Elephant Trunk Hill

Explore an intriguing waterfront rock formation with a fascinating legend and then hike up the hill for panoramic views of Guilin.

Guilin’s iconic Elephant Trunk Hill, at the center of the park of the same name, is a rock arch that resembles an elephant drinking from a river. Spend a few hours exploring the scenic park, with its Ming Dynasty pagoda, colorful sculptures and serene atmosphere.

Take a ride on a rustic bamboo boat on the Li River and glide under what would be the elephant’s trunk. This arch is also known as the Water Moon Cave because when the moon is full its watery reflection appears to be trapped, floating inside the cave. Colored lights illuminate Li River in the evenings, so a wonderful time for a boat ride is after sunset. A daylight visit reveals fascinating historical inscriptions on the cave walls which date back to the 7th century. Many are poetic musings on the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Understand something of what those writers were enthusing about when you hike up the tree-covered Elephant Trunk Hill. The steep ascent is rewarded with panoramic views of Guilin. Atop the hill is the 46-feet (14-meter) tall Puxian Pagoda. It was built during the Ming Dynasty, some time between the late 14th century and the middle of the 17th century.

The pagoda resembles the handle of a sword, stuck in the elephant’s back. One legend about the pagoda says the Emperor of Heaven became enraged when he saw that his celestial elephant preferred the company of humans. He threw his sword into the animal, which turned it into stone.

Elephant sculptures are everywhere in the park. Stone elephants wallow in the water along the banks of the river and the stone bridge to the bamboo-covered Love Island (Aiqing Dao) features carvings of elephants. During your walk through the grounds, you will also come across marble sculptures of lovers and abstract figures between the flowering trees.

Situated in the south of the city, Elephant Trunk Hill Park is reached by several bus routes. The attraction is open from early morning until late evening year-round and there is an admission fee.

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