Ironically, the most extraordinary scenery Guilin has to offer is underground, in this cave; if you see nothing else try not to miss it since the cave is a bit like a gaudily lit version of Journey to the Center of the Earth. At one time the entrance to the Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) was distinguished by clumps of reeds used by the locals to make musical instruments, and hence the name. Inside you enter a "palace of natural art" or an "abode of the immortals" (though how immortal you would remain living in a damp, dark cave…)
One grotto, the Crystal Palace of the Dragon King can comfortably hold about 1000 people, though many more crammed in here during the war when the cave was used as an air-raid shelter. The dominant feature of the cave is a great slab of white rock hanging down from a ledge like a cataract, while opposite stands a huge stalactite resembling an old scholar. The story goes that a visiting scholar wished to write a poem worthy of the cave's beauty. After a long time he had composed only two sentences lamenting his inability to find the right words, whereupon his uninspired writing career suddenly came to an end and he rather pointlessly turned to stone. The other story is that the slab is the Sea Dragon King's needle, used as a weapon by his opponent the Monkey King. The Monkey King (One of the characters in the tale Journey to the West) used 'the magic needle' to destroy the Dragons' army of snails and jellyfish, leaving their petrified remains scattered around the floor of the cave.
How to get the Reed Flute Cave?
The Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) is on the north-western outskirts of Guilin, 7km from the city center. You can take bus from the railway station which goes along Zhongshan Lu (Zhongshan Road) and then turns into the road which runs past Hidden Hill and Western Hill, then to the Reed Flute Cave. Otherwise, it's easy bicycle ride. For a free guided tour, try tagging on to one of the innumerable western tour groups.