The Crown Cave Waterfall was an informal name I gave this unusual underground waterfall that sat deep within the recesses of the Crown Cave in the world famous Guilin (桂林 [Guìlín]; Osmanthus Woods). The first thing that struck us about this waterfall was its pretty powerful flow. We could literally hear it thunder and echo loudly for most of our time touring the cave.
The waterfall was actually more of an incidental attraction within the much more extensive Crown Cave (also referred to as Guanyan Cave) itself, even though there was a separate fee to visit this waterfall. In fact, there was a separate ticket kiosk right in front of the narrow corridor that led right to the viewing platform right in front of the loud falls (see photo at the top of this page). I don’t recall how much extra per person we had to pay for this though.
In any case, the Crown Cave was the primary attraction as it featured tall chambers of the usual stalactites and stalagmites with various random formations that tended to induce some bit of imaginative associations. We often saw signs next to the formations that resembled something we might be familiar with in real life (though I honestly didn’t remember which ones we saw since they weren’t that memorable to me). I understand that the cave was so named because its entrance resembled a crown though we couldn’t draw that conclusion ourselves.
Nonetheless, our tour of the Crown Cave started off with a brief walk along the Li River (note that we were driven here instead of doing this as part of the Li River Cruise), which was flanked by a tracks that supported a Disneyland-like Autopia ride that seemed to allow paying customers to traverse the path we walked in a go-kart type experience. Once we were at the end of the path, we took a short boat ride across part of the Li River, and then took what seemed to be an alternate entrance into the cave than what most people on tour would be taking.
Once inside the cave, we walked through parts of the cave taking in the interesting formations which were lit up by colorful artificial lighting. The lighting was customary for most caves where they would allow tourists since everything here would’ve been pitch black without it. However, the authorities here spruced things up a bit with some very colorful hues in the light which provided a bit of eye candy in addition to the visual and navigational aids to allow such a place to be visited safely by tourists.
Eventually, we got onto a subterranean train ride that was kind of in the spirit of what we might have seen in Disneyland as the tracks were kind of rollercoaster-like. Of course this wasn’t meant to be a thrill ride and it was pretty much a short excursion leading to a section of the cave where we then took a subterranean boat ride that took us even deeper into the cave (though taking non-flashed photographs here was a challenge due to the low light and constant motion). I got the sense that this was about as deep into the cave as we were allowed even though we were well aware that we saw some 3km of the cave out of the 12km that have been known so far.
When we got off the boat, the loud thunder of the Crown Cave Waterfall was very audible, and so we then took another well-established and well-lit path to get closer to the source of the noise. That was when we saw the ticket kiosk before the corridor leading closer to the falls, paid the extra fee (not included with the Crown Cave admission price), and then ended up at a lookout platform right before the short but very unusual waterfall.
Parts of the lookout were a bit misty thanks to the force of the water and the confined space. When crowds would arrive, there was practically little to no chance of taking a decent long exposure photograph or even people photographs without someone photobombing it. So we were very opportunistic about getting our shots where we could while exercising a lot of patience.
We spent probably an hour in the cave, just to give you an idea of how extensive the tour was.
The Crown Cave itself is about a 30- to 45-minute car ride from Guilin city (said to be 29km south of the city) passing by a turnoff for the Gudong Waterfall. It has been said that some Li River (漓江 [Líjiāng]) Cruises make a stop at this cave though that wasn’t the case in our particular boat tour, which we did the day after we were driven to this cave.
Geographically speaking, Guilin was a 90-minute flight from Hong Kong, 1,531km (16 hours drive or 3 hours flight) southwest of Shanghai, and 1,976km (20 hours drive or over 3 hours flight) south of Beijing.
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