The Magical Mountains of Yangshuo
The world is filled with magnificent mountain ranges including the Rockies, Alps, Andes and Himalayas. No disrespect to those mighty peaks, but we’d like to shout-out to a less lofty region of the world where the ethereal limestone landscape seems right out of a fairytale or some Tolkien tome. Bucolic Yangshuo, in the Guangxi province of southern China, boasts the most unreal pointy pinnacles on the planet. These ancient karst mountains poke out of the surrounding paddies that surround the Li and Yulong rivers, making the region look like the whimsical drawing of a five-year-old child. It’s no wonder this scenery has inspired ancient Chinese poets, painters and dreamers throughout the centuries. Take a visual journey to Yangshuo and its magic mountains by watching this short video. However, nothing compares to seeing the real thing in person.
Want to know more about the mountains around Yangshuo?
The land around Yangshuo and Guilin is essentially flat, but these steep protrusions rise up in stark contrast to the flat plains of the region’s terrain. The unusual topography is a result of geological alchemy. Their origins span back 200 million years to the Triassic period, when the area was underwater.
Karst is formed when soluble bedrock dissolves. While most mountain ranges were formed by plate tectonics buckling the rocky land upwards, these limestone peaks were sculpted from the top down through receding waters and monsoon rains. The softer rock eroded more quickly, leaving hardier pinnacles to stand tall in resistance. The wind and rain scoured it into the pointy formations we see to day, leaving caves, caverns, carvings and cutouts in the midst.
The fantastical shapes have given rise to names like “Five Fingers Hill,” “Penholder Peak” and “Dragon Head Hill.” Don’t miss “Moon Hill” with the perfect peakaboo half-moon cutout carved into the middle of the mountain, providing a stunning view over the landscape.
Today, these hallowed hills are a drawing card for tourists, both international and domestic, who come to bask in the surreal majesty of the area. Yangshuo is firmly on the travelers trail, with a solid infrastructure of guesthouses, guides, tours and restaurants catering to all budgets.
Yangshuo has grown a lot over the years, but you can still escape to the countryside on foot, bicycle or bamboo raft and be immersed in the glorious wonder of nature, Chinese style.
For more information on things to see and do in this scenic area, check out Top 10 Highlights in Yangshuo, China.