Guilin has always been a popular tourist destination in China since it was developed for tourism after 1949. Most Chinese people know about Guilin from studying their textbooks during lessons.
These books tend to proclaim that “Guilin’s scenery is the most beautiful under heaven“, and rightly so. Surrounded by rivers, lakes, and karst mountains, Guilin’s breathtaking natural landscape is very charming and famous. With a perfect blend of modern buildings and local culture, colorful Guilin is like a real-life traditional Chinese painting waiting for you to explore it.
Where Guilin Is Located
Located in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in South China, it’s about 500 kilometers northwest of Hong Kong. It’s always the last destination for foreign travelers — for example, a popular visiting route is Beijing–Xi’an–Shanghai–Chengdu–Guilin.
Features of Guilin
- Picturesque karst landscape. How charming is Guilin’s scenery? One example proves just how beautiful it is: it is celebrated on the back of China’s 20 yuan bill.
- Discover the authentic rural Chinese lifestyle. Thanks to the imperfect city construction, you can still experience the most authentic countryside lifestyle in Guilin. When you visit Yangshuo, pay more attention to both sides of the road to witness the vivid, peaceful and idyllic lifestyle of the locals.
- A paradise for photography lovers. Since a photograph taken in Guilin won a bronze prize in an international photography exhibition, Guilin has welcomed travelers and photography lovers from all corners of the world.
- Convenient for foreigners. As one of the most popular destinations in China, Guilin has a high percentage of English-speaking locals. Fewer language barriers and the 72-hour visa-free transit policy make Guilin more convenient for worldwide travelers.
Top Sights in Guilin
Guilin is clean and modern. Spend several nights there to enjoy a peaceful vacation. Which parts of Guilin should you visit in 3 days? Below, we have detailed some popular and famous attractions you mustn’t miss.
1. The Li River — the Soul of Guilin
Rivers and mountains are the key highlights of Guilin while the Li River is the most classic river in the city. Most of the famous sights are located near the Li River. Taking a cruise or bamboo raft trip on the river and enjoying the beautiful views that surround you is an essential experience when you’re in Guilin.
- For more details about the Li River, read: The Li River — Highlights and Travel Tips.
2. Xianggong Mountain — Stunning Panoramic Views of Yangshuo
Guilin’s scenery is fascinating while Yangshuo’s landscape is the best in Guilin. How can you explore this beautiful and small county? Perhaps hiking to the top of Xianggong Mountain and seeing a panoramic view of Yangshuo is the best way. The view is spectacular: clouds surround the tops of hills while the Li River runs alongside them silently.
- For more details about Xianggong Mountain, read: Xianggong Mountain — a Bird’s-Eye View of Yangshuo.
3. The Longji Rice Terraces — Paddy Fields and the Minority Atmosphere
Combining breathtaking natural scenery and the local minority cultures, the Longji Rice Terraces are another popular sight in Guilin. Drive for about 3 hours from Guilin’s city center to witness one of the most majestic sets of rice terraces in China.
April to June is the best time of year to see the fields filled with water. The fields look like a large mirror that reflects the trees, blue sky, the locals’ wooden houses, and flying birds. Spend 1 or 2 days there, hiking to the top of the rice terraces and enjoying the unforgettable view at sunset.
- For more details about the Longji Rice Terraces, read: The Longji Rice Terraces — Breathtaking Scenery and Travel Tips.
4. Reed Flute Cave — the Representative View of a Karst Landscape
This special karst landscape is the most featured symbol of Guilin. As well as seeing various shapes of karst hills, you can also get close to the unique karst landscape by visiting Reed Flute Cave. Having been hidden in Guilin for over 1,000 years, Reed Flute Cave is like a colorful dream for travelers.
- For more details about Reed Flute Cave, read: Reed Flute Cave — a Thousand-Year-Old Colorful Dream
Guilin Liangjiang International Airport
- Location: about 28 kilometers from Guilin’s city center
- Airlines: About 50 airlines operate at this airport, including those used for domestic flights as well as international airlines.
- Airport shuttle bus: between the airport and the Civil Aviation Mansion, it costs 20 yuan from 6:30am to 8pm
- 72-hour visa-free transit: Without getting a visa, citizens from 51 countries can visit Guilin for 3 days.
- Read more information about the visa-free policy: How to Travel to China Without a Visa — Three Ways to Make Your China Trip Easier.
- Guilin train stations: Guilin Station (Guilin South Railway Station) and Guilin North Railway Station
- Trains: You can travel to Guilin on a normal-speed train or a high-speed train from almost every city in China.
- Note: Buy your ticket(s) in advance to ensure availability.
- Bus: This is the most convenient form of transport to travel anywhere within Guilin and Yangshuo.
It costs 2 yuan for a single trip in Guilin.
- Yangshuo: Take a bus at Guilin Bus Station (near Guilin South Railway Station) at a cost of about 30 yuan.
- The Longji Rice Terraces: Take a bus at Qintan Bus Station.
- Taxi: It’s convenient to take a taxi in the city of Guilin. During the daytime, it costs 9 yuan for the first 2 kilometers and then 1.9 yuan per extra kilometer. During the nighttime, it costs 11 yuan for the first 2 kilometers and then 2 yuan per extra kilometer.
Best Seasons to Visit
Guilin is a subtropical monsoon zone with four distinct seasons and high humidity. The best season for traveling there is from April to October; however, June will be rainy while July and August will be very crowded. Therefore, it’s best to go to Guilin from April to May and September to October.
Special Local Food
Guilin has various delicious and special local foods that you can’t eat in other cities. Influenced by nearby provinces, such as Canton, Sichuan, and Zhejiang, Guilin cuisine is a little spicy. The most famous local foods include Guilin rice noodles, steamed Li River mandarin fish, Yangshuo beer fish, and Lipu braised pork.
Where to Buy Souvenirs
If you want to hang out at a local market during the nighttime, we recommend two places: Zhengyang Street in Guilin’s city center and West Street in Yangshuo. There are various local handicrafts, small shops, and souvenirs at these markets. Remember to bargain with the sellers.
- Show: Don’t miss the opportunity to watch Impression Liu Sanjie in Yangshuo. It’s a classic live performance that is not only an art show but is also a feast for the eyes due to the natural landscape that forms the show’s backdrop.
- Bars: Go to Zhengyang Street, Binjiang Street, and West Street in Yangshuo.
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