’s most pleasant for swimming from April to September.

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