Skip to Content

Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin, China

Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin, China

Where the Taohua River and Lijiang River meet, on the western bank of the River Li, in Guilin, China you’ll find one of the world’s most magical places.

Among the lush forests and undulating hills in Elephant Trunk Hill Park is a hill that has captured the imagination of man for thousands of years – Elephant Hill.

Elephant Hill rises 55 meters above the Li River and then gently arches over the river like an elephant leaning into the water to drink.

At the foot of the limestone karst hill, where the rock meets the water, the elephant’s “trunk” can be seen entering the water as an arch is formed. The huge elephant leans over and Water Moon Cave is created between the “trunk” and the shore or “legs” of the creature.

Rock Formation of Elephant Trunk Hill
Elephant Trunk Hill” by Bernt Rostad is marked with CC BY 2.0.

The semi-circular Water Moon Cave has been penetrated with water over the course of centuries and the calm water flows beneath the arch forming a romantic passageway.

The cave is 17 meters long, 9.5 meters wide, and 12 meters high. On still China nights, a mesmerizing phenomenon occurs whereby the moon appears to be both under the water and floating on the surface as it is reflected beneath the elephant’s trunk in Water Moon Cave (Shuiyue Dong).

Visitors to Elephant Hill can take moonlit boat rides through Water Moon Cave and try to capture the magical moment. This beautiful sight has been described by Chinese poets and visitors to the site over the years. Within the cave over 70 inscriptions from the Tang and Song Dynasties have been found describing the beauty of the site.

Elephant Trunk Shaped Hill
The Elephant Trunk Hill” by SteFou! is marked with CC BY 2.0.

In the past, Elephant Hill has been called Li Hill, Yi Hill, and Chenshui Hill. The site dates back 3.6 million years, it is 108 meters long, 100 meters wide and 200 meters above sea level.

Elephant Hill has become the symbol of Guilin and in the nearby city, the elephant features prominently on signs, logos, and artwork.

During the day Elephant Hill is just as charming; visitors can follow stone steps to the top of the hill and get breathtaking views across the water flowing below the tree-covered hill. The two-story Puxian Pagoda is perched on the hilltop, on the Elephant’s back.

Elephant Trunk Shaped Hill and Skyline
Elephant Trunk Hill” by Bernt Rostad is marked with CC BY 2.0.

The pagoda dates back to 1368-1644 (Ming Dynasty) and from a distance resembles the handle of a sword rising 14 meters from the elephant’s back. There are two caves on the hillside which have been called the elephant’s “eyes” and from these caves, visitors enjoy panoramic views of Guilin.

Elephant Wall Art
Elephant Trunk Hill” by Bernt Rostad is marked with CC BY 2.0.

In the vicinity, visitors can also see the Yunfeng Monastery, Rooster Fighting Hill (Doujishan Hill), Pagoda Hill with its seven-story brick tower, and Aiqing Dao or Love Island.

To reach Love Island visitors cross a stone bridge with elephant carvings and once there the island has marked trails and symbols of love among the rich vegetation.

Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!