Guilin and nearby Yangshuo are popular destinations for tourists. Guilin is more than 1,600 kilometers or about 1,000 miles from Shanghai, and a train trip takes about 22 or 23 hours. Except for K181, the trains continue on to Nanning to the south. Nanning is the capital of Guangxi Province. All the trains on this route are regular K passenger trains that are slow compared to the newer trains. All trains have 4-bed soft sleeper cabins, 6-berth hard sleeper compartments, hard seat cars, and a restaurant car. The trains between these locations are crowded, and they aren't the best way to travel. Flying is better. The trains are especially crowded during the Chinese Spring Festival and the National Day holiday period.
There are two railway stations in Guilin called Guilin Station and Guilin North Station that is far from the city center. The K181 train terminates at the Guilin North Station. The others make a stop at the Guilin Station at the center of town. The quickest train is the K537 that leaves Shanghai about 5:00 pm. It takes about an hour and a half. The other trains take about 24 or 25 hours.
Soft Sleeper: about 530 RMB or 80 USD
Hard Sleeper: about 350 RMB or 53 USD
The price varies for whether you get a top or bottom bunk. Because of the crowded conditions, the hard-seat tickets are not recommended.