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

Attractions

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)
AttractionType of AttractionRankLocationHours from GLHours for a visitTime of day(Entry) Cost
Reed Flute Cave Cave3Guilin city02Daytime$11
Seven Star Cave Cave24Guilin city01Daytime$10
Crown Cave Cave10near Guilin12Daytime$9
Merryland Children's31Xing'an24Daytime
Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise16Guilin city01Daytime/Evening$1
Li River Cruise1near Guilin15Daytime$46
Yulong RiverCruise14Yangshuo23Daytime
Solitary Beauty Peak Cultural23Guilin city01Daytime
Daxu Ancient Town Cultural20near Guilin12Daytime$1
Mausoleums Jing Jiang Cultural28near Guilin12Daytime$4
Xingping Cultural15Yangshuo22Daytime
Yangshuo Big Banyan Tree Cultural18Yangshuo21Daytime$2
YangdiCultural21Yangshuo21Daytime
Butterfly Spring Cultural25Yangshuo21Daytime
Fuli Town Cultural27Yangshuo22Daytime
Longji Ancient Zhuang Village Cultural17Longsheng32Daytime$13
Huangyao Ancient Town Cultural9Hezhou42Daytime
Elephant Trunk Hill Hill2Guilin city01Daytime$8
Fubo Hill Hill4Guilin city01Daytime$4
Folded Brocade Hill Hill22Guilin city01Daytime$4
Yao Mountain Hill26near Guilin13Daytime
Moon Hill Hill12Yangshuo22Daytime
Impression Liu Sanjie Night Show13Yangshuo21Evening
Seven Star Park Park6Guilin city02Daytime$12
Taohua River Park30Guilin city01Daytime/Evening
Gudong Waterfall Scenic29near Guilin14Daytime
Longji Terraced Field Scenic5Longsheng24Daytime
Yangshuo Countryside Cycling Scenic7Yangshuo24Daytime
Hiking from Yangdi to Xingping TownScenic8Yangshuo27Daytime
Yangshuo West Street Shopping11Yangshuo21Daytime/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 TourRankLocationHours from GuilinHours for a visitUS$Sold
Guilin City Tour Cave/Hills1Guilin City05110Separately
Lecture on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qigong Cultural18Guilin City04110Separately
Lecture on Traditional Chinese Medicine and QigongCultural18Guilin City0492With a tour
Guilin Li River Tour Cruise2Near Guilin18158Separately
Daxu Ancient Town Tour Cultural6Near Guilin18114Separately
Gudong Waterfall TourScenic7Near Guilin18108Separately
Go Strawberry Picking at Daxu Old Town Scenic19Near Guilin1440With a tour
Yangshuo Park Morning Taiji Learning Tour Cultural8Yangshuo2376Separately
One Day tour to Purple Bamboo Forest Nunnery (Zizhulin An) Cultural12Yangshuo28196Separately
Buddhist TCM Clinique Cultural13Yangshuo28196Separately
Jiuwu VillageCultural15Lingchuan28123Separately
Ancient Ling Canal Tour Cultural17Xing'an28129Separately
Tai Chi Experience in YangshuoCultural8Yangshuo2114With a tour
Yangshuo Chinese Painting or Calligraphy LearningCultural9Yangshuo2114With a tour
Yangshuo Chinese Cookery ClassCultural10Yangshuo2318With a tour
Yangshuo Ai Yuan Chinese Cookery SchoolCultural11Yangshuo2328With a tour
Purple Bamboo Forest NunneryCultural12Yangshuo28184With a tour
Buddhist TCM CliniqueCultural13Yangshuo28184With a tour
Kung Fu Experience in YangshuoCultural16Yangshuo2119With a tour
Longji Terrace Field Memory Tour Scenic3Longsheng28158Separately
Yangshuo Countryside Cycling Tour Scenic4Yangshuo27118Separately
Yulong River Countryside Scenic5Yangshuo26120Separately
Yangshuo KayakingScenic14Yangshuo2328With a tour

Some of our day tours may be purchased separately. Others (Itinerary Plus Tours with 20% off) must be bought along with a China tour including Guilin.

Meals

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.

Shopping

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.

Go!

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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