Chinese tourists love to visit Guilin, the southwestern Chinese city famous for its karsts—the bizarre, mountain-like limestone formations that shoot up from the region's towns and rice paddies. Favorites of traditional Chinese painters for centuries, the karsts make for breathtaking scenery. When China goes on holiday—as it will in early May, when the whole country shuts down for a weeklong celebration of May Day—Guilin is packed with visitors taking in the sites.
There is a way to get away from the crowds, though. At the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, a charming little hotel in the countryside about 90 minutes from Guilin's airport, it's possible to escape the heat and noise of most Chinese tourist destinations, and enjoy something that is increasingly rare in the world's new economic power—quiet.