Welcome to Guilin
Guilin is a top tourist destination known for its stunning landscapes and unique ethnic cultures.
The Li River and karst mountains are the main attractions, along with cormorant fishermen and the Longji Rice Terraces. Guilin is often regarded as having the most beautiful landscape in the world.
Guilin vs Yangshuo
Yangshuo, located about an hour's drive from Guilin, is one of Guilin's 12 counties and is known as the tourist hub of the area. Most of Guilin's beautiful spots can be found in Yangshuo, including the stunning Yulong River and its picturesque countryside, photogenic mountains, and cormorant fishermen in Xingping. There are also opportunities for outdoor adventures such as rock climbing and countryside cycling.
While Guilin is worth spending a day or half a day exploring, the city's charming lakes make for a relaxing night walk. If you plan on taking a Li River cruise, it's necessary to stay overnight in Guilin upon arrival as the cruise ships depart from there.
The Li River
National Geographic lists it as one of the "top 10 watery wonders". The most popular way to enjoy Li River's scenery is by cruising from Guilin to Yangshuo, while motorized rafting in Xingping is also great. The river is lined with thousands of karst mountains, perfect for photography.
Longji Terraced Fields & Minority Tribes
Located just a two-hour drive from Guilin, Longji is among the top destinations in China to witness terraced fields surrounded by minority villages. Longji boasts over five villages, with Ping An and Dazhai being the most visited. The best times to visit are spring (March to June) when the fields are fully irrigated, and autumn (October) when the rice turns golden.
Just a 40-minute drive from downtown Yangshuo, this attraction requires an 800-step climb to the hilltop. Once there, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Li River, karst mountains, and villages. This spot is highly popular for sunrise and landscape photography, making for an unforgettable experience.
Cormorant Fishermen in Xingping
The Xingping section of the Li River is famous for its stunning mountain peaks and cormorant fishing. The old cormorant fishermen have become a popular subject for photographers worldwide, lighting up gas lamps at dusk while holding cormorants on their shoulders. This creates picturesque photos against the distant mountain backdrop.
Yulong River Scenic Area
The Yulong River is Yangshuo's main river, and many lovely boutique hotels line its banks, with some run by westerners. During the day, visitors can enjoy bamboo raft rides and scenic views of mountains, rice fields, and villages. They can also stop at riverside hotels for a refreshing cup of coffee or tea.
Located just a 30-minute drive from Yangshuo and a 20-minute hike to the mountaintop, this destination has gained immense popularity in recent years. The area's unique karst peak mountains, village rivers, and ideal sunset photography angles attract photographers from all over the world.
This new tourist destination is gaining popularity among visitors and photographers. It's a one-hour drive from Guilin with a 20-minute climb to the top viewpoint. The flat fields with hundreds of fish ponds resemble a broken glass or mirror, while the colorful local roofs add to the dreamlike scenery. The east and west sides of the viewpoint offer different landscapes.
Reed Flute Cave
The Guilin and Yangshuo regions boast many caves due to their karst landforms. The renowned Reed Flute Cave is located close to Guilin downtown and is a popular tourist spot. Visitors spend an hour exploring the cave and admiring the colorful illuminated stalactites.
The Best Time to Visit Guilin
Guilin experiences a long rainy season that typically spans from December through May. The ideal time for travel is from May to October.
If you're interested in landscape photography, the period between March and May provides excellent opportunities to capture misty mountain scenes in both the Li River and Karst mountain areas, as well as the Longji rice terraces.
July and August are peak season due to summer holidays.
Drone Photography Restrictions
Flying your drone is generally permitted in many areas of Guilin, including popular tourist spots such as the Li River and karst mountain areas in Yangshuo, and the Longji Terraced Fields scenic area and minority village. However, there may be some unclear restrictions in parts of Guilin's downtown area, so it's best to avoid flying your drone there, even if you see other Chinese people doing so.
To ensure that you stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and restrictions on drone usage in Guilin, it's a good idea to check for updates regularly.
Stay at Amazing Places
Guilin offers a variety of boutique hotels with stunning views, and we've highlighted some foreigners-friendly options with English-speaking staff and western standard facilities:
- Misty Wonderland (画山云舍)： This hotel is situated near the Xianggong Hill photography spot and boasts a location on the top of a valley facing the karst mountains, providing guests with a peaceful countryside experience.
- Yangshuo Mountain Retreat (胜地酒店): Located by the Yulong River, guests can enjoy watching rafting from their room windows and have tea or coffee by the river.
- Moon Dance (云舞酒店)：Surrounded by beautiful countryside scenery, this hotel offers guests a chance to stay and play in a village setting.
- Longji Tianjiange Hotel (田间阁)：This hotel is built on the top side of the view point of the Longji Rice Terraces in Ping An Village and is just a two-minute walk to the view point.
Travel Guilin with Confidence
If you're searching for trusted travel companies or guides based in Guilin, here are some recommendations:
- China Highlights: With over 20 years of experience in the industry, China Highlights is a leading online travel company that specializes in tailor-made tours.
- China Educational Tours: This company focuses on educational tours for students and schools, and is a popular choice for many schools in the USA and Australia.
- Andy Beales: A British photo guide who has lived in China for more than 10 years, Andy offers expert guidance for photography enthusiasts looking to capture the best shots in Guilin.
- Mercier Zeng: A local Guilin photo guide who has worked for China Highlights and is now a professional photographer, Mercier offers personalized tours and photography workshops in the area.
Basic Information for Backpackers
Transportation: To reach the Longji Rice Terraces, you can take a public bus from the bus station. However, the number of buses is decreasing, so it's important to check schedules in advance. In Yangshuo, you can rent an E-bike or motorbike to explore the area at your own pace.
Accommodations: There are many youth hostels available in Guilin, Longji, and Yangshuo, providing budget-friendly accommodation and dining options. These hostels are popular among backpackers and budget travelers.