From Canton to Kunming via Guilin and beyond into the Autonomous Region of Xishuangbanna
This is the traditional route for visitors to southern China.
Direct flights connect Canton with a number of Chinese cities but boats and train links are also good. Hong Kong is situated only 183km/110 miles away and for many visitors to China, Canton is the gateway. Lying on the Zhujiang River it is famous for its cuisine, reputedly the best in China, for the cheerfulness of its people and for its parks and gardens. Important sights which should not be missed are the Conghua Wenquan springs and Baiyunshan.
By far the best way to get to Guilin is by plane and the flight lasts about two hours. Situated on the west bank ofthe Lijiang River, Guilin offers visitors the best scenery in China as it is surrounded by luxuriant vegetation and mountain landscape, eroded by water. Hills, caves and parks can be found throughout the town and in the surrounding area, but for the most spectacular sight a river cruise along the Lijiang is essential. Lasting between five and six hours the boat trip ends in Yangshuo. Solitary limestone mountains rise out of the green plain with their peaks sometimes hidden in mist.
A scheduled air service from Guilin serves Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. Although Kunming is located in a tropical climate it stands at an altitude of 1900m/6232ft and thus enjoys very pleasant weather, a picturesque environment and a broad ethnic mix. Yunnan province is home for 22 of China’s different minorities. 126km/78 miles south-east of Kunming one ofthe most curious natural phenomena in China can be found. The Stone Forest is a typical karst formation where limestone has eroded limestone to create a fantastic landscape of rocks, columns, towers and many other shapes.
Those independent travellers who feel impelled to see more of South-east Asia can fly from Kunming to the Autonomous Region of Xishuangbanna, which borders Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Vietnam. The variety of ethnic groups, the delightful vegetation and rich fauna including tigers and elephants make Xishuangbanna a popular destination.
The beautiful dreamlike beaches and clear seas found mainly in the south ofthe tropical island of Hainan are only an hour’s flight from Canton.