Yueliang Shan (Moon Hill)

Yangshuo, China

If you have heard of Elephant Hill in Guilin and appreciate its natural rock formation and iconic status, the Moon Hill, a similar icon for Yangshuo, will be a perfect 2-hour detour for you. What used to be a cave ages ago, has withered away to leave behind a hill with a round shape in its center, resembling the moon. And when you are ascending towards the hilltop, the ‘moon’ will wax and wane as the hill behind eclipses and falls out of view of Moon Hill.

Placed about 8 kms from the town of Yangshuo, buses going from Yangshuo to Gaotian will drop off tourists at Moon Hill Village, at the base of the famous hill. Alternatively, a bike ride from Yangshuo will take an hour and provide more opportunities to appreciate the abundant beauty of the hills and river. The entry fee is a nominal RMB11 and the timings are from 08:00 to 17:30. Carry snacks and water bottles, though vendors are available on the route. Early summer and autumn are ideal times to visit as the sun isn’t too intense and the weather is clear. The way up is paved with stairs, but they make for an easy climb.

When you are in the Yangshuo area and have some time to spare, you can plan your hike to the top of Moon Hill. If you have cycled there, you will have to store your bikes safely before you can go up. The way to the top has steps, which have recently had railings installed, making it much safer. This path is known as the Moon-appreciation path and is an easy climb with favorable mild weather adding to the charm. You get nice views even as you are on the steps, of the surrounding karst hills and abundant greenery and with regards the Moon Hill itself, different phases of the moon can be witnessed.

At the end of the 800 steps, the Moon Palace is right in front of you and many feel awed by the natural roundness of such a gigantic structure. At a whopping 50 meters in diameter, the hole even has some stalactites hanging from the top of its smooth surface. There is dense foliage around the area but that isn’t going to bother you much when you catch a glimpse of what else is on offer. Beyond the hill, there is a magnificent sight of karst landscape and the river from a bird’s eye perspective. It is here, where the best selfies will take birth of your trip to Moon Hill. Or if you are adventurous, you can venture the rough unpaved ground and climb the hill all the way to the top for views that will outdo even this one.

Once you’ve had your share of the vistas, you can start an easy descent, the same way you came up. To re-invigorate yourself after all that excitement, try the café at the base which has English speaking staff and some quality indigenous food.

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