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Reed Flute Cave

Guilin, China

Guilin is famous for its natural wonders, from the Li River to Elephant Trunk Hill located alongside it. Reed Flute Cave is another one of nature’s bounty bestowed upon Guilin that lies a mere 5 kms from the city center. The cave is a result of limestone erosion over centuries that carves away fascinating stalagmites and stalactites shapes, from which the locals have crafted some fine legends.

To get to Reed Flute Cave, you need only board one of the many city or sightseeing buses that have the destination on route (there is a special bus stop for the attraction). The timings are from 07:30 to 18:00 during the high season that goes from April to November and 08:00 to 17:30 from December to March. The admission fare is RMB90 for an adult, half for kids measuring 3.9 – 4.6 feet and free for kids under 3.9 feet. However, it takes no more then 3 hours to explore the entirety of the cave and its stories. Make sure to carry a light extra layer as it tends to get moist and chilly when inside. The crowds are enormous during the Spring Festival, public holidays and weekends. Photo opportunities are plenty.

Multicolored lights have been set up in the cave to enhance and dramatize the visual aesthetic of the rocky formations. These lights are considered tacky and distracting for some, who lean more towards the natural elements of the cave. Yet a large number of visitors seem to appreciate the efforts undertaken by the authorities to make their experience more magical and enriching. Nevertheless, the experience has never been labelled boring!

When looking around the cave, the first thing that comes up is the Christmas tree and snowman duo. These are two formations that vaguely resemble a snowman with his hands pocketed because of the winter, standing next to a stalagmite that is curiously like a pine tree. Very Christmas-y.
The Crystal Palace is the next stop and it is an enormous main hall with a large quantity of the random but awe-inspiring rock shapes that line the roof of the cave. The fancy light show makes for an entertaining outlook on these jutting developments.

Then there are tunnels and smaller caves that hold some interestingly named shapes like the Fish Tail Peak, Dragon Pagoda and a large spear used by a fictional character in a popular story book. There is a documentary playing in Chinese that explains the caves and their history. It is only a few minutes long and is followed by an unrelated, but fascinating still, ballet dance video that is projected over the water. Some walls even contain inscriptions, claimed to be from the Tang era, implying the cave has been an attraction for far longer than the late 1900s.

Once you’ve had your fill of the cave’s underground beauty, you will come across shops selling flutes and other souvenirs that you can bargain for. These flutes are made from the reeds outside the cave (hence the name!).

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