Home China Guide Guilin Tips & Articles How to Plan a Day in Guilin

How to Plan a Day in Guilin

two rivers four lakes Beautiful scenery along the Rong Lake


First select what you want to do from Guilin's many attractions. Usually one or two daytime activities and one evening activity is about right. For a fuller day look for close together attractions that can be easily combined.

First time in Guilin? If you are going to a city as a tourist for the first time you will want to see a selection of attractions which capture the essence of a city. Guilin's key features are its karst hills, Li River, and caves. Be sure you include these if nothing else.

A balanced itinerary: After that you may choose attractions that you have an interest in. For example, there are cultural attractions of various types (historical, architectural, ethnic), not necessarily unique to Guilin, but certainly unique to China, which could add balance to your day that would otherwise be just natural scenery.

If you have children you may want to include something for them (like a trip to the limited zoo at Seven Star Park), though climbing hills and exploring caves usually doesn't leave kids bored and might expend enough energy.

To help you choose attractions for your day in Guilin, we have arranged Guilin's attractions according to:

  • Type of Attraction (Cave, Children's, Cruise, Cultural, Hill, Hot Spring, Mountain, Night Show, Park, Scenic, Shopping)
  • Hours from Guilin
  • Location (attractions not in or near the city usually require a whole day)
  • Popularity (Ranked 1–49)
  • Hours needed for a visit
  • When to visit (daytime or evening)
Attraction Type of Attraction Rank Location Hours from GL Hours for a visit Time of day (Entry) Cost
Reed Flute Cave  Cave 3 Guilin city 0 2 Daytime $11
Seven Star Cave  Cave 24 Guilin city 0 1 Daytime $10
Crown Cave  Cave 10 near Guilin 1 2 Daytime $9
Merryland  Children's 31 Xing'an 2 4 Daytime
Two Rivers and Four Lakes  Cruise 16 Guilin city 0 1 Daytime/Evening $1
Li River  Cruise 1 near Guilin 1 5 Daytime $46
Yulong River Cruise 14 Yangshuo 2 3 Daytime
Solitary Beauty Peak  Cultural 23 Guilin city 0 1 Daytime
Daxu Ancient Town  Cultural 20 near Guilin 1 2 Daytime $1
Mausoleums Jing Jiang  Cultural 28 near Guilin 1 2 Daytime $4
Xingping  Cultural 15 Yangshuo 2 2 Daytime
Yangshuo Big Banyan Tree  Cultural 18 Yangshuo 2 1 Daytime $2
Yangdi Cultural 21 Yangshuo 2 1 Daytime
Butterfly Spring  Cultural 25 Yangshuo 2 1 Daytime
Fuli Town  Cultural 27 Yangshuo 2 2 Daytime
Longji Ancient Zhuang Village  Cultural 17 Longsheng 3 2 Daytime $13
Huangyao Ancient Town  Cultural 9 Hezhou 4 2 Daytime
Elephant Trunk Hill  Hill 2 Guilin city 0 1 Daytime $8
Fubo Hill  Hill 4 Guilin city 0 1 Daytime $4
Folded Brocade Hill  Hill 22 Guilin city 0 1 Daytime $4
Yao Mountain  Hill 26 near Guilin 1 3 Daytime
Moon Hill  Hill 12 Yangshuo 2 2 Daytime
Impression Liu Sanjie  Night Show 13 Yangshuo 2 1 Evening
Seven Star Park  Park 6 Guilin city 0 2 Daytime $12
Taohua River  Park 30 Guilin city 0 1 Daytime/Evening
Gudong Waterfall  Scenic 29 near Guilin 1 4 Daytime
Longji Terraced Field  Scenic 5 Longsheng 2 4 Daytime
Yangshuo Countryside Cycling  Scenic 7 Yangshuo 2 4 Daytime
Hiking from Yangdi to Xingping Town Scenic 8 Yangshuo 2 7 Daytime
Yangshuo West Street  Shopping 11 Yangshuo 2 1 Daytime/Evening

So, in choosing a first time to Guilin itinerary, we would recommend Reed Flute Cave as the top cave, Elephant Trunk Hill as the top hill, and an evening cruise on the Two Rivers Four Lakes for your Li River experience (the Li River Cruise takes up to 5 hours and finishes in Yangshuo), to do it all in a day.

Solitary Beauty Peak with its Ming Dynasty mansion is an easy addition for a bit of culture.

China Highlights Day Tours

In the table below are our day tours, sorted according to proximity to Guilin and by tour type, for some additional ideas for things to do. Many of these would be better taken after transferring to Yangshuo. See also Day Trips on our Guilin Tours page.

One Day Tours  Type of Tour Rank Location Hours from Guilin Hours for a visit US$ Sold
Cave/Hills 1 Guilin City 0 7 89 Separately
Lecture on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qigong  Cultural 18 Guilin City 0 4 110 Separately
Lecture on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qigong Cultural 18 Guilin City 0 4 92 With a tour
Guilin Li River Tour  Cruise 2 Near Guilin 1 8 76 Separately
Daxu Ancient Town Tour Cultural 6 Near Guilin 1 4 106 Separately
Gudong Waterfall Tour Scenic 7 Near Guilin 1 8 108 Separately
Go Strawberry Picking at Daxu Old Town  Scenic 19 Near Guilin 1 4 40 With a tour
Yangshuo Park Morning Taiji Learning Tour Cultural 8 Yangshuo 2 3 76 Separately
One Day tour to Purple Bamboo Forest Nunnery (Zizhulin An)  Cultural 12 Yangshuo 2 8 196 Separately
Buddhist TCM Clinique  Cultural 13 Yangshuo 2 8 196 Separately
Jiuwu Village Cultural 15 Lingchuan 2 8 123 Separately
Ancient Ling Canal Tour  Cultural 17 Xing'an 2 8 129 Separately
Tai Chi Experience in Yangshuo Cultural 8 Yangshuo 2 1 14 With a tour
Yangshuo Chinese Painting or Calligraphy Learning Cultural 9 Yangshuo 2 1 14 With a tour
Yangshuo Chinese Cookery Class Cultural 10 Yangshuo 2 3 18 With a tour
Yangshuo Ai Yuan Chinese Cookery School Cultural 11 Yangshuo 2 3 28 With a tour
Purple Bamboo Forest Nunnery Cultural 12 Yangshuo 2 8 184 With a tour
Buddhist TCM Clinique Cultural 13 Yangshuo 2 8 184 With a tour
Kung Fu Experience in Yangshuo Cultural 16 Yangshuo 2 1 19 With a tour
Longji Terrace Field Memory Tour Scenic 3 Longsheng 2 8 177 Separately
Yangshuo Countryside Cycling Tour Scenic 4 Yangshuo 2 7 118 Separately
Yulong River Countryside  Scenic 5 Yangshuo 2 6 120 Separately
Yangshuo Kayaking Scenic 14 Yangshuo 2 3 28 With a tour

Some of our day tours may be purchased separately. Others must be bought along with a China tour including Guilin. Prices correct at time of publishing (2013). Follow links for the current prices.


Decide where you want breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You may want to sample a specialty of the region. For example might want to eat Guilin rice noodles or a Li River fish. See our Guilin food and restaurants pages.


zhengyangjieShopping at Zhengyang Pedestrian Street

You may also want to build in some time for souvenir shopping. There are a variety of general and specialist Chinese product shops near Pine Lake (杉湖 Shan Hu), on the walking street between Liberation Road (解放路 Jiefang Lu, the road over Liberation Bridge) and Center Square (中心广场 Zhongxin Guangchang).

When to shop: Shopping is probably best done in the evening as scenic attractions require daylight to appreciate them to their fullest. You might also consider shopping in the 12–2pm siesta time in the summer, as the city center will be less busy than in the evening, and you can escape the hot sun (or rain) in air-conditioned buildings.

Make Final Adjustments

When you've decided what you want to do, make sure it fits into a realistic time frame, suitable to your pace. Seeing five attractions in a rush may not be as satisfying as seeing three, with more time for photos and looking around.

Buy tickets/ make reservations/ arrange transport

Some attractions may require booking or paying for in advance (like the Li River Cruise). Some restaurants may require reservations. Arranging for private transport and a driver for the day will save precious time. It may also save money compared to several taxi fares.


li riverThe Li River scenery

Once all the planning is done, all is left is to go. If you take a tour with us, we continue to be at your service 24/7, even after your tour is paid for. If you experience any difficulties, or require any changes to your tour, we will do our best to help. Depending on time before travel cancellations may incur a fee.

Longer Tours

Planning a longer tour of Guilin could be thought of as a series of day tours, if every night you return to the same hotel. If you have a number of days, you could spread out the key attractions over a number of more-balanced day tours (including both nature and culture, with time to relax (and kids' activities).

Visiting areas a significant distance from Guilin with lots to do, like Yangshuo and Longsheng, require at least a day on their own, and we would recommend staying at least a night there. This moves away from the Guilin day tour theme, as you would be better making e.g. Yangshuo your base, and on to "How to Plan a Day in e.g. Yangshuo".

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