Elephant Trunk Hill, near the center of the internationally famed City of Guilin in southern China's Guangxi Province, is a part of the Li River jagged hills landscape that visitors from all over China and the world come to see, experience, and enjoy. It is the symbol of Guilin.
The small, cozy park has a pagoda you can climb up to to see the view of the Li River and the city. It is convenient to access also. It is about 600 meters from the giant regional and bullet train station, Guilin Station, and quite near the Guilin downtown.
Facts about Elephant Trunk Hill
- Chinese: 象鼻山 Xiàngbí Shān /sshyang-bee shan/ 'Elephant's Trunk Mountain'
- Location: about half a kilometer from the downtown area along the Li River
- Height: 200 meters (656 feet)
- Elephant Trunk Hill Scenic Area: about 400 meters by 150 meters
- Popular activities: walking to the top of the hill, rafting, photography, gazing at the views.
- Rated: 17 of 132 Things to Do in Guilin on TripAdvisor 2019
Introduction to the Elephant Trunk Hill
Elephant Trunk Hill is notable for the size of the arch, beautiful location along the Li River, and it's proximity for an convenient outdoor excursion when in the Guilin/Yangshuo area.
Elephant Trunk Hill is one of 1,000s of karst hills that cover Guangxi Province. Karst hills are made of limestone, and in the northern Guangxi area, they are noted for having weathered into beautiful shapes. Hundreds of thousands of tourists have come to the Guilin City region to see them.
Elephant Trunk Hill History
Famed in China: The arch is famed for looking like an elephant trunk drinking up the Li River. It has been a tourist destination since the Tang Dynasty (618–907).
In the past, the hill area was the abode of monks and scholars. It is said that Jianzhen, a Tang-era Buddhist monk who introduced the religion and education to Japan, lived there.
Top Highlights at Elephant Trunk Hill
Based on our own travel experience, reviews from our customers, and Tripadvisor, we have selected the following top things to do there and several attractions around the Elephant Trunk Hill for tourists to enjoy.
Climb to the Hilltop
It is Guilin's archetypal landmark. It is easy to climb up the stone steps.
It is said the Puxian Pagoda was originally built in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) era.
You can rest there and see local landmarks such as the Waterfall Hotel, Liberation Bridge, and Seven Stars Park across the Li River. Looking down, you can see the Taohua and Li Rivers. Looking down river, you can see the distinctive shape of Tunnel Hill (Chuan Shan).
We recommend climbing one of Guilin's city center hills such as this one to appreciate the extent of this small but highly-eulogized city. Guilin spreads north and south along the banks of the Li River, but east and west is enclosed by rows of pointy hills like dragon's teeth.
Boating on the Li River
Many tourists like to ride the boats and rafts in the park to sightsee the view. These are parked along the river and cost extra.
Enjoy a Scenic Urban and Nature Hike from Seven Stars Park to Elephant Trunk Hill
Rain is frequent in the early to mid summer, and we suggest that you check the Guilin weather forecast before heading off. Our travel advisors could also give you some useful suggestions.
You'll cross the Li River, see some of the best of the scenery in the city, and watch what the locals do in the river and in the pedestrian/public parks and gardens. See the full route guide and map: Guilin Walking: Seven Star Park to Elephant Hill.
Water Moon Cave
The arch under the "elephant's trunk" is called Water Moon Cave. Chinese painters have for centuries liked to sketch it on full moon nights when the moonlight dances under it, and famous poets have written many poems. It is Guilin's landmark.
Elephant's Eye Cave
Climbing the snaking stone path up the hill, visitors will see another cave called Elephant Eye Cave. With a height of around two meters, the cave is five to 10 meters in width and about 52 meters in length. The cave affords a good view of the surroundings.
The Night Show – 'The Legend of Elephant Hill'
This is a multimedia and special effects show in the evenings. The hill itself becomes the projection screen, and by computer generated video, lasers, and special lighting, you'll see highlights of the culture and scenery of Guilin played out before you.
The show is divided into four parts and has accompanying music: Primitive Guilin, Mysterious Village, Phantom Theater, and the Legend of the Elephant God. There is a laser show finale. People must pay for a separate evening ticket for the show.
Best Times to Visit and Weather
Guilin has a subtropical climate.
- April to early October is the golden time to travel to Elephant Trunk Hill. The hot, bright summer days might be too hot and humid for many people, but others love it. To avoid the heat of day, you could go there earlier, or go later in the day to catch the sun setting over the water. The evenings are comfortable. Choose September for drier weather. In October, the weather turns changeable and sometimes stormy.
- December to February is cool but dry. With warm clothes, many days are good for a visit. But the temperatures might drop to near freezing at night. It almost never snows.
Shops: Small shops offer tourist goods and souvenirs for your visit.
Cleanliness: The park is kept clean.
Gardens: Some people simply like seeing and sitting amid the gardens.
Bathrooms: They are sufficient, but bring you own toilet paper in case.
Snacks: pricey, but available.
Travel is quite convenient. The local bus stop is just outside the gate/ticket office. The huge central Guilin Station, a mixed long-distance bus/local city bus/bullet train/conventional train station, is only about 600 meters away.
Guilin station has plenty of buses to the tourist highlight town of Yangshuo. Guilin Station is a short bus/taxi ride away from Elephant Trunk Hill.
How to Go There Locally
- Location: near the center of Guilin (about 5 minutes' drive from the downtown area)
- Local bus: 2, 16, or 23, and get off at Xiangshan Park Station.
Taxis from the city center at Guilin Train Station to the hill take about 4 minutes and cost about 10 to 14 RMB (1.50 to 2.00 USD).
Walk: It would take about half an hour to walk from Guilin Station (桂林站 Guìlín Zhàn). See more about Transport in Guilin.
Private Transport Service
If you would prefer not to take public transport, then consider China Highlights. We are based in Guilin and know every nook and cranny and ins and outs. Our drivers can get you there, quickly, comfortably, and in style.
If you are planning on coming to Guilin or Yangshuo, you can contact our local travel guides easily by phone or online. We can provide free travel advice or help you arrange a trip.
Entrance and Hours
- Open: 6:30am–9:30pm (April–November); 7am–9:30pm (December–March)
- Best Time: Go there in the early morning to see the hill surrounded by mist or at night to admire the night view. The visit takes about 1 hour.
- Entry: 55 RMB (8 USD). Free for children under 1.2 meters (3.9 feet).
Good to Know
- Touring time: Walking around, going to the top of the hill, and photos would require less than an hour unless you just want to relax there.
- Overcharging for boat rides: People complain about being forced to overpay for riding boats and rafts.
- Seven Stars Park — a big park area with beautiful gardens, a small zoo and a small amusement park, and you can watch and join in with the locals doing exercises there.
- Fubo Hill — 362 steps, 213 meters, to the top. There is nice scenery near the Li River as you can see in the picture and a cave. Tourists rate it as one of the top things to do in Guilin City, and it is near the city center. You can walk to it from Guilin Train Station in less than an hour.
- Folded Brocade Hill — Deicai Hill in Chinese. It is listed as #6 Thing to Do on TripAdvisor in 2019. It is the tallest of the hills in Guilin at 220 meters or 722 feet.
- Yangshuo — a rural farm town/tourist town of about 20 to 30 thousand is a 50 minute drive from Guilin. It is the most popular attraction for the natural beauty in the area. Li River cruises embark/disembark there. Hiking, biking, rafting, swimming, and tourist shopping at West Street adds to the fun.
- Li River Cruises — are the most popular foreign tourist activity in Guilin. Lunch is served, and we could help you pick the style of cruise you'd want. Famous people such as United States Presidents have enjoyed the experience. Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor.
Our Most Popular Guilin Tours
We, China Highlights, are based in Guilin and can arrange and escort you on a wonderful tour of the region.
If you are interested in coming to Guilin/Yangshuo, please see our popular tours for inspiration:
- The Essence of Guilin: our classic 3 days Li River and Yangshuo customizable sample tour.
- Guilin Scenery and Minority Culture Discovery (4 days): Guilin, Yangshuo and the Longji Rice Terraces