The highway from Guilin turns southward at and after a couple of kilometers crosses the Jinbao River. South of this river and just to the west of the highway is a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole penetrating the hill, hence the name Moon Hill. It is one of the most visited attractions in Yangshuo.
With an elevation of 380 meters (1,247 ft.), the hill is 230 meters (755 ft.) in relative height and 410 meters (1,345 ft.) in length.
A strange geological formation at the top is a massive arch with a hole in its peak through which the sky can be seen like a full moon, hence the name. The tunnel is about 50 meters (164 ft.) in height and width that looks like a bright moon when the night falls. Moon Hill is also known as "Bright Moon Peak".
Why is Moon Hill the symbol, so to say, of Yangshuo? The rock is part of a larger series of strange shaped rock formations but this is the only one with a hole in it shaped sort of like a half-moon.
It is popular to rent a bike in town and then ride out for a pleasant morning ride up the hill. You can ride your bicycle through smaller villages to get to Moon Hill. There are several routes that you can take to get to Moon Hill. Moon Hill is easy to reach as it is close to the main road. When you get a bicycle, take the road south out of Yangshuo. Moon Hill is usually at least a half day's sightseeing adventure. There is an entrance fee of 20 Yuan, and includes a guarded parking space for your bicycle.
If you do not have the energy for a bike ride, you can hire a motorized rickshaw to take you there. You need to negotiate the price with the driver of the rickshaw. The price will depend on the length of time you want to have access to the rickshaw. Motorbikes can also be rented in town. Make sure you first negotiate the price. First you cross the Yulong River Bridge, near the Big Banyan Tree. A few hundred meters further on you will see Moon Hill on your right.
Natives from Moon Hill Village at the hill’s foot offer drinks and attractive souvenirs while the small village is itself a charming sight.
The original tourist route is called, "To Moon Hill the local way". This ride is nice but it is now crowded with locals selling postcards and tacky souvenirs. Some dress as local farmers while some of them are local farmers but most are just people from town trying to make an additional income. They can be very persuasive. They are just posing to try to get you to take a photo for which they will want money. Some locals put colored ribbons on their water buffalo horns to also try to get you to take photos for money.
Usually it is quieter in the earlier morning or late afternoon. The views are sometimes a bit hazy at those times but that gives this place the feeling of a bit of mystery.
Along the 'Appreciating Moon Path', you will have the different perspectives to appreciate the wonder, with the change of the viewports as you ascend. The cave will take on a different look of "full-moon", "half-moon" or "crescent moon". This ride is a bit longer but there are no people trying to sell you anything on the way. This ride will give you a glimpse of the rural lifestyle. You can also have lunch at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat which is situated on the Yulong River and has stunning views.
There are several other ways to reach Moon Hill, all go through the local paddy fields but end up in front of Moon Hill on the main road. It seems that all roads and paths sooner or later lead you to Moon Hill. There are few rocks as symbolic as Moon Hill itself.
You can walk up to the hole in the rock and have some good views over the surrounding karst mountains. After climbing about 800 marble steps, you will arrive at Moon Cave which is full of stalactites of various shapes, some like Buddha warrior attendants, some like jade rabbits, and some like the goddess of the moon.
The stairs were completed in 1981, giving easy access to those who want to get a close view of the cave. The path is not difficult. In a slow walk it takes about 30 to 40 minutes. On sunny days you can see the melodious elegant blue sky with white clouds. On rainy days you can see the mist rise from the valley. When you look around, you get the whole view of the surrounding area, the mountains, the rivers, the fields, and the peasant houses, all of which make it quite a panoramic picture.
There are lots of bizarre stalactites in dazzling shapes that hang from the ceiling of the cave. Two of them resemble WuGang and Jade Rabbit of an old Chinese legend. The cave itself is reminiscent of the Moon Palace of traditional Chinese legends.
A series of caves have been opened up not far from Moon Hill: the Black Buddha Cave, New Water Caves and Dragon Cave. If you head out to Moon Hill, you will undoubtedly be intercepted and invited to visit these other caves. The villages’ people will always be pleased to see you and will give you a great welcome.
If you really want an adventure you can hike up further beyond the marble steps along a natural, winding, and sometimes steep path to the very top of the arch. On the top of the arch it feels as if you are on top of the world. The view here shows clearly how the limestone mountains seem to grow out of the flat lands. It's a very beautiful sight and for sure worth a visit.
A cool breeze blows refreshing tired climbers. The view from the top is magnificent and definitely worthy of the trip. It’s a photographer’s paradise with "gumdrop" mountains, snaking rivers, green fields, and village houses stretching out to meet the horizon in all directions.
Yangshuo, Moon Hill is also a famous rock climbing area, with 14 rock-climbing routes on the northwest side. If you are a participant or spectator of rock climbing, Moon Hill will be more meaningful to you.
If there is a specific symbol of Yangshuo to be named, it is for sure Moon Hill. Some locals will tell you: "If you visit Yangshuo and you have not been to this strange shaped hole in the rocks, you haven't seen the scenery of Guilin and Yangshuo". True or not, I leave that to you, but Moon Hill is worth a visit.