Guilin is a scenic city and one of the best-known tourist destinations in China. The spectacular karst hills are easily seen from anywhere around the urban area, and the Li River graces its axis. However the most scenic places of Guilin Prefecture are located in its two famous counties — Yangshuo and Longsheng. An old saying goes that “Guilin's landscape is the best in the world, and Yangshuo’s landscape is the best in Guilin.” While Longsheng's rice terraces offer panoramas and minority culture that neither Guilin City nor Yangshuo can.
So people may ask the question “Is Guilin City worth a stay? Should we go to Yangshuo or Longsheng directly and miss out Guilin City?”
Below are some reasons why you might stay in the city.
Guilin consists of one city and twelve counties including Yangshuo and Longsheng. The main airport, train station, and bus station are all located in Guilin City. It only takes 40 minutes’ drive from the airport to the downtown area.
Guilin Railway Station and Guilin Bus Station are both on downtown Zhongshan Road. Guilin North Railway Station is about 10 km north. Guilin City is located between Yangshuo and Longsheng.
It is a traffic hub for travelers to travel around the area. Because of this Guilin City may be worth a stay to break up a journey, especially for those who take a late flight or train in, or an early one out.
Longsheng Town is about 110 km northwest from Guilin City and it is famous for the Longji Terraced Fields, a popular tourist destination all year around. It takes about 4 hours’ drive from Yangshuo to the Longji Terraced Fields, but 2½ hours from Guilin City.
There are hotels and guest houses offered on the terraced fields, but most of them are basic. Visitors who have high requirements for hotels, or want to enjoy city nightlife, are better to stay overnight in Guilin City. Guilin City offers much better hotels (5-star hotels like the Shangri-la and Sheraton), and there are buses operating from Guilin Railway Station to Longsheng every morning. It is no problem to come back the same day.
The Li River is the most popular and picturesque scenic area in Guilin. It is listed as one of the world's “15 Best Rivers for Travelers” by CNN Travel. It is no exaggeration to say that the Li River is the main reason for most tourists visiting Guilin.
The best way to visit the Li River is to take a cruise boat from Guilin to Yangshuo. Zhujiang Wharf is the boarding point for a Li River Cruise and mainly the boats leave from Zhujiang Wharf at 09:30 and 10:00 every morning. The wharf is about 30 km or 45 minutes' drive from Guilin city center.
So staying the night in Guilin to take the cruise in the morning makes sense.
In Guilin City, there are also some top sights. Reed Flute Cave in the suburbs is the most popular and attractive cave in Guilin.
The Jingjiang Princes’ Mansion and Solitary Beauty Peak, with its combination of history and natural beauty, is one of the 5A attractions in Guilin (the other two are the Li River and Merryland theme park). Elephant
Trunk Hill and Seven Star Park in downtown Guilin offer their own iconic attractions: panoramic views of the Li and city, hills shaped like an elephant and a camel, a zoo, and a cave.
The Four Lakes Water System in the center is stunning and colorful at night. Taking a cruise on the four lakes is a popular night activity. Daxu Ancient Town, 20 km southeast of Guilin City, is also worth a visit. The bluestone paving and ancient houses will bring you back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties.