Guilin

The 21 Best Things to Do in Guilin in 2024

Nestled in the heart of southern China, Guilin is a mesmerizing city famed for its stunning landscapes, characterized by karst mountains, lush greenery, and the meandering Li River. My journey to Guilin was a dream come true, filled with enchanting moments and unforgettable experiences.

As I explored this picturesque city, I was captivated by the breathtaking beauty of the Li River, where the tranquil waters mirrored the surrounding karst peaks like a scene from a painting. A cruise along the river offered a serene escape, allowing me to soak in the natural splendor of Guilin.

Venturing further, I discovered the ancient wonders of the Longji Rice Terraces, a marvel of ingenuity and natural beauty carved into the hillsides. The vibrant culture of the local ethnic minorities added a rich layer to my experience, as I immersed myself in their traditions and way of life.

Join me as I recount my unforgettable journey through Guilin, sharing the best things to do in this enchanting city that left me spellbound.

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🌟Guilin Travel Planning Guide

Considering a last-minute trip to Guilin?

🇨🇳 Top Activities and Tours in Guilin:

1. 1-Day Guilin Tour to Reed Flute Cave, Xianggong Hill, Bamboo Boat and Night Show
2. Mini Group: Longji Rice Terraced Fields and Minority Villages Tour
3. Private Day Tour of Yangshuo Xianggong Mountain and Yulong Bamboo Boat
4. Full/Half-day Xingping Photographic Sunset tour with the Fisherman


🏨Top Hotels in Guilin Downtown and Yangshuo:

Aroma Tea House Former Jing Guan Ming Lou Museum Hotel
Lijiang Waterfall Hotel Guilin
Riverside Inn Guilin Central
Yangshuo River View Hotel
Yangshuo Sugar House

🌐Make sure to install ExpressVPN in advance for unrestricted internet access during your stay in China!

🌏 Where is Guilin Located

Guilin is located in the southern part of China, specifically in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It sits on the west bank of the Li River, surrounded by stunning karst topography characterized by limestone hills and caves.

The city’s location in a subtropical region contributes to its lush greenery and diverse flora and fauna. The Li River, which flows through Guilin, is a major geographical feature that has shaped the city’s landscape and played a crucial role in its development.

Guilin’s stunning natural scenery has made it a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The city’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, with many visitors coming to admire its natural beauty and explore its karst landscape.

👑 Best Things to Do in Guilin Downtown

The Li River runs through the city, dividing Guilin into two parts. Most attractions are concentrated around the old town of Guilin on the west side.

Jingjiang Princes’ Palace is surrounded by the most core and oldest historical district of Guilin. Important transportation hubs such as Guilin Railway Station and Guilin North Railway Station are connected by Zhongshan Road Extension Line. Jiefang Road connects Xishan Park and Seven Star Park. Fubo Mountain in the north and Elephant Trunk Hill in the south, connected by Binjiang Road, form the best scenic walking trail in the city center.

Guilin City’s Must-Visit Attractions

Guilin City has many historical sites and natural parks, such as Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin Two Rivers & Four Lakes Scenic Area, Folded Brocade Hill, Fubo Mountain, Jingjiang Princes’ Palace, Seven Star Park, and Reed Flute Cave, all of which are worth visiting.

1. Elephant Trunk Hill (象鼻山)

Elephant Trunk Hill, located in the Elephant Hill Scenic Area (Xiangshan Park), is named for its resemblance to an elephant drinking water from the Li River. It is regarded as a symbol of Guilin’s landscape.

To see Elephant Trunk Hill, you need to enter Elephant Hill Scenic Area and find Gate 1. Then, walk to the right and climb up very steep steps to reach the mountaintop, where there is an observation platform offering a panoramic view of Elephant Trunk Hill. After that, you can descend through the elephant’s “eye.”

The Water Moon Cave between the elephant’s trunk and leg is also a must-visit spot, featuring over 50 cliff stone inscription that attract many visitors for photo opportunities.

The water around Elephant Trunk Hill is not wide but very clear and green. There are many fishermen and vendors by the river, with rows of bamboo rafts used for sightseeing tours on the river.

🎫Admission ticket: free
⏰Opening hours: 07:00-21:00
🚗How to get there: Take bus 2, 16, 23, or Sightseeing Bus 1 and get off at Xiangshan Park Station.

2. Guilin Two Rivers & Four Lakes Scenic Area (桂林两江四湖)

The Guilin Two Rivers & Four Lakes Scenic Area is a water system that runs through Guilin. The two rivers are the Li River and the Taohua River, and the four lakes are Mulong Lake, Guihu Lake, Shanhu Lake, and Ronghu Lake. There is no entrance fee to visit.

The area is particularly beautiful for night cruises when the landscape lights up. There are two main ways to enjoy the scenery: strolling along the paths by the banks or taking a boat cruise. The latter can be crowded, but it offers guided commentary, providing insights into Guilin’s Two Rivers & Four Lakes.

For those on foot, Ronghu Lake and Shanhu Lake, located in the city center, are the highlights of the night tour, taking about 1-2 hours to explore. Here, you’ll find classical Chinese garden scenes with small bridges over flowing waters, featuring iconic landmarks like the Sun & Moon Pagodas and the Crystal Bridge, along with lakeside corridors and charming ancient-style structures.

To the north of the city center, Guihu Lake and Mulong Lake offer views of the ancient Song Dynasty city wall and Dongzhen Gate. Here, you can witness traditional cormorant fishing and sail on old-fashioned sailing boats.

👉 Book Two Rivers and Four Lakes Night Tour on Trip

3. Folded Brocade Hill (叠彩山)

Folded Brocade Hill is the highest peak in Guilin City, named for its rock formations that resemble colorful folded silk brocade.

To enter the scenic area, head through the east gate and pass through a garden before ascending the mountain. You’ll reach Fengdong Cave, the iconic attraction of Folded Brocade Hill, known for its dense cliff stone inscriptions and stone statues.

Passing through the cave, you can continue uphill to reach Mingyue Peak, the highest point in the city, offering panoramic views of Guilin and the Li River.

The sunset at Folded Brocade Hill is particularly stunning. It’s recommended to visit later in the day, about two hours before sunset. The mountaintop of Xianhe Cave is the best spot to capture the sunrise in Guilin.

Notes: Cliff stone inscriptions are a form of ancient Chinese stone carving art, referring to calligraphy, sculptures, or rock paintings carved on cliffs. Originating as a way to record events in ancient times, this art form became popular during the Northern Dynasties period and continued to thrive through the Sui, Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 25
⏰Opening hours: 06:30-18:30 (Apr. to Nov.); 07:00-18:00 (Dec. to Mar.)
🚗How to get there: Take bus 1, 18, 100, or 203 to Dongzhen Rd.

4. Fubo Hill (伏波山)

Fubo Hill is unique for being partially in the river and partially on the shore, and utilizes its unique natural advantage to divert and slow down the river flow.

The main attraction is the Returned-Pearl Cave (Huanzhu Cave) at the foot of the hill, formed by the erosion of the Li River, containing over a hundred inscriptions and statues. There is also a place called Thousand Buddha Cave, which houses more than 300 cliff stone statues.

The most popular sight is the Sword-Testing Rock along the riverbank. This formation, created by the erosion of the river, features a giant rock hanging from the top of the cave, just inches above the ground, which is quite spectacular.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 22
⏰Opening hours: 06:30-19:00 (Apr. to Nov.); 07:00-18:30 (Dec. to Mar.)
🚗How to get there: Take sightseeing bus No.1 to Fubo Hill Station.

5. Jingjiang Princes’ Palace (靖江王府)

The Jingjiang Prince City Scenic Area is represented by the Solitary Beauty Peak and encompasses the entire Ming Dynasty Jingjiang Princes’ Palace.

The Jingjiang Princes’ Palace is a Ming Dynasty royal city, characterized by yellow walls and grey tiles. Most of the buildings were reconstructed during the Republic of China period, with only one carved stone staircase remaining from the Ming Dynasty.

However, apart from the exterior architecture, the interior furnishings have all been removed, and the area has been converted into a museum. Currently, a large part of the palace buildings are used as university buildings.

The rear courtyard of the Jingjiang Princes’ Palace leads to the Solitary Beauty Peak, a limestone peak that has existed for 350 million years. The path up and down the peak is relatively straight and steep, but from the top, you can have a panoramic view of Guilin city.

If you are part of a tour group, the rubbing and imperial examination experience projects are quite good, allowing you to experience firsthand how rubbings are made.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 100
⏰Opening hours: 08:30-18:00
🚗How to get there: Take bus 1, 2, 18, 22, 89, 100, 203, 206, 301 or k99 and get off at Lequn Crossing Station.

6. Reed Flute Cave (芦笛岩)

The Reed Flute Cave features a 500-meter tour route through a stunning display of stalactites, stone pillars, and rock formations formed by carbonate deposition, giving the cave the appearance of a grand underground palace.

The cave is usually crowded from the entrance to the exit, but the management of the scenic area is orderly, with visitors being released in batches for the tour, along with guided explanations.

The various shapes of the stalactites in the cave are particularly beautiful under the colorful lights. Listening to the guide’s explanations and using your imagination can be quite interesting, making you marvel at the wonders of nature. During the tour, it’s important to follow the guide closely, as the guide controls the lighting at each scenic spot, which will be turned off once you pass by.

The widest and most beautiful part of the Reed Flute Cave is the Crystal Palace, located at the deepest part of the ancient underground lake. The four hanging stalactites resemble palace lamps, shining brilliantly and nobly.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 100
⏰Opening hours: 07:30-18:00
🚗How to get there: Take city bus 3 and get off at Reed Flute Cave Station.

👉 Book Reed Flute Cave Tour on Trip or Viator

Yangshuo has many attractions worth visiting, but typically, tourists allocate about two days for exploring Yangshuo. On the first day, it is recommended to explore the center of Yangshuo, and on the second day, you can go drifting on the Yulong River or cycling in the Ten-mile Gallery.

7. Yulong River Drifting (遇龙河漂流)

Originating from Lingui County, the Yulong River is the most breathtaking landscape in Yangshuo. It is the longest tributary of the Li River in Yangshuo, stretching 43.5 kilometers.

Particularly, the 15.36-kilometer stretch from Yulong Bridge to Gongnong Bridge is 38-61 meters wide and 0.5-2 meters deep, with consistently clear water and a gentle flow. The river features 28 weirs and over 100 scenic spots.

The entire Yulong River scenic area lacks any modern buildings or artificial traces, presenting an untouched, natural, and ancient charm, making it the largest purely natural landscape area in the Guilin region.

Drifting on the Yulong River is a must-do activity for every visitor. On a good weather day, the beauty of the Yulong River is beyond words. Drifting on a bamboo raft across the calm lake surface feels like being in an ink painting, deeply immersed in its beauty.

The full Yulong River drifting route is from Jinlong (Golden Dragon) Bridge to Gongnong Bridge. The upper half: from Jinlong Bridge to Jiu County, mainly features rural scenery; the lower half: from Jiu County to Gongnong Bridge, offers views of green mountains and clear waters.

✅Notes:

① Protect your electronic devices from getting wet, as they may be splashed with water.

② Each bamboo raft can only carry two people, whether adults or children, with one person per seat. Everyone must wear a life jacket throughout the entire journey.

③ Before boarding the boat, remember to bring some cash. You can give the boatman a tip of CNY 10-20 or buy something he recommends.

④ The bamboo rafts here are propelled entirely by human power, making the ride very comfortable. If you arrive late, you might be exposed to the sun during midday, but the boatman usually provides sun umbrellas for shade.

Li River bamboo rafts are actually made of plastic pipes shaped like bamboo rafts, powered by machine, making loud noises and traveling at high speeds. They can accommodate up to 4 people and are mainly found in the Xingping area.

Yulong River bamboo rafts are made of bamboo and are propelled manually. The experience is slow and leisurely, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the scenery of Guilin. They are relatively more expensive and can accommodate 2 people per raft.

👉 Book the Yulong Bamboo Boat Tour on Viator

Yulong River Attractions

When riding a bamboo raft on the Yulong River, you can only enjoy the scenery of Guilin along the banks. If you have time, you can also choose to rent an electric bike to explore some of the deeper attractions along the Yulong River.

8. Shangri-la Park (世外桃源)

Located in the northern part of the Yulong River, about 15 km from the center of Yangshuo, Shangri-la Park is a man-made scenic area combining local pastoral landscapes.

Visitors can explore the park by water or on foot. Onshore, there are ethnic characteristic buildings such as Dong villages, Drum Hall, and Flower Hall.

Along the way, you will pass through primitive welcoming, sacrificial, and hunting scenes, and you can also enjoy various folk performances.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 60
⏰Opening hours: 08:30-16:30
🚗How to get there: From Yangshuo, you can take the Yangshuo – Guilin bus and get off at Shangri-la Park.

9. Fuli Bridge&Yulong Bridge (富里桥&遇龙桥)

These two Ming Dynasty stone bridges, each with a history of over 500 years, are iconic landmarks in Yangshuo. Fuli Bridge is the tallest single-arch stone bridge in Yangshuo, while Yulong Bridge has the widest single-arch span. In early spring, they are also famous for their rapeseed flower fields.

Fuli Bridge is the source of the Yulong River and a must-pass point for drifting on the river. Its graceful design is reflected in the water, resembling a full moon. Surrounded by green mountains, the area offers a picturesque view of the countryside.

10. Fuli Ancient Town (福利镇)

Fuli Ancient Town, an important dock along the Li River, maintains a serene ambiance devoid of commercialization. The town is home to the Mazu Temple, where Minnan merchants pay homage to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea.

Fuli Town is also known as the “Home Town of Painted Fans in China,” as the production of painted fans is a local cultural tradition. These fans unfold to reveal beautifully painted landscapes of Guilin or poems extolling the wonders of Yangshuo.

🚗How to get there: Take the Yangshuo – Fuli bus and get off at Fuli Ancient Town.


Ten-Mile Gallery Attractions

The Ten-Mile Gallery is not a single attraction but an area located around Moon Hill in Yangshuo, encompassing many scenic spots. Along the way, you’ll encounter Butterfly Spring, Gongnong Bridge, Big Banyan Tree, Moon Hill, and more. Renowned for its picturesque beauty, the area is aptly named the Ten-Mile Gallery of Yangshuo.

11. Butterfly Spring (蝴蝶泉)

Butterfly Spring is not named for actual butterflies but for a stone that resembles a butterfly. Within the scenic area lies a small karst cave with stalactites, illuminated beautifully by lights. One of the most intriguing aspects of the area is the Miao and Dong ethnic song and dance performances. There are 6-8 shows daily, each lasting around 30 minutes.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 36
⏰Opening hours: 08:00-18:00

12. Moon Hill (月亮山)

Moon Hill is a unique sight in Yangshuo, located at the end of the Ten-Mile Gallery scenic area. It is an arched mountain peak that resembles a bright moon.

At the summit of Moon Hill is a natural large stone arch, with the mountain walls on both sides only a few meters thick. The cave walls are smooth as a mirror, with many stalactites present. The shape of the cave constantly changes when viewed from different angles.

If you drive to admire Moon Hill, the shape of the stone arch will change from a crescent moon, gradually becoming a half moon, full moon, and then a waning crescent moon, which is very magical.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 12
⏰Opening hours: 08:00-17:30

13. Gongnong Bridge (工农桥)

Gongnong Bridge is the endpoint of the Yulong River drift and a highlight of the karst landscape in the Ten-Mile Gallery. The surrounding scenery is a typical representation of the Guilin region’s landscape.

Furthermore, traveling along the road to the right of the bridge leads to the banks of the Yulong River, offering an excellent route for cycling and sightseeing.


14. West Street (阳朔西街)

With a history of over 1400 years, West Street is the oldest and most bustling street in Yangshuo.

The street, less than 1km long, is paved with flagstones and has a winding S-shape. The houses on both sides are simple and elegant, in the style of the Ming and Qing dynasties of northern Guangxi. The street is lined with guesthouses, unique bars, various restaurants, and hotels, creating a diverse and vibrant architectural landscape.

The street is filled with all kinds of tourist souvenirs, and the shops on both sides blend Eastern and Western styles. Almost all the signs are bilingual in Chinese and English, and the staff can speak fluent foreign languages to serve tourists. This place attracts many foreigners, so you can see tourists of different skin colors.

When visiting West Street, you must try the famous Yangshuo Beer Fish, which is known as the best dish in Yangshuo. The various bars are the highlights of West Street, and the street becomes even livelier at nightfall than during the day.

🚗How to get there:
From Yangshuo Train Station to West Street, take the Xijie Line bus for CNY 20.
From Yangshuo Bus Station, use bus 801 or Branch Line 602.
From downtown Yangshuo, buses 604, 802, Branch Line 601, or 603 go to Xijie.

15. Guilin Romance Park (桂林千古情景区)

Guilin Romance Park, located about a 20-minute bike ride from West Street, is one of the must-visit places in Yangshuo.

Most people come to Guilin Romance Park for the “Legend of Guilin” song and dance performance, which condenses the thousand-year history and folklore of Guilin. The audience for the show is usually very large.

The performance is divided into several chapters, including “Legend of Guilin,” “Flying Songs for Mother Earth,” “Eternal Lingqu Canal,” “Love Song on Lijiang River,” and “Looking for Liu Sanjie,” with hundreds of actors performing passionately.

The three-dimensional sound effects, including valleys, hills, cool breezes, and gurgling streams, immerse the audience in the performance. The performance is not only on the stage but also occasionally in the audience seating area, above your head, and even flying over the walls, bringing the beautiful scenery of the Li River and the rich ethnic culture to the stage, leaving you mesmerized.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY 280
⏰Opening hours: 14:00-21:00 (March.6-December.31)

16. Li River (漓江)

The Li River in Guilin is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, characterized by karst limestone peaks, crystal-clear waters, and traditional villages along the banks.

A cruise along the river is a popular way to take in the stunning landscape, with highlights such as Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave, and the dramatic limestone formations that dot the riverbanks. The area is also known for its hiking and cycling trails, offering a more active way to explore the picturesque surroundings.

Bamboo Rafting on the Essence Section of the Li River is roughly divided into three docks: Yangdi Dock upstream, Nine Horses Fresco Hill Dock in the middle, and Xingping Dock downstream. Yangdi Dock and Xingping Dock can both be used as embarkation and disembarkation points, while Nine Horses Fresco Hill Dock serves as a transfer point for disembarkation.

SectionsDurationHighlights
Yangdi Dock to Xingping Dock (round trip)2 hoursEssence section of the Li River, a popular choice among tourists. Famous attractions include Langshi Landscape, Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Yellow Cloth Shoal, etc.
Yangdi Dock to Nine Horses Fresco Hill (one way)50-60 minsEconomical and cost-effective. Highlights include Langshi Landscape, Nine Horses Fresco Hill.
Xingping Dock to Nine Horses Fresco Hill (round trip)50-60 minsHighlights include Xingping Town, Yellow Cloth Shoal, Nine Horses Fresco Hill. After alighting, you can choose to walk to Xingping Ancient Town

👉 Book the Li River Cruise Tour on Viator

17. Yellow Cloth Reflection (黄布倒影)

Yellow Cloth Reflection, located near Xingping Pier, is one of the highlights of the Li River. Here, the river surface is wide, like a mirror, reflecting the green peaks, creating a breathtakingly beautiful scene.

During the dry season, the river is clear and transparent, with a greenish tint. Through the clear water, you can see a large yellowish stone slab on the riverbed, resembling a piece of new yellow cloth spread on the riverbed, hence the name “Yellow Cloth Reflection.”

You can also choose to admire the Yellow Cloth Reflection from a cruise ship. Drifting from Yangdi Pier to Xingping is the most beautiful section of the Li River drift, and at the end of the drift, you can see the Yellow Cloth Reflection.

18. Xingping Ancient Town (兴坪古镇)

After drifting through the essence of the Li River, you can arrive here. Compared to the bustling West Street, Xingping is more rustic, showing the authentic charm of Yangshuo. The town is not large, and you can explore it in about an hour.

The buildings in the ancient town are mostly two-story, with balconies and corridors on the second floor. Most of the ancient brick and tile structures are well-preserved.

Handicrafts can be seen everywhere in the ancient town, where you can buy souvenirs. There are also various types of rice wine, such as glutinous rice wine and osmanthus wine.

Xingping Ancient Town is bustling during the day, but it becomes quiet at night mainly because it is mostly inhabited by locals who still retain their original appearance.

🚗How to get there: Take the Yangshuo – Yangdi Dock bus and get off at Yangdi Dock. Then, take a bamboo raft from Yangdi Dock to Xingping Dock.

19. Laozhai Mountain (老寨山)

Laozhai Mountain, next to Xingping Town, is ideal for observing the Li River’s big bend and sunrise/sunset, attracting many photography enthusiasts to climb. However, it requires a certain level of physical fitness. Despite its low elevation of just over 200 meters, it has over a thousand steps.

From the top of the mountain, you can be awestruck by the gorgeous scenery of the Li River on both sides. The best viewing point is the chaotic stone pile near the Peace Pavilion, where you can overlook numerous towering peaks and the majestic bend of the Li River at the foot of the mountain. Tourist boats shuttle back and forth on the river, while distant mountains rise one after another.

Note: The road up the mountain is very steep and without any protection. Especially on rainy days, the mountain road is slippery and prone to accidents.

The Longji Rice Terraces, also known as the Longsheng Rice Terraces, are located in Longsheng County, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Guilin. The terraces were first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and completed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) by the Zhuang people and the Yao people.

These terraces, stretching layer upon layer like chains or ribbons, cover an area of about 66 square kilometers (25 square miles) and rise up the slopes of the mountains to an altitude of 300 to 1,100 meters (984 to 3,609 feet). The most famous sections are the Ping’an Rice Terrace and the Jinkeng Rice Terrace.

20. Jinkeng Rice Terrace (Dazhai Rice Terraces)

Jinkeng Rice Terrace (Dazhai Rice Terraces) is located in Dazhai Village and is named after the gold mines found here. Many of the iconic images and films featuring the Longji Rice Terraces are from Jinkeng.

The core area includes Dazhai Village, Zhuangjie Village, and Tiantou Village, with a cable car ride available to Golden Buddha Peak for panoramic views and sunrise/sunset photography.

There are three viewpoints – No.1 Viewpoint – West Hill Music, No.2 Viewpoint – Large-scale Thousand-layers Terraces, and No.3 Viewpoint – Golden Buddha Peak. These viewpoints create a secluded paradise away from the hustle and bustle.

Tiantou Village is a small village halfway up the mountain, surrounded by terraces and mountains, offering a panoramic view of the terraces. It is also a place for various activities and a gathering place for the Yao ethnic group.

Ping’an Zhuang Village Terraced Fields is the earliest renowned terraced field scenic spot, featuring two unique viewing platforms, Nine Dragons and Five Tigers, and Seven Stars around the Moon.

Ping’an Village, with 170 households and over 700 people, is predominantly Zhuang. The village has preserved its traditional culture quite well, known for its Zhuang costumes, long hair, and folk songs and dances.

Longji Old Village is the first village in Longji and has retained its original appearance without much development, making access somewhat inconvenient. It takes about half an hour to walk from Ping’an Village.

It boasts the largest and oldest group of Zhuang-style stilted wooden houses in Guangxi and even in China, with five houses dating back over 100 years and the oldest house being 250 years old, displaying a rich historical charm.

✅ The best time to go to Longji Rice Terraces:

The best viewing seasons are from June to October.

  • In March, the rapeseed flowers bloom, creating a golden landscape.
  • From mid-April to late June, the terraces are filled with water and newly planted seedlings, offering a variety of light and shadow effects.
  • From July to early September, the terraces are lush green, presenting a unique scenery.
  • From late September to late October, the terraces turn golden, shining brightly, and this is also the harvest season.
  • From late December to early February, the terraces are covered in snow, presenting a magnificent and beautiful scenery.

✅ Longji Rice Terraces Visiting Cost:

  • Entrance ticket: CNY 80 per person
  • Shuttle bus inside the scenic area: CNY 40 per person
  • Song and dance performance at Huangluo Yao Village: CNY 80 per person
  • Jinkeng Sightseeing Cable Car: CNY 100 per person (round trip), CNY 55 per person (one way)

✅ How to Get to Longji Rice Terraces:

Join a One-Day Tour to Longji

Recommended itinerary: Depart from Guilin to Jinkeng Dazhai, climb the Golden Buddha Peak to overlook the terraced landscapes and the charm of Longji, then return to Guilin.

Guilin to Longji Tourist Shuttle

There are two departure points for the shuttle from Guilin to Longji Rice Terraces:

  • Guilin North and West Railway Stations: CNY 65
  • Guilin South Railway Station: CNY 50

Upon arrival at the Longji Visitor Center, there will be shuttle buses to different areas included in the shuttle fee. It’s best to inform the driver in advance which village you want to go to; otherwise, you may be taken directly to the visitor center to take the cable car.

✅ Longji Rice Terraces Travel Tips:

When visiting the terraces, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • When walking in the villages to find viewpoints, there are many forks in the road, so remember to follow the stone paths.
  • If you plan to watch performances in the villages, make sure to ask if there is a fee.
  • Locals may offer to guide you or carry your backpack for a fee. This is acceptable, but be sure to agree on a price beforehand. Generally, for a 2-hour journey, the price is around CNY 10 to CNY 20.
  • Longji Rice Terrace has two main viewpoints, No. 1 and No. 2. No. 1 viewpoint is further away, located to the east of the village, while No. 2 is relatively closer.
  • Visiting two villages in one day can be tiring, and the scenery may become repetitive, leading to aesthetic fatigue. It is recommended to focus your time and energy on Jinkeng Rice Terrace in Dazhai Village, where you can enjoy the terraced landscapes and experience the local culture. The main viewpoint to visit is the Golden Buddha Peak (No. 3 viewpoint), where you can see the spectacular Large-scale Thousand-layers Terraces.

👉 Book Longshen Rice Terraces Tour Tour on Viator

Guilin rice noodles are a popular dish in Guilin, and the surrounding region. They are made from rice flour and are known for their smooth texture and delicate flavor. The noodles are typically served in a clear broth made from pork bones and served with a variety of toppings, including sliced pork, pickled bamboo shoots, peanuts, and fried soybeans.

They are often enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike and are considered a must-try when visiting Guilin.

The Li River is the main river in Guilin, known for its clear waters year-round. The famous Guilin fish from this river is prized for being fat, tender, fresh, and smooth, making it excellent for steaming, which brings out its delicious flavor.

This dish uses Guilin’s specialty, gingko nuts (baiguo), along with duck meat, sliced ham, and various other ingredients. These are placed in a stewing pot, steamed over fire, and served. The duck meat is fresh and fragrant, the gingko nuts are tender, and the soup is clear and flavorful, making it very nourishing.

One of Guilin’s signature dishes is a savory-sweet braised pork dish made with Lipu Taro, pork belly with skin, and Guilin fermented bean curd as the main ingredients. It is primarily steamed and is known for its rich flavors.

Due to the high humidity in northern Guilin, drinking oil tea has become a dietary habit among the local people, and it is also a way for them to entertain guests.

The key ingredient in Guilin Oil Tea is tea oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the tea plant. The tea oil gives the drink its rich flavor and aroma. Other ingredients typically include chopped green onions, chopped garlic, chopped fresh chili peppers, pickled radish, peanuts, dried tofu, and sometimes meat or fish.

One of the most famous local dishes in Yangshuo is the Yangshuo Beer Fish. Unlike the hotpot-style fish commonly found in Sichuan cuisine, this dish involves frying the fish first and then adding various seasonings. The cooked fish is placed in a flat pan over a small stove, resulting in a fresh, tender texture.

It is also a popular specialty dish in Yangshuo. The dish contains minimal snail meat, with the shell primarily filled with minced pork and spices, resulting in a mildly spicy flavor.

Fried Li River Shrimp is a typical dish in the Yangshuo region, made with water from the Li River in Yangshuo and Li River shrimp, along with a small amount of Guilin rice wine. Only shrimp cooked this way can be considered authentic Li River shrimp. After being stir-fried, the river shrimp have a bright red color, a crispy texture, a tender and refreshing taste, as well as a hint of the pureness of the Li River water and the sweetness of the rice wine.

🛫 How Do I Travel to Guilin

By Plane

Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) is the second largest international airport in Guangxi, with flights to and from over 20 major cities in China, including Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Kunming, Macau, Nanjing, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Tianjin, and more.

  • Airport buses: Buses run every 30 minutes from the city center to the airport, costing CNY 20, with a journey time of about 40 minutes. The final stop is the Civil Aviation Mansion.
  • Taxi: Taking a taxi from the airport to the city center costs around CNY 80.

By Train

Guilin has two main railway stations: Guilin Railway Station (South Station) and North Railway Station.

Guilin Railway Station, located south of the city center, is more accessible. It serves as a crucial hub connecting Guilin to major cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xi’an, and Nanning.

The North Station primarily operates trains on the Hengyang-Pingxiang and Guiguang railways, offering high-speed services to Guangzhou, Guiyang, and Nanning within 3 hours, as well as ordinary services to Kunming, Shanghai, Beijing, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an, and Harbin.

🚖 How to Get Around Guilin

Bus

Public buses are the most economical way to travel in Guilin City, with routes to scenic spots like Seven Star Park, Elephant Trunk Hill, and Reed Flute Cave.

Taxi/Ride-Hailing

The starting price for a taxi in Guilin is CNY 9 for up to 2 kilometers during the day and CNY 11 at night.

Bicycle

The attractions in Guilin are not far apart. Renting a bicycle for sightseeing in the city is a great option.

80% of tourists choose to arrive in Guilin first before going to Yangshuo. There are several transportation options:

  • Bus: From Guilin Bus Station, you can take a bus to Yangshuo. The journey takes about 1.5 hours, and the ticket costs CNY 30.
  • Li River Cruise: This is the preferred choice for most tourists, as it allows them to enjoy the scenery of Guilin while traveling to Yangshuo.
  • Train: If you prefer not to go to Guilin first, you can take a train directly to Yangshuo Station. After arriving at Yangshuo Railway Station, you can take a train shuttle for about 1 hour, costing CNY 20 to reach Yangshuo County. Alternatively, you can arrange for a carpool in advance, with prices generally around CNY 80.

Upon arrival in Yangshuo, many of the county’s attractions in the city area can be reached on foot.

Getting a taxi in Yangshuo is very convenient and quick. In this small city known as the “landscape of Guilin,” it’s a must-do activity to experience the Yulong River bamboo rafting, rent an electric bike for a ride along the Ten-mile Gallery, or wander through the various small villages and fields in the countryside.

☀️ Best Time to Visit Guilin

Guilin is suitable for travel throughout the year, but it can be quite cold when cold fronts hit during winter. Generally, the best time to visit Guilin is from April to September. From April to June is the rainy season, and rainy days are among the most beautiful times to enjoy the scenery of Guilin.

If you prefer sunny weather, then September, October, and November are the best months for you. It’s advisable to avoid the first week of October, which is the National Day holiday, as there are too many tourists during this period.

  • January to February: Winter in Guilin is not very cold. The Longji Rice Terraces covered in white snow offer a rare and beautiful sight.
  • March to May: Spring rains bring out the beauty of the Li River. The terraces begin to be irrigated, reflecting the blue sky and white clouds. At the same time, the rapeseed flowers in Yangshuo bloom, making it a great time for outings.
  • June to July: The tourist peak season begins. During the flood season, the Li River and Yulong River streams are gurgling, perfect for bamboo rafting, which is a classic activity.
  • August to October: Plenty of sunshine and less rain make this the golden period for outdoor activities. There are also many water activities, with moderate water temperatures and lotus flowers blooming everywhere.
  • November to December: The golden gingko leaves color the scenery. In December, there is the Fishing Lights Festival on the Li River.

🏨 Where to Stay in Guilin

As the starting point for the Li River tour, Guilin City offers a range of accommodation options, from budget hotels to high-end luxury hotels. Hotels in the city are mostly located in the city center or near transportation hubs, providing guests with easy access to local life and cuisine.

One highlight of Guilin City is the Elephant Trunk Hill and the Guilin Two Rivers & Four Lakes Scenic Area, where visitors staying in the city can enjoy a boat cruise to admire the scenic beauty of Guilin’s water city at night.

Aroma Tea House Former Jing Guan Ming Lou Museum Hotel: Located in the core Guilin Two Rivers & Four Lakes Scenic Area, the hotel offers stunning lakeside views. It features a variety of Chinese, Japanese, and landscape suites, as well as antique lake-view rooms. The courtyard is beautiful, and there is a gallery with magnificent collections. Guests can enjoy a healthy breakfast with a mix of Chinese and Western styles.

Lijiang Waterfall Hotel Guilin: The Lijiang Waterfall Hotel Guilin is the largest and most luxurious five-star hotel in Guangxi. Situated in the bustling city center of Guilin, it overlooks Shanhu Lake and the Sun & Moon Pagodas, offering spacious rooms with excellent views. The hotel’s Cantonese-style breakfast and brunch are rich in variety and served from 7:30 to 14:00.

Riverside Inn Guilin Central: The hotel is located within the Guilin Two Rivers & Four Lakes Scenic Area, overlooking the rivers and lakes, offering an elegant environment. It is very clean, extremely comfortable, and quiet, and the rooms are spacious. The staff is very friendly, many speak English, and they provide a lot of assistance, such as helping to book tours and transportation. The breakfast selection is not extensive, but the prices are very reasonable.

Yangshuo County is located downstream of the Li River and is famous for its picturesque Guilin landscape. Choosing accommodation in Yangshuo County is mainly to facilitate visits to the Yangshuo Li River bamboo rafting and Xingping cruise, which are relatively close to Yangshuo.

Accommodation options in Yangshuo are diverse, ranging from traditional guesthouses to modern resorts, catering to different types of travelers. Particularly popular are the hotels and guesthouses near West Street, which is the bustling commercial street in Yangshuo. West Street not only offers a variety of local delicacies and handmade crafts but is also a great place to experience the nightlife of Yangshuo.

Yangshuo River View Hotel: Yangshuo River View Hotel is located in a prime location in Yangshuo County, with an average annual occupancy rate of up to 80%. Facing the picturesque Li River and adjacent to the famous West Street, the hotel offers spacious and bright rooms with elegant and classical interior decoration. Each river-view room comes with a separate spacious balcony for guests to enjoy the scenery. The hotel and guesthouse also offer a variety of Chinese, Western, and local cuisine, and can provide travel itinerary suggestions according to guests’ requests.

Yangshuo Sugar House: The hotel is situated by the Li River, transformed from an old sugar factory. Retaining the industrial style of the old factory, the former sugar mill’s pressing room has been converted into the 1969 BAR, and there are also amenities such as a library, gallery, and spa, providing guests with a variety of activities. Each room either has a balcony facing nature or is equipped with a garden. The predominant grey interior is complemented by the lush greenery, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

  • Guilin has only one Liangjiang International Airport (KWL). After landing, you can take the airport shuttle bus, which costs around CNY 20.
  • There may be people soliciting rides at the train and bus stations; it’s best to avoid them.
  • Avoid taking taxis near tourist attractions, as the prices may be higher.
  • Guilin does not have a subway system; it’s recommended to use buses for traveling around the city.
  • It’s advisable to book your hotel in advance before going to Guilin. Hotel prices tend to rise during holidays, and it can be difficult to find a satisfactory hotel.
  • If you like lively places, you can stay near West Street in Yangshuo, where there are many bars and clubs.
  • Guilin has many beautiful landscapes but also many mosquitoes.
  • Many attractions require climbing, so remember to wear comfortable sports shoes.
  • When drifting on the Yulong River, some people may offer to take photos for you. It’s best to refuse to avoid being asked to pay.
  • Try to avoid riding bamboo rafts on the Li River when the water level is high for safety reasons.
  • Some shops on West Street in Yangshuo may be more expensive. Check the prices before ordering to ensure they are suitable.
  • The most authentic Guilin rice noodles are found in hidden alleyways.
  • Be cautious when buying Guilin’s specialties. It’s recommended to buy them at local supermarkets with clearly marked prices.
  • It’s recommended to visit Guilin oil tea shops, where you can taste authentic Guilin dishes.

China Travel Planning Guide&FAQ

🎫Do I need a visa for China?

Yes. Most visitors to China will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose and duration of your trip, as well as your nationality. If you are a resident of the US, you must apply for a Chinese visa at the Consular Office in the country. On the other hand, inhabitants of countries like Japan, Canada, and the UK can request a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

🤔Why is it necessary to install a VPN in China?

In China, the government has strict regulations on internet access, leading to the blocking of popular websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. To access these sites, a VPN is suggested as a means of bypassing the restrictions. It is important to choose a reputable VPN provider and use caution while doing so. ExpressVPN has been historically deemed the most reliable VPN for this purpose, despite being heavily targeted by China’s censors. Nevertheless, it is still a widely preferred option owing to its ease of installation and user-friendliness.

📲Is it necessary to have a Chinese SIM card while in China?

Yes. It is crucial to acknowledge that accessing the internet in China may pose limitations due to certain websites being prohibited or filtered. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity while staying in China, purchasing a local SIM card is advisable. For optimum results, acquiring SIM cards from either China Unicom or China Mobile is recommended. While China Mobile has the most comprehensive coverage in China and is a market leader, China Unicom is more compatible with foreign phones, enabling 3G and 4G services. Or you can purchase a SIM card online.

🔮Should I buy China travel insurance?

Yes. Although China is generally a safe country for travel, it is still possible to encounter accidents or other unexpected occurrences. Therefore, obtaining travel insurance can provide a sense of security and financial protection. In my research, I have found that World Nomads is a reputable travel insurance provider that covers a wide range of activities and is recommended for the average traveler. Nevertheless, I advise you to compare insurance quotes from various providers before making a decision.

🚙Can you rent a car in China?

Unfeasible. Obtaining a Chinese driver’s license to rent a car and self-drive may seem like an option, but it is not a practical choice for most foreigners. Therefore, many prefer to opt for a driver or public transportation when navigating China, as it proves to be more convenient.

✈️What’s the best site to purchase flight tickets for China?

I suggest using Trip for affordable flights to China. As a China-based company, they often offer lower prices compared to foreign companies. Additionally, they offer English-speaking phone support in case of any issues.

🏡What is the best way to book hotels in China?

Not only does Trip offer a wider range of flight options, but it also provides a greater selection of hotels to choose from. Moreover, Agoda is a reliable resource for hotels throughout Asia.

🎒What do I pack for China?

Travel adapter and converter: China uses a different electrical system than many other countries, so it’s important to bring a travel adapter and converter if you plan to use electronic devices such as phones, cameras, and laptops.  
Sunscreen: The UV index in China can be high, particularly during the summer months, and prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Deodorant: It should be noted that finding deodorant in China may not be a simple task.

📚Can a guidebook for traveling to China be useful?

Yes. If you’re planning to travel to China for the first time, a travel guidebook can be a valuable resource, and Lonely Planet is one of the most reputable guides available globally. Its comprehensive itineraries and recommendations take into account your personal preferences and can save you both time and money. The insider tips are also extremely helpful in navigating China’s unique cultural landscape like a local.

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