How to Plan a Day in Guilin
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|
|Two Rivers and Four Lakes||Cruise||16||Guilin city||0||1||Daytime/Evening||$1|
|Li River||Cruise||1||near Guilin||1||5||Daytime||$46|
|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|
|Yangshuo Big Banyan Tree||Cultural||18||Yangshuo||2||1||Daytime||$2|
|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||
|Impression Liu Sanjie||Night Show||13||Yangshuo||2||1||Evening||
|Seven Star Park||Park||6||Guilin city||0||2||Daytime||$12|
|Banyan Lake and Cedar Lake||Park||19||Guilin city||0||1||Daytime/Evening||$1|
|Taohua River||Park||30||Guilin city||0||1||Daytime/Evening|
|Gudong Waterfall||Scenic||29||near Guilin||1||4||Daytime||
|Longji Terraced Field||Scenic||5||Longsheng||2||4||Daytime||
|Yangshuo Countryside Cycling||Scenic||7||Yangshuo||2||4||Daytime||
|Hiking from Yangdi to Xingping Town||Scenic||8||Yangshuo||2||7||Daytime||
|Yangshuo West Street||Shopping||11||Yangshuo||2||1||Daytime/Evening|
So, in choosing a first time to Guilin itinerary, we would recommend Reed Flute Cave as the top cave, Elephant Trunk Hill as the top hill, and an evening cruise on the Two Rivers Four Lakes for your Li River experience (the Li River Cruise takes up to 5 hours and finishes in Yangshuo), to do it all in a day.
Solitary Beauty Peak with its Ming Dynasty mansion is an easy addition for a bit of culture.
China Highlights Day Tours
In the table below are our day tours, sorted according to proximity to Guilin and by tour type, for some additional ideas for things to do. Many of these would be better taken after transferring to Yangshuo. See also Day Trips on our Guilin Tours page.
|One Day Tours||Type of Tour||Rank||Location||Hours from Guilin||Hours for a visit||US$||Sold|
|Guilin City Tour||Cave/Hills||1||Guilin City||0||5||110||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||158||Separately|
|Daxu Ancient Town Tour||Cultural||6||Near Guilin||1||8||114||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|
|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||158||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 (Itinerary Plus Tours with 20% off) must be bought along with a China tour including Guilin.
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.
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.
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.
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".
- The Pick of Guilin
- Guilin Tours
- Guilin Photography Tips: Where and When to Photograph in Guilin
- How to plan a first trip to China?
Questions and Answers About How to Plan a Day in Guilin
I updated this article on February 22, 2014
See all my travel articles