Home China Guide Guilin The Top 10 Facts You Should Know About Guilin

The Top 10 Facts You Should Know About Guilin

Li River raftingLi River bamboo rafting

The area around Guilin and Yangshuo is one of China's favorite foreign tourist and backpacker destinations. The area is renowned for its mountain and river scenery and natural areas.

Pleasant, mild weather, cruise boats, river rafting and swimming, hiking, and a relaxed atmosphere makes it a favorite tourist spot. Here are 10 facts tourists might know about Guilin to help them on their trip.

1. Guilin is one of China's most popular tourist destinations.

Guilin gets about 3.2 million tourists a year. On TripAdvisor in 2016, Yangshuo ranks 9th in all of China as a popular destination. Yangshuo is a small town 60 kilometers from Guilin city proper. It is the part of the Guilin area that tourists most enjoy. Guilin itself ranks 43 of all the thousands of places to go in this huge country.

With our China Highlights customers, the Guilin area ranks 4 in China.

The Li RiverThe Chinese appreciate the beauty of this place so much they show it on their 20 yuan bill.

2. Guilin has "the most beautiful landscape".

Chinese people esteem it as their most beautiful city area...

There is an old literary saying in China: 'Guìlín's hills and water best under heaven' (桂林山水甲天下). Chinese and foreigners alike love the gnarled hill shapes, and the Yulong and Li Rivers make seeing the area in a relaxed manner easy and fun.

3. The best times to visit Guilin are spring and fall.

The most beautiful scenery is in spring...

Longji TerraceThe Longji rice terraces

For the best scenery, come in the spring when the mists and fogs shroud the area mystically. It is a beautiful photogenic phenomenon, and the countryside and hills are covered with fresh growth and are the most beautifully green too.

Li River: Spring is also when the Li River is highest, so the river cruises extend further, lasting 4 to 5 hours, so you can enjoy more of the landscape. In the relatively dry winter, the cruises may last two hours.

The Longji Terraces, the scenic terraced rice fields north of Guilin, are also at their photogenic colorfully mirror-like best in April and May when they are flooded.

The other best time weatherwise is in the fall...

Spring in GuilinGuilin in spring is fresh and green.

But overall, other than April and May, the other best time to go weatherwise for touring, hiking, biking and outdoor activities is in the fall in September and October when the rainfall slackens and it is still warm. The weather sours by November though.

People especially love the warm moonlight on nights of full moons such as during the local Mid-autumn festival to be outside, eat, and enjoy the breeze. You can enjoy the fall colors too. The Longji Terraces turn golden and ruddy.

4. Two rivers, two hills, and West Street are Guilin's favorite places.

Li River sceneryRafting amid the beautiful scenery along the Li River.

Yulong River rafting and Li River cruises, seeing and climbing up Moon Hill, climbing 228 meter tall Laozhai Hill in Xingping, and shopping and dining in Yangshuo's West Street are the favorite tourist activities.

Of course, there are dozens of other popular things to do in the area. Two caves in particular, Silver Cave that is Guilin's largest and the more popular Reed Flute Cave are local highlights. Reed Flute Cave was rated with a Certificate of Excellence in 2016.

5. Planes or the bullet train are the best ways to go to Guilin.

Guilin Liangjiang International AirportGuilin Liangjiang International Airport gives fast access to tourists.

Airport: Guilin has its own international airport connecting Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, and Thailand as well as dozens of Mainland cities.

Bullet trains: In terms of speed, price, and comfort, it is by far the best way to go Guilin for domestic travel now from much of the country. 

It is about 3 hours from Guangzhou to Guilin (stating at 22 USD), about 3 hours and ten minutes from Shenzhen North to Guilin North (22 USD), 7 hours from Shanghai to Guilin, and 11 hours from Beijing to Guilin. It is only two and a half hours from Guangzhou to Yangshuo (18 USD).

Direct to Yangshuo Station: Guilin and Yangshuo are midpoints of the Gui-Guang High Speed Railway. It recently opened in 2013 and goes to both Guilin North Station and Yangshuo Station.

These stations are about a half hour apart on the train. If you happen to be at the Guilin North Station at the right time and you want to see Xingping, an option is simply get on for a 20-minute ride to the Yangshuo Train Station in Xingping (4 USD). The Yangshuo Station is 6 kilometers east of Xingping in the hills.

Four bullet train stations are in the area: Guilin West, Guilin North, Guilin Station, and Yangshuo Station. Let us help you find the best route to travel. Contact us or use our easy train ticket service.

Yangshuo Rock ClimbingClimbing in Yangshuo

6. Guilin is 72-hour / 144-hour visa free!

This means you can enjoy three days in Guilin if you are a citizen of 51 countries. If you are a citizen of one of the 10 ASEAN countries, you can get a 6-day visa-free entry. Read more about visa-free travel>>

7. Guilin is China's top climbing destination.

The Yangshuo International Rock Climbing Festival is held annually on a weekend in the fall. The dates vary. Hundreds of people from all over the world are attracted to climb.

All those thousands of hills give plenty of places to go. But we recommend that you try climbing only at the regular popular climbing sites since the karst limestone is crumbly, and it is probably dangerous to climb an untried cliff. Also, the cliffs and hills have a lot of thorny bushes and plants as well as snakes and stinging insects such as wasps. Read more about Rock Climbing in Yangshuo>>

8. The best Guilin souvenirs include handicrafts, paintings, and osmanthus.

Yangshuo West Street-travelYangshuo West Street in the evening

Local handicrafts for souvenirs, cultured pearls, and T-shirts that the artists will paint for you made to order are the best local buys and souvenirs. You can tell the artists to paint whatever you want such as your portrait. They are skilled and can do it in about 15 or 20 minutes.

You might also like landscape paintings, Luo Han Guo (a kind of fruit for beverages), osmanthus flowers (herbal tea), paper fans, and calligraphy.

Guilin (桂林 Guìlín /gway-lin/) means 'Osmanthus Woods'. You'll see osmanthus trees in the streets and parks. The locals love the yellow flower, which they use to make cinnamony flavored drinks and food, sold widely as souvenirs.

West Street (西街 Xijie /sshee-jyeah/) is Yangshuo's main shopping street. It is about 157 meters long and 8 meters wide.

yangshuo countryside cyclingBiking and photography in the Yangshuo countryside is a popular recreation.

9. The best place to stay is Yangshuo.

Experienced foreign travelers know that the best place to book a room is in quiet, quaint, and more tourist-friendly Yangshuo. It puts you in the middle of the scenic countryside and next to the beautiful Li River, and you'll more easily get your bearings and enjoy your time. You'll be surrounded by English speaking tourists and get information and help and make friends.

While there are many good hotels and sights in the city of Guilin, it is a more-congested, developing urban area, and the scenery and atmosphere cannot compare with Yangshuo. So we recommend that to most enjoy your time, especially on a short visit, stay in Yangshuo. Many from HK do just this at the weekend, not stopping in the city longer than to catch a Yangshuo bus.

10) Guilin rice noodles are sold on almost every block!

Guilin rice noodlesGuilin rice noodles

Guilin mifen (米粉 mǐfěn /mee-fnn/) is what the locals call their rice noodles, which are the favorite local quick meal. Local people love to add special condiments in their noodles including chopped green onion, pepper, sour bamboo shoots and pickled cow peas.

You are never far from a mifen restaurant in Guilin, and you'll probably like these noodle shops. You can get a small bowl of noodles for 3.5+ yuan. Add the condiments, spices, and sauces you like by yourself and enjoy. More about Guilin noodles>>

Touring the Guilin Area

Chinahighlights membersChina Highlights is a trustworthy, highly experienced Guilin-based agency.

China Highlights is based in Guilin, so we know it better. You can expect the best personalized private tours with us. We can arrange everything from area transportation to your flight tickets and visa to China.

We can help with transportation.

If you are planning on coming to Guilin or Yangshuo, you can contact our local travel guides easily by phone or online. We can provide free travel advice or help you arrange a trip.

We could provide private transportation too. Our private drivers and guides know the area and can help. You can arrange for our driver and guide to wait for you. We provide individualized help for our customers.