Guilin Visa-Free Travel — How to Make the Most of It
The Li River
Guilin is a popular destination for natural landscapes. Now it's 72-hour (3-day) visa-free transit for 51 countries, and 144-hour (6-day) visa-free for 10 ASEAN countries. You can stay here for a short visit before heading to a third destination. Read on to get some ideas for visa-free travel in Guilin.
Guilin: 3-Day Visa-Free for 51 Countries
Following Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Dalian, Shenyang, and Xi'an, Guilin is the next 3-day (72-hour) visa-free city.
Travelers from 51 countries with an onward flight from Guilin to the third country/region are able to benefit from this policy.
What Are the Conditions?
You must be a citizen of one of the 51 countries included in the 72-Hour-Transit Visa Exemption Program.
You must have valid international travel documents and air tickets for an onward international flight, with confirmed flight dates and seats, for a third country (or separately administered China region i.e. Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan).
You must enter and leave "China" at Guilin Liangjiang Airport within 72 hours (from 00:00 the day after you arrive).
You may not leave the administrative area of Guilin Prefecture during your stay.
Which Countries Are Covered in the Policy?
The nationals of the following countries are eligible
for the visa exemption program:
Americans (of 6 countries): the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico,
Argentina, and the Republic of Chile
European citizens (of 37 countries): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Czech
Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy,
Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal,
Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, the United Kingdom,
Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania
Oceanians (of 2 countries): Australia and New Zealand
Asians (of 6 countries): South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the
United Arab Emirates, and Qatar
1. How does it work? Do I need to submit an application to the Embassy?
You don’t have to submit an application. When you arrive at Guilin Liangjiang Airport, Immigration Department staff will direct you to the visa-free access check point, check your passport and onward flight tickets (and hotel and tour bookings) to make sure that you meet the requirements of the policy. After that, your passport will get a Guilin 72-hour visa-free permit stamp showing the date you arrive in Guilin and when you must leave by.
2. Does a travel agent apply for the visa-free access, or do I have to do so personally?
You have to do this personally and the procedure is very easy (see question 1). But you should obtain documentary evidence of an itinerary from a permitted Guilin travel agent, including which hotel(s) you will use and where are you going, in case the Immigration Department ask for that.
3. What travel agent can I travel with? Does it have to be a Chinese one, or can we book with e.g. Thomson?
The Guilin 72-hour visa-free policy only permits travel with certain Guilin travel agents. China Highlights is one of them. China Highlights has been specializing in tailor-making China tours for over fifteen years.
4. Is the 72-hour limit in the "72-Hour Transit Visa Exemption" calculated starting from the flight arrival time in Guilin?
No. The 72-hour limit is calculated starting from 00:00 the day after arrival. For example, if a traveler arrives at Guilin Liangjiang Airport on August 1, 2014, the visa exemption period is calculated starting from 00:00 on August 2, 2014. The traveler must leave Guiiln Liangjiang Airport before 23:59 on August 4, 2014 on an international flight.
5. Can I leave Guilin for another city in China which is also 72-hour visa-free during the 72-hour-transit visa exemption period?
No, the range of travel during the visa exemption is limited to the administrative area of Guilin Prefecture. This includes Yangshuo and Longsheng counties, but not any other China cities, or anywhere over the prefecture border.
6. What should I do if I cannot leave China within the 72 hours due to some unforeseeable circumstance?
In case of a special need to stay in Guilin Prefecture longer than 72 hours, due to force majeure, or some other reason for exceeding the permitted scope of stay, a passenger should apply for the relevant visa to the Exit-Entry Administration Department of the Municipal Public Security Bureau of Guilin (桂林市公安局出入境管理部门 Guilin Shi Gong'an Ju Chu-Ru Jing Guanli Bumen).
7. If I buy something taxable in Guilin, do I still need to pay goods taxes at the customs check?
Yes. The visa-free policy is not a tax-free policy. Travelers still have to pay customs taxes for goods.
Guilin: 6-Day Visa-Free for 10 ASEAN Countries
Guilin now offers 6-day (144-hour) visa-free transit to ten ASEAN countries. Passports holders from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, Brunei, and thePhilippines can enjoy the new visa-free transit policy.
Limitations about the Policy
Time: The 144 hours (6 days) starts from 24:00 on the day of arrival.
Nationality: ASEAN passport holders
Groups: at least 2 people; single-person transit doesn't apply
Airport: Arrive and depart at Guilin Liangjiang Airport.
Transit: Travelers must transit between Guilin and a third "international" destination (Hong Kong is okay). No return flights allowed.
Travel Agency: Groups must be received by a travel service designated by the Guilin Tourism Administration (e.g. China Highlights).
Area: Travelers may not cross the Guilin Prefecture border.
Guilin Liangjiang Airport
Guilin's Main "International" Destinations
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Malaysia)
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (Thailand)
Singapore Changi Airport (Singapore)
Seoul-Incheon International Airport (Korea)
Osaka Kansai International Airport (Japan)
Hong Kong International Airport (Hong Kong)
Taipei-Taoyuan International Airport (Taiwan)
Kaohsiung International Airport (Taiwan)
to Spend Your 3 (or 6) Days in Guilin
Longji Rice Terraces
Guilin's top attractions are all accessible
with this policy: the Li River, Yangshuo, the Longji Terrace Fields, etc. Just
don't go outside Guilin Prefecture to e.g. the Sanjiang Dong Minority area (in Liuzhou
The Must See Three
The Li River: Flanked by green karst hills, the Li River is one of the most
beautiful rivers in the world. Taking a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is a
must-do activity for most travelers.
Yangshuo, about 1½ hour’s drive from Guilin, is a place to enjoy
picturesque countryside scenery. Having a ride in the countryside and going bamboo
rafting on the Yulong River are great ways to relax in rural beauty.
Longji Rice Terraces, about 1½
hours’ drive from Guilin city, is one of the must-visit places in Guilin. Appreciate
the stunning cultivated scenery, and visit ancient Zhuang and Yao minority
villages to experience traditional local life.
In Guilin's Downtown
Elephant Hill Park
If your time is not enough to journey
outside Guilin City, you can visit the famous downtown attractions, such as:
Elephant Trunk Hill: Known as the
symbol of Guilin, it is a karst hill beside the Li River. It offers easy
walking and good photo opportunities.
Reed Flute Cave: This is the largest and most magnificent karst cave in Guilin. You
will be awed by its fascinating natural sculptures.
Fubo Hill: The cave underneath is impressive with its old carvings and its
Buddhist temple. Another claim to fame is that the top
of the hill can give a great bird’s eye view of the city.
If you are a lover of history and
antiquities, you can visit:
Daxu Ancient Town: About 1 hour’s drive from the city
center, the town remains old in appearance and quiet. You can see the old-fashioned
buildings with gray roofs and white walls, and visit the local residents’
houses to see their antique decorations.
Xingping Ancient Town: About 25 kilometers (15 miles) from
Yangshuo, this town is famous for its well-preserved historical architecture,
top hill scenery on the Li River, and its fishing village culture.
Night Activities That Will Enrich
The lakes in the city center decorated by
colorful lights look fantastic. Strolling
by the lakes and taking a Two Rivers Four Lakes cruise are good ideas. The
cruise is about 1 hour.
Shopping on Zhengyang Pedestrian Street for some souvenirs and enjoying a cup
of coffee in a cafe by the Li River are also popular.
Impression Liu Sanjie
The tourist zone of Yangshuo is busy at
night, especially West Street. You
can stroll around the buzzing streets and buy some special souvenirs, or find a
quiet cafe to have a cup of coffee.
The night performance — Impression Liu Sanjie — is stunning! The
performers wearing ethnic costumes deliver you a magnificent mountain-backdrop musical
on the Li River. It tells a traditional Zhuang ethnic story. This performance
has received high praise from tourists.
2-Day Tour Recommendations
One Day in Guilin City and One Day in Yangshuo
Most tourists chose to stay in Guilin City
for one day and spend the rest of the time in Yangshuo.
One Day in Guilin City and One Day Hiking in Longji
For tourists who want to relax but also
adventure, a day tour in Guilin City with a 1-day hiking tour at Longji
Terraced Fields fits the bill.
3-Day Tour Recommendations
Ride a bike in the countryside of Yangshuo.
Option one: 1 day in Guilin City, 1 day in Yangshuo, and 1 day in Longji
Option two: 1 day in Daxu Ancient Town, 1 day in Yangshuo, and 1 day in Longji
A 6-Day Tour Recommendation
1: Daxu Old Town and Guilin highlights Day
2: Guilin to Longji, with overnight stay in a traditional
hillside village Day
3: Walking among rice terraces; Longji to Guilin Day
4: Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo Day
5: Yangshuo countryside tour Day
6: Local cookery experience; Guilin departure