Welcome to Guilin
As one of the most popular tour destinations, Guilin attracts the worldwide tourists and photographers by its spectacular landscapes and ethnic minority people.
The scenery of Li River and thousands of karst mountains are the soul of Guilin, dotted with cormorant fishermen at dawn and duck. Plus the man-made wonder by Zhuang and Yao minorities, Longji Rice Terraces, so Guilin is reputed as 'the most beautiful landscapes under heaven'.
Guilin vs Yangshuo
Yangshuo is one of 12 counties of Guilin, about one hour drive away from Guilin. Yangshuo is the tourists center of Guilin, you can go to Yangshuo directly after landing. Most beautiful spots are located in Yangshuo, including Yulong River and its countryside scenery, photography mountains, cormorant fishermen (Xingping), and some outdoor adventures like rock climbing, countryside cycling.
Guilin is worth to spend one or half day, city lakes in downtown are charming and relaxing for night walking. If you are thinking of taking a Li River cruise, have to stay overnight in Guilin on arrival, the cruise ships start from Guilin.
The Li River
It is renowned as being one of "the world's top 10 watery wonders" according to National Geographic. Taking a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is the most popular way to enjoy the Li River scenery, besides, the motorized rafting in Xingping is another best way to experience the highlights of Li River. There are thousands of karst mountains along the river, good for photography as well.
Longji Terraced Fields & Minority Tribes
2 hours drive from Guilin, as one of the best places in China to see the terraced fields combined with minority villages. There are more than 5 villages in Longji, the most popular ones are Ping An and Dazhai. The best season to visit terraced fields is spring (March to June) while all fields irrigated and autumn (October) while all rice become golden.
About 40 minutes drive from Yangshuo downtown, and climb 800 well-constructed stone steps to the hill top, overlooking the the Li River, karst mountains and villages, it is an amazing experience. It is one of the most popular spots in Yangshuo for sunrise and landscape photography.
Cormorant Fishermen in Xingping
The Li River in Xingping is the most beautiful section, besides the unique mountain peaks, the area is best known for the cormorant fishing. The old cormorant fishermen now is becoming the model of photographers all over the world, they light up the gas lamp at dusk, holding cormorants on shoulders, dotted with the background mountains in distance, so you can imagine what kind of photos they can make.
Yulong River Scenic Area
Yulong River is the mother river of Yangshuo, most of nice boutique hotels are built along the river, some of good ones even run by westerners. Day time, the river is very busy, tourists take the bamboo rafting and enjoy the relaxing and peaceful countryside scenery. The rafts flow through high mountains, rice fields and villages. Stop by at a riverside hotel, and have a coffee or tea is another joy here.
It is getting more and more popular in recent years, just about 30 minutes drive from Yangshuo and 20 minutes climbing up to the mountain top. Because of its unique karst peak mountains and local village rivers, plus the perfect angle for sunset photography, it attracts the photographers all over the world.
As a new sightseeing spot, it attracts more and more tourists and photography lovers. It takes one hour drive from Guilin, and 20 minutes climbing up the the top view point. There are hundreds of fish ponds in the flat fields, overlooking like a huge broken glass or mirror, plus the colorful roofs of local houses, make it very photogenic and dreamlike. Scenery on east and west side of the view point is completely different.
Reed Flute Cave
Because of karst landforms, there are many caves in Guilin and Yangshuo. Reed Flute Cave is one the most popular caves, very close to Guilin downtown. Many celebrities have been visited the place, now it becomes a much see for people who travel Guilin. You will spend one hour inside the cave to see the different size stalactites dotted with colorful lights.
The Best Time to Visit Guilin
Guilin has a long rainy season, it may start in the December, and end in May. The best travel time is May to October.
For landscape photography, March to May has high chance to photograph the mountains in mist, both in Li River and karst mountain areas and Longji rice terraces.
July to August is the summer holiday, it is the peak season.
Drone Photography Restrictions
In most places like the Li River and karst mountain areas in Yangshuo, Longji Terraced Fields scenic area and minority village, you can fly your drone free.
Parts of area in Guilin downtown has some unclear restrictions, better not fly your drones, although you may see some Chinese do.
You can check out the latest updates here.
Stay at Amazing Places
There are many boutique hotels with gorgeous view, we listed some foreigners-friendly (English speaking staff and western standard facilities) hotels here.
- Misty Wonderland (画山云舍)： Close to the photography spot, Xianggong Hill; built on the top of a valley, facing the karst mountains, inclusive peaceful countryside life
- Yangshuo Mountain Retreat (胜地酒店): Located by the Yulong River side, see the raftings flow through from the room window, have tea or coffee by river side
- Moon Dance (云舞酒店)： Surrounded by beautiful countryside sceneries, play and stay in village
- Longji Tianjiange Hotel (田间阁)： Built on the top side of the view point of Longji Rice Terraces (Ping An Village), 2 minutes walking to the view point.
Travel Guilin with Confidence
If you are looking for some trusted and Guilin-based travel companies or guides, here we go.
- China Highlights: Online over than 20 years, the leading of the industry, specialized in tailor-making tours.
- China Educational Tours: Focus on educational tours for students and schools, choices of many USA and Australia schools.
- Andy Beales: A British photo guide, once live in China for more than 10 years.
- Mercier Zeng: A Guilin local photo guide, worked for China Highlights and now a professional photographer.
Basic Information for Backpackers
Transportation: If you are going to Longji rice terraces, can take the public bus in the bus station, the number of buses is decreasing. In Yangshuo, you can rent an E-bike or motor bike to explore the area by yourself.
Accommodations: There are many youth hostels in Guilin, Longji and Yangshuo, can stay and eat there.