Guilin is known as the city of rice farmers, spreading out in the midst of an impressive landscape full of steep mountain peaks on both sides of the Li River. The highest of these bizarre rock formations is Yao Mountain at over 900 meters. Here, only 12 kilometers outside of the city center, you can find a quiet mountain landscape and panoramic views over the hundreds of hills, rice fields and the charming rural villages outside of Guilin. Although there is a cable car ferrying people up and down Yao Mountain, there are also numerous hiking trails leading up and around the tall peak. A long cart slide offers a fun alternative for the way down, which leads through many twists and turns down much of the densely forested side of the mountain.
Most visitors come here to see the diverse flora of Southern China, which is beautiful throughout the year and changes constantly. Each season offers completely different views, with spring being especially popular due to the rosy, blooming azaleas. During the summer months, the pine trees and bamboo take over and cover the landscape in a vibrant blue-green, while during fall, the maple leaves turn a deep red and wild chrysanthemum flowers add vibrant dots of color to the landscape. But don’t miss out on a trip up the mountain in winter either, when mists swirl around the peaks and everything is dusted in a layer of snow and frost.
Yao Mountain is also a popular burial ground, something that is attributed to its good Feng Shui. The peak was named after the Yaoshan Emperor Temple, which can be found about halfway up the mountain, but there are also the Tombs of the Jingjiang Princes, one of the most famous attractions in the area, with over 300 tombs spread out over 100 square kilometers.
Yao Mountain is located about 12 kilometers east of the city center. To get there, take bus number 24 to the Prince Jingjiang stop, from where it’s a five-minute walk to the entrance. The cable car operates between 8:30am and 6pm.