Li River Source Grand Canyon at the Foot of the Mao'er Mountains, Guilin
About a 2 hours’ drive from Guilin is the Mao'er Mountains. Mao (猫) means cat in Chinese and this range is known as the Cat Mountain in English. The Cat Mountain is the highest in all of South China.
The name Mao'er Mountain was given to this area because its stony peak looks like a huge cat. The main peak of the mountain is about 2,141 meters above sea level and is known as the "Summit of South China". At the foot of the mountains, you find a quaint town around a canyon which is also the source of the Li River.
In recent years, only Chinese citizens have been allowed access to the peak area because it is considered sacred. However, the area at the foot of the mountain is accessible to foreigners and definitely worth a visit.
The town at the base of the mountain is considered to be a paradise and cool summer escape by locals for its spectacular waterfalls, rapids, rocky beach, green valley, and secluded streams flowing quietly through the forests. The air in the canyon is rich in anion making it a natural oxygen bar which is why many people describe the Li River Canyon as having incredibly fresh air. This area is also the home of the doll fish which is a national second-class protected animal.
4 Main Highlights of the Grand Canyon
There are more than 20 attractions in the canyon from the waterfalls of different heights to clear pools and pavilions surrounded by boulders. Check out the 4 most popular attractions below.
1. Fairies’ Pool
While there are many pools in the area, the Fairies’ Pool is one of the most famous. It is said that in this pool, the seven fairies and goddesses from ancient Chinese mythology took a bath.
This pool was also special to the local minority group, the Yao People, and they had specific customs regarding the fresh clear waters. It was believed that when Yao girls turned 16 years old, they had to clean themselves in the pond before returning to their villages to participate in a special ceremony to become a woman.
2. Green Bamboo Garden
A famous Chinese painter, Zheng Banqiao, once said, "it is better to eat without meat than to live without bamboo." Bamboo has long been an important part of Chinese culture, art, and literature.
One thing you should not miss in the Grand Canyon is the green bamboo garden. Like wandering through a sea of bamboo, you will lose yourself and realize the true meaning of life when walking in the pleasant bamboo garden.
3. Flying Waterfall
With an altitude dropping from 2000 meters to 500 meters, the Grand Canyon has a series of impressive waterfalls of various shapes and lengths. Of the waterfalls, the most amazing one to see is the Flying Waterfall which is 112.5 meters tall (370 feet).
Looking at the falls from a distance, the splashing clear waters look like dancing glitter flowing down the green mountain. It is a natural geological wonder that is beautiful no matter the seasons. During periods of high rainfall, it flows straight down like a horse galloping at full speed. When the water is low, the falls murmur like a beautiful piece of music. In winter, the water slows and freezes into different postures just like a marvelous jade carving.
4. Dragon's Pool
Connected to the Flying Waterfall, the Dragon’s Pool is the deepest in the canyon. Surrounding the pool, there are natural platforms for diving and it is a good place for swimming lovers to enjoy the cool waters and relax. If you don’t want to swim, you can also feel the coolness of the canyon’s waters while sitting beside the pool.
Best Time to Go
May to October is the best time to enjoy the crystal-clear waters at the Li River Source Canyon. Here you can swim, climb, and dive in the pool or relax on the water’s edge. If you visit before May or after October, the waters may be too cold to enjoy comfortably.
Because of rich bamboo forests, there is a 3-4℃ temperature difference between day and night. We recommend that you bring a light coat or a long-sleeve shirt to stay warm in the early morning and night.
On the days without rain, you’ll get to see the stars in the sky that cannot be seen in the city.
Cool Off this Summer with China Highlights
Summers in China can be humid and scorching hot and the best idea during this time is to head to a place with cool water and green forests. The Li River Source Grand Canyon is a local secret and is relatively untouched by foreign tourism. Travel with China Highlights and let us bring you to this summer paradise.
- 8 Amazing Things/Activities to Do in Yangshuo, Guilin
- Li River Cruise vs Bamboo Raft (An Australian Expat's View)
- Yangshuo Countryside Tours (3 Popular Ways to Explore)