• 广西, guǎngxī

Guangxi unfolds south from the cool highlands it shares with Guizhou to a tropical border abutting Vietnam. Up in the northeast, the pick of the province’s peak-and-paddy-field landscape is concentrated along the Li River, down which you can cruise between the city of Guilin and the travellers’ haven of Yangshuo. Easily accessible, this has become a massive tourist draw, but remoter hills just a few hours north around Longji and Sanjiang are home to a mix of ethnic groups, whose architecture and way of life make for a fascinating trip up into Guizhou province, hopping between villages on public buses. Indeed, the further you get from the heavily promoted Guilin-Yangshou tourist corridor, the more places you’ll find which remain under-exploited – and more enjoyable for it.

Diagonally across Guangxi, the provincial capital Nanning provides a base for exploring Guangxi’s southwestern corner along the open border with Vietnam, heartland of China’s thirteen-million-strong Zhuang nationality. They constitute about a third of the regional population and, although largely assimilated into Chinese life today, archeological evidence links them with Bronze Age rock friezes west of Nanning at Ningming. Nearby are a couple other major draws: the Detian Waterfall, which actually pours over the Vietnamese border, and the massive limestone sinkholes at Leye.

Though subject to fiercely hot, humid summers, Guangxi’s weather can be deceptive – it actually snows in Guilin about once every ten years. Another thing of note is that the Zhuang language, instead of using pinyin, follows its own method of rendering Chinese characters into Roman text, so you’ll see some unusual spelling on signs – “Minzu Dadao”, for example, becomes “Minzcuzdadau”.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

Even 20 years ago China was not a conventional tourist destination. Despite the allure of its beautiful landscapes and history-filled cities, politics, poverty,…

13 Jan 2017 • Simon Frank insert_drive_file Article
The roof of the world: a first-timer's guide to Tibet

The roof of the world: a first-timer's guide to Tibet

The ‘roof of the world’ has exerted a magnetic pull over travellers and adventurers for centuries. This vast, high altitude desert has spawned myths and leg…

10 Nov 2016 • Stuart Butler insert_drive_file Article
Video: 10 Taiwanese street foods you need to try

Video: 10 Taiwanese street foods you need to try

Street food in Taiwan has a charm that restaurants just can't match. There's a distinct pleasure to be found in wandering through the labyrinthine stalls glo…

24 Oct 2016 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month