Gudong Waterfall (古东森林瀑布 [Gǔdōng Sēn Lín Pùbù])

Guilin / Lijiang Gudong Scenic Area, Guangxi, China

About Gudong Waterfall (古东森林瀑布 [Gǔdōng Sēn Lín Pùbù])

Hiking Distance: 2km round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2009-04-20
Date last visited: 2009-04-20

Waterfall Latitude: 25.1063
Waterfall Longitude: 110.4569

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The Gudong Waterfall (古东森林瀑布) [Gǔdōng Sēn Lín Pùbù]; I think it means Old East Forest Waterfall) was really a series of waterfalls and cascades meant to be experienced firsthand by getting right in the river and getting wet while climbing it.

We saw numerous people put on water shoes as well as some climbing gear then walk in the river and up the waterfalls.

Gudong_051_04192009 - The last (uppermost) Gudong Waterfall
The last (uppermost) Gudong Waterfall

Given that the typical southern China climate tended to be hot and humid, this activity definitely provided a fun way to beat the heat.

We even noticed that some of the tiers were man-modified to support footholds as well as poles and ropes to facilitate the climbing.

Generally, we believe that most tourists who go to the world famous Guilin (桂林 [Guìlín]; Osmanthus Woods) would be on a tighter and shorter itinerary revolving around the Lijiang River (漓江 [Líjiāng]) Cruise.

Thus we’d imagine they wouldn’t bother with the Gudong Waterfall.

In fact, it sure seemed like we were probably one of the few overseas tourists in the park when we made our visit even though it was still quite busy with Chinese tourists.

Gudong_035_04192009 - People climbing up this attractive trapezoidal Gudong Waterfall
People climbing up this attractive trapezoidal Gudong Waterfall

Nonetheless, Julie and I thought this place was a worthwhile stop, especially considering that we allowed ourselves an extra day to sightsee in the Guilin area.

Contrasting the Lijiang River Cruise with the Gudong Waterfalls Experience

Given that the Li River boat cruise tended to appeal to the sense of sight, we realized that that particular tour could induce a sense of detachment from reality.

After all, the grandeur of the karst mountains in the area easily skewed our sense of perspective.

Conversely, the Gudong Waterfall excursion allowed us to stimulate more of our senses as we were able to hear the waterfalls, feel the mist, smell the vegetation, etc.

Of course, in addition to all that, we could visually see each tier of the falls and its lush surroundings.

Gudong_017_04192009 - Looking down at people climbing up one of the Gudong Waterfalls
Looking down at people climbing up one of the Gudong Waterfalls

In a way, this more immersive experience helped us put the greater scenic allure of Guilin and the Lijiang River in greater perspective than if we did what most tourists would do (i.e. just do the river cruise only).

In any case, we had lost count of how many tiers were in the waterfall series that made up the overall Gudong Waterfalls.

Most of the waterfalls were probably no more than 5m or so (maybe 10m tops).

Thus, on their own, each of the Gudong Waterfalls weren’t really anything that special.

As a result, that kind of further reinforced the notion that this place was more about getting wet than taking photos.

Experiencing the Gudong Waterfalls

Gudong_001_04192009 - An interesting sheltered bridge over a dam holding up a man-made lake on the way to the Gudong Waterfall
An interesting sheltered bridge over a dam holding up a man-made lake on the way to the Gudong Waterfall

Our visit started off by walking past an interesting sheltered bridge, which also looked like it was atop some kind of dam that created a man-made lake.

We noticed there were some people who were able to boat on the man-made lake (probably for an extra fee), which we didn’t do.

But the lake itself was fringed by lush bush scenery as well as a few pagodas here and there, and that sort of gave this place that uniquely Chinese flavor.

Beyond the man-made lake, we then passed through a busy area with restaurants and souvenir shops.

It was also in this spot that we noticed several tour groups would congregate before continuing further into the park choosing whether to go onto the walking or climbing tour (or both).

Gudong_063_04192009 - The man-made lake upstream of the bridge and downstream of the Gudong Waterfalls
The man-made lake upstream of the bridge and downstream of the Gudong Waterfalls

Then, we walked onto a well-developed concrete path weaving its way through a lush jungle area, and it didn’t take long before we reached the first Gudong Waterfall.

This particular tier ended up being one of the taller tiers that we saw.

Right away, we could see that people were climbing its steep slope (see photo at the top of this page).

We took the dry trail that climbed alongside the waterfall so we could see the falls (and its climbers) from all kinds of different angles.

Beyond this first waterfall, we then continued along the well-developed walk that passed by a series of much smaller waterfalls.

Gudong_013_04192009 - The first (lowermost) Gudong Waterfall that we encountered on our visit
The first (lowermost) Gudong Waterfall that we encountered on our visit

Some of these smaller tiers had names like “Embroidered Silk Sheet” or something about “marrying streams” as they were so named given their resemblance to whatever was being envisioned.

In many of the Gudong Waterfalls, we saw queues of climbers awaiting their turn to continue up the river as apparently these waterfalls also caused bottlenecks in the flow of climber traffic.

Amongst this series of falls, perhaps the most impressive one of the lot was a wide waterfall that fell like a trapezoidal sheet over a sloping wall.

This sloping wall appeared to have been slightly modified to include footholds and bolts to facilitate climbing.

But aside from the modifications, Julie and I gladly took plenty of photos of it, especially since we didn’t see nearly as many climbers at this waterfall compared to further downstream.

Gudong_022_04192009 - Looking down at people queueing up to climb the next Gudong Waterfall
Looking down at people queueing up to climb the next Gudong Waterfall

Beyond the trapezoidal waterfall, the developed walk continued passing by more smaller miscellaneous waterfalls.

Some of these had buildings or other types of infrastructure next to them, but eventually, the walk ended at the uppermost Gudong Waterfall.

What made this particular waterfall stand out was the presence of burning incense sticks fronting the plunge pool while a pagoda flanked the left side of the multi-tiered cascade.

This combination of burning incense and shrines with an attractive waterfall was definitely one of the more interesting juxtapositions we could remember.

In fact, Julie and I don’t think we had ever seen this combination in our waterfalling adventures so far.

Gudong_042_04192009 - Context of a series of waterfalls somewhere not too far from the shrine at the last Gudong Waterfall
Context of a series of waterfalls somewhere not too far from the shrine at the last Gudong Waterfall

Anyhow, this was our turnaround point so we chilled out and savored this last Gudong Waterfall while the burning incense invoked childhood memories.

In particular, our parents used to make us honor loved ones that have passed by holding onto the burning sticks while bowing before an altar or shrine dedicated to them.

Speaking of respect, we noticed that nobody climbed this particular waterfall so it might have been the lone waterfall in the Gudong Waterfall series where climbers couldn’t (or wouldn’t) go up.

All in all, it took us about an hour to do the whole round trip so it wasn’t a very long excursion.

But for such a relatively short time spent here, there sure were lots of waterfalls concentrated in this one place.


The Gudong Waterfall resides in the Lijiang Guanyan Scenic Area of Guilin in the Guangxi Province, China. To my knowledge, I have not found a reliable official government authority administering this area. Therefore, I can’t recommend a particular website belonging to said authority for the latest conditions or other inquiries.

Gudong_006_04192009 - Julie and our guide Linda going over a bridge on the developed walkway leading to the Gudong Waterfalls
Gudong_007_04192009 - On the forest walk as we headed to the first of the Gudong Waterfalls
Gudong_008_04192009 - Looking towards the first Gudong Waterfall
Gudong_019_04192009 - Looking upstream from the first Gudong Waterfall at climbers continuing to the next series of waterfalls
Gudong_027_04192009 - The so-called married couple waterfall in the Gudong Waterfall set
Gudong_030_04192009 - Another small, sliding cascade in the Gudong Waterfall series
Gudong_033_04192009 - A series of small sliding cascades one after another in the Gudong Waterfall series
Gudong_041_04192009 - Direct view of an attractive trapezoidal-shaped Gudong Waterfall
Gudong_045_04192009 - A small Gudong Waterfall spilling into a pretty large plunge pool
Gudong_050_04192009 - The last Gudong Waterfall flanked by a shrine and some incense
Gudong_057_04192009 - Making it back down to the first Gudong Waterfall
Gudong_062_04192009 - Finally returning to the busy entrance area of the Gudong Waterfall complex

The Gudong Waterfall is located some 30 minutes or so (probably 25km) of riding in the car south from Guilin city.

Since we did this waterfall excursion as part of an escorted tour, we can’t give specific directions as we didn’t do any of the driving.

We did realize that this place was very close to the Crown Cave (Guanyan Cave), which had a subterranean waterfall itself.

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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Looking down at the first waterfall with some people climbing up in it

A bunch of people waiting to go up the second waterfall

A picturesque wide waterfall with climbers on the left side

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Tagged with: guilin, lijiang, li river, guangxi, china, waterfall, gudong, scenic area, climbing, play

Visitor Comments:

Gudong Waterfall Question January 15, 2020 11:25 pm by Kinneret Lotem - I enjoyed reading your travel experiences. One question- how did you get to the Gudong waterfall and the Crown Jewel. Via an organized company? If so, do you need to book the trip in advance? ...Read More

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