When to go is largely depends on one's vacation time, budget, weather preferences, and whether you consider high prices and crowds worth overcoming to see Guilin during festival time.
Best time to visit: the April–October high season
The low travel cost season: November–March, winter in Guilin, is typically cold/cool and damp, but can by dry and even warm.
Avoiding the summer vacation crowds and heat: April–May and September–October in Guilin have the most comfortable weather.
Least desirable travel periods: Spring Festival (around late January or early to mid February), Labor Day holiday (1–3 May) and National Day holiday (1–7 October). Millions of Chinese are on the move during the three holidays.
Guilin is a small city in the mountains of southern China, which enjoys a subtropical monsoon climate.
March–May: Spring is the beginning of the rainy season (April to July) in Guilin. The weather is humid and changeable, rapidly transitioning from cool to hot. Prepare warm coats and sweaters in your pack. A light rain coat or umbrella is also necessary.
June–August: Guilin's summer is hot and wet. T-shirts and shorts are enough. Take an umbrella in case of rain. Sunglasses, hat, long-sleeve shirt, and sun cream may be needed to protect you from the strong sun.
September–November: Autumn in Guilin is pleasantly mild and dry. Be mindful of the big difference in temperature between day and night. Prepare a jacket, sweaters, long shirts and pants. Locals consider the weather dry enough to require lip balm.
December–February: Guilin winters rarely have snow, except on the high mountains, like in Longsheng, but it feels very cold with the dampness. It's alternately damp and chilly or warm/cool and dry. A down jacket or overcoat, along with thermal underwear, is needed on many days for protection against the cold.
More on Guilin weather and seasonal things to do>>
Guilin Liangjiang International Airport has plenty of domestic flights from most main cities in China. If Guilin is your first destination in the mainland of China, then you can choose Hong Kong or Guangzhou as a nearby transfer airport. There is one direct flight from Hong Kong to Guilin every afternoon.
When choosing a hotel, consider the hotel's (star) rating, price, and location. First choose the area where you want to stay. Then compare the prices and ratings for that area.
As a long-standing Guilin-based tour operator, China Highlights offers the best hotel booking service. Below are some recommended hotels in Guilin.
Guilin Shangri-la Hotel #2 on Trip Advisor
GLY Royal Palace #3 on Trip Advisor
Lijiang Waterfall Hotel #5 on Trip Advisor
Guilin Sheraton Hotel #7 on Trip Advisor
Guilin Bravo Hotel #6 on Trip Advisor
Guilin Park Hotel #17 on Trip Advisor
Grand Link Hotel Guilin #31 on Trip Advisor
Opposite the Li River on Binjiang Road in downtown Guilin, the house has a perfect location, where you have a river view from the bedroom window. You will stay in a spacious twin-bed bedroom with your own wash room. There is a family garden on the roof, where you can enjoy an afternoon tea break.
The hosts are a very hospitable family of three. The father is a retired middle school English teacher, so there will be no communication barrier between you and this family. They are happy to share their lives and tell you more about Chinese culture. China Highlights can arrange the home stay if you book a Guilin tour with us.
Guilin is famous for its natural scenery. The highlights here are the hills, rivers, and caves of the stunning karst landscape, and the ethnic culture in Longsheng. There are hundreds of attractions in Guilin. The most famous attractions in Guilin are the Li River, Yangshuo and the Longji Terraced Fields.
Three days are enough if you only want to see the karst landscapes. A recommended itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: Sightseeing in Guilin
Day 2: Li River cruise to Yangshuo
Day 3: Yangshuo's countryside
If you want to explore the ethnic culture in Longsheng as well, you will need a day or two more.
Guilin cuisine is characterized by its sour and spicy taste. There is a moderate use of spices, particularly chili. The common cooking methods of Guilin cuisine are stir-frying and steaming. Fresh natural ingredients are used in Guilin dishes, including some wild plants and animals which are rarely eaten in the West.
Western food is also available in Guilin. It's not hard to find Western restaurants in the popular tourist areas of Guilin and Yangshuo.
Some local Chinese restaurants and most "Western" restaurants have English menus. If you have special dietary requirements, it's advisable to get e.g. your guide or hotel staff to write them down in Chinese.
Chinese name: 椿记烧鹅
Address: 2 Zhongshan Middle Road, Xiufeng District (秀峰区中山中路2号)
Tel.: 0773-2806188 / 2856188
Chinese name: 麦香坊餐厅
Open: 10:30am – 10pm
Address: 7 Xinyi Road, Xiufeng District (秀峰区信义路7号)
Tel.: 0773 – 2858866
Chinese name: 桂林粥城
Open: 24 hours
Address: 3 Shanhu North Road, Xiufeng District (秀峰区杉湖北路3号)
Chinese name: 迷迭香餐厅
Open: 10:30am – 11:30pm
Address: 1-1 Yiren Road, Xiufeng District (秀峰区依仁路1-1号)
Chinese name: 左岸餐厅
Open: 11:30am – 11:30pm
Address: Zhengyang Pedestrian Street, Xiufeng District (正阳步行街体育馆旁二楼)
Chinese name: 佐格西餐厅
Open: 11:00am – 9pm
Address: Unit D3, Shangshui Street, 15 Binjiang Road (滨江路15号尚水街D3门面)
Big department stores in the city center and many convenience stores will meet your daily shopping demands. At night the night market in Xicheng Road sells all kind of souvenirs. Remember to bargain when shopping at the night market.
Nightlife in Guilin is colorful and relaxed. You can visit the night market in the downtown or have beer in a bar on the pedestrian street. Walking along the lakes or taking a lake cruise at night is popular. If you're going to stay in Yangshuo overnight, then the Impression show is a must-see.
Most attractions in downtown can be reached by public buses. For some in the suburbs, you should take a taxi. There are many buses to Yangshuo and Longsheng every day from Guilin Bus Station and Guilin Railway Station.
China Highlights offers private chauffeured transport as a more comfortable and convenient alternative to public transportation. Our private tours come with a private vehicle and driver suited to your group size, and an English-speaking tour guide for all your communication needs.
You could travel in Guilin for three days visa free, and there are plans for a 6-day visa-free transit policy for Guilin.
If you want to extend your visa in Guilin, you should go to the foreign section of the Guilin Public Security Entry and Exit Bureau for visa extension. Thirty-day tourist visa (L) extensions are usually issued.
More on China Visas>>
Most of the rest is similar for the whole of China, and is only covered briefly. There is much more on our China Travel Guide pages.
In Guilin most hotels, shops and restaurants only accept yuan. A few accept US dollars. The Bank of China is the only bank providing currency exchange, with branches at the airport and main streets of Guilin. Some hotels also exchange currency, but the rate is a little worse. Many ATMs support foreign bank cards. More on Using Chinese Currency>>
Chinese government establishments work eight hours a day, five days a week. Business hours are generally set between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm. Most shops and restaurants are individual businesses. They work more than eight hours a day including weekends, many opening and closing late. Most banks also work Saturday mornings. More on China Business Hours>>
Tipping is an issue among travelers to China since it is not a part of the culture. We suggest you tip in the following situations as an acceptable politeness as well as bonuses for service providers.
More on Tipping in China>>
Toilets in hotels and airports are usually well kept Western ones. Most public toilets are free and only provide squatting stalls (and urinals). Always carry your own toilet paper. See How to Use a Squat toilet in China.
Electricity in China is 240 volts, alternating at 50 Hz. Some hotels can provide adaptors for guests, but it's better to bring one by oneself. See more on Power Supply and Adapters in China.
Internet: Most hotel rooms offer Wi-Fi or an internet cable for your laptop. Guilin Airport and a number of cafés and restaurants also provide free Wi-Fi. See more on the Internet in China.
Tel.: China's country code is (00)86 and Guilin's area code is (0)773 (add the 0 only if outside Guangxi, but in China). China Highlights offers Cell Phone Rental to help you keep in touch (and save money on local offers). See more on using the phone in China.
When in Guilin, it's really helpful and practical to learn some Chinese phrases since English is not widely spoken.
Smoking: Smoking in public is very common in China, and Guilin is no exception. Most hotels provide non-smoking rooms. Now more and more restaurants and stores are becoming non-smoking ones.
Spitting: Spitting can still be seen regularly, though in some public areas there is a fine for offenders.
Lines: The Chinese are learning to be patient and stand in line, but sometimes you still find people jumping the queue. Politely let them know that you are waiting in line and they will probably give way to save face.
See more on Dealing with Culture Shock in China.
Crossing the Road: It is difficult to cross the street in China for those who are new to China. People in China cross the street anywhere they want, not necessarily on the zebra crossings. We recommend visitors cross the street on the zebra crossing when the green light is on, because the drivers usually slow down there, though not necessarily stop. See more on How to Cross the Road Safely in China.
Visitors can more easily be cheated in a foreign city. Note some tourist traps help you to avoid them. Click here to see how to avoid tourist traps.
Most foreign travelers feel very safe when traveling in Guilin, but occasionally theft occurs. Take care of your valuables when touring. Keep your passport with you all times (a money belt or zipped pocket is safer) and keep a copy of your passport separately in case of loss. If you lose something or are the victim of a crime, you should dial 110 to call the police immediately. See more on Safety and Security in China>>
Guilin People's Hospital (桂林市人民医院) is the only hospital which has a "foreign medical qualification". Address: 12 Wenming Road (文明路12号). Tel.: 86-0773-2820816. See more on Keeping Healthy in China>>
Police: 110, Fire: 119, Ambulance: 120, Weather: 121, Traffic Accident: 122.
Or we can tailor-make a Guilin tour for you according to your special requirements.