Why the Reed Flute Caves Shine in Guilin China

North Asia

May 07


Visiting the Stunning Reed Flute Caves in Guilin China

It’s amazing what you can do with a little rock, water and patience.

Well, a little water, a lot of rock and all the patience in the world, I suppose.

Plenty of places talk about the caves they have but few have managed to entice me in.

Strange formations in the Reed Flute Caves in Guilin China

180 Million Years of Geology – Snazzed Up

Cave geology may be impressive but, let’s face it, caves by their very nature are dark, dank and dangerous and I’ve cracked my skull enough times to have generally lost enthusiasm.

Yet China’s Guilin province has come up with a better plan for its Reed Flute Caves.

A luxury cave plan: snazz up 180 million years of drip-drip-drip with 240 metres of illuminated walkways.

Stalactites in red. Stalagmites in blue.

Rippling water. Dripping water. Calm water.


Names that bring their countryside and culture to life through poetry: the Virgin Forest, Crystal Palace and Dragon Pagoda, to name a few.

Plus my favourite, the Mountain of Flower and Fruit.

Purple and violet cave formations in Portugal

Razzle Dazzle in the Largest Cave Network in Guilin

At the entrance, the poetry persists. Floating parasols decorate the tree tops in pops of sunshine yellow and orange among the green. Even the name joins in, with locals imagining the rock could be spirited into the air and music of reed flutes themselves.

It’s a place of slippery illusion.

And words. Scripted, swirling words that date back to the Tang Dynasty and the year seven hundred and ninety two. Words that tell us that travellers came to visit Guilin’s largest cave network well over one thousand years ago.

Today, of course, travellers come still to the place that China also calls the “Palace of the Natural Arts.”

And for once I can see why: they are surprisingly beautiful caves.


Reed Flute Caves Guilin China-2


How to Reach the Reed Flute Caves Guilin

I travelled as part of my itinerary with China Odyssey Tours – but it’s also possible to travel independently by bus. Find up to date information on reaching the Reed Flute Caves here. Updated 2018.



I visited the caves as part of the #dragonroute with  Cathay Pacific UK and travelled with China Odyssey Tours. Free to write whatever I like. As usual. As ever. As always.

When it comes to caves, lights and 180 million years of geology, words dissolve in the presence of blues, reds and slippery illusion-like greens as they spill out of the stone and onto the screen. These are the Reed Flute Caves of Guilin. - via @insidetravellab


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.

  • Pauline says:

    My dad went to China a couple years back and he came back raving about the caves of Guilin and how beautiful they were. I was all like: “Yea, okay, dad, sure”, thinking how beautiful could a cave get. And then I saw this post and realized how wrong I was! Ooohhh boy!

  • Particularly love the parasol images. They’re enchanting!

  • SAM says:

    Brilliant photographs.

    And to think that even such extremely high quality pictures like these barely serve to scratch the surface as far allowing us to experience some of the magnitude
    of the awesome spectacle that you witnessed and that you were able to capture for us is a truly humbling

    Your photographs serve to bring
    into better perspective for me the enormity and magnificence of our wonderful planet that humanity is continuing to destroy at an ever increasing and escalating rate.

    There is so much worth saving for
    ourselves and for future generations
    that you are constantly bringing to
    the attention of your readers in a most meaningful way utilizing the impressive variety of modalities that
    you have clearly mastered and honing on a daily basis.

    Many thanks,


  • cvail says:

    Love these shots! Beautiful!

  • Hogga says:


  • wshi says:

    I am planning on visiting these caves… any recommendations on how to take the best shots in the cave lighting?

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