Not all the climbable hills in Guilin are surrounded by fences and require a hefty entry fee. One of the best climbs to one of the best views of the city can be found with the twin peaks of Douji Hill in Guilin's southern suburbs.
Though not too challenging a walk – fine for all but the very elderly or the very young - there's no path. Don't risk slippery rocks with a wet-weather climb or attempt it in unsuitable ankle-turning footwear. Old clothes are advised – you may do parts of the route down on your backside.
Across the main road from the railway station catch a 99 bus, (2 yuan), or a number 11, (1 yuan). Four stops later, get off at Chongxin Road. Cross the road and continue in the same direction and turn at Tong Xin Road, recognizable from the petrol station on the corner. Walk the length of the road to the river.
At the river turn left through the gates onto the traffic-free road which runs upstream to Douji Hill. This is a peaceful suburban riverside walk down a pretty part of the river rarely seen by tourists.
Near the end of the road is a shallow part of the river with structures and facilities added for the locals to use as a convenient swimming area. If you decide to take a dip, watch your clothes. Our correspondent lost his trousers here and had to walk home in his swimming costume.
At the end of the riverside road, go through the gates then take a hard right turn through the gates immediately after into a makeshift allotment area. Turn immediately left here for the start of the path up.
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In starting your ascent you're aiming for the lowest point between the two peaks. You want to head directly upward finding the path as you go, ignoring the wide, inviting track to your right which leads to ruined buildings and a dead end. They make for an interesting detour if you're in no hurry. Look around and wonder why they were built in the first place and, after all that effort, why they were knocked down again.
Once you reach the lowest point between the peaks you'll have a good view of Nanxi Park's own twin peaks next along up the river, but the scenery is better from the top so don't linger for too long. You want to head up the peak on the right, nearest the river, offering the better view and the easier climb.
As you get near the top there's one difficult obstacle, a chest-high rock you need to clamber up which proves too daunting for some. Two people make it somewhat easier, the second pushing up the first, the first pulling up the second, but be careful here! If it looks risky, wait a while. If it's a pleasant day there will be locals making their own ascent who will be more than happy to help you up.
A happy accident of nature has placed a wide, flat viewing platform at the peak's highest point from which you can have a 360° view out over the city and along the river. It's the perfect “Ooh look! There's our hotel!” vantage point.
Having scrambled your way back down the hill again you'll be relieved to know there's a short cut back to the bus stop. Instead of going back on the riverside road, follow the main path straight ahead through a housing estate and on to the Chongxin Road
You may like our Guilin Countryside and Li River Hiking Tour.