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The Li River, or Li Jiang, is in Guilin, in South China’s Guangxi Province. It is renowned as being one of “the world’s top 10 watery wonders” according to National Geographic. The Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo boasts the most beautiful scenery. Along the 86-kilometer waterway, you will see karst peaks, grazing water buffalo, farmers working in the fields, and traditional villages nestled at the bases of the hills.
There are several ways to tour the Li River: take a relaxing cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, take a bamboo raft trip, and hiking alongside the Li River to get closer to nature. The most relaxing and popular way is to take a boat cruise.
The best way to appreciate the beautiful scenery of the karst landscape along the river is to take a Li River cruise. The boat trip from Guilin to Yangshuo is one of the most popular activities in Guilin.
The cruise starts from a pier close to Guilin in the morning (at about 10am). The whole trip takes about 4 hours and reaches Yangshuo at 1.20pm.
Currently, there are two kinds of boat that travel across the Li River: 4-star and 3-star boats. The 4-star boats are the newest and best ones.
Compared to 3-star cruise boats, the 4-star boats provide a more comfortable and enjoyable experience as they are equipped with modern facilities, larger seats, and cleaner Western bathrooms.
The seating capacity of the 4-star cruise boats is half that of the 3-star boats so they are not as crowded and there isn’t much disruptive microphone usage on board. A buffet lunch is served.
Three-star cruises are the most common type to be booked by travel agencies, even for foreign visitors, as they consider the cost to be a priority.
To maximize your Li River experience, we only arrange 4-star cruises for our customers. We try to book upper deck seating as much as possible for the best views.
The Li River day tour usually includes a cruise on the Li River and some activities in Yangshuo after you disembark in Yangshuo in the afternoon.
Most travel companies take their groups to visit some attractions in the Yangshuo countryside, such as Moon Hill, and then hurry back to Guilin at about 5pm in the afternoon.
Our private tours are flexible and the activities in Yangshuo can be customized according to your preferences. You can choose to stroll around West Street, enjoy a rest in a caf é, or go cycling in the countryside.
Taking a bamboo raft along the river is a more traditional way to travel. You can get closer to the water but it is affected by the weather.
It is a different way to see the beautiful scenery of the Li River, and the route is shorter than the ones used for the cruise boats.
We currently don't recommend rafting on the Li River because the standard of service from the raftsmen can't be guaranteed. For example, your raftsman may shorten your rafting trip without prior agreement so that he can have more time for other clients.
Of course, if you do take a bamboo raft trip, the scenery along the river won’t disappoint you — but don’t expect too much in the way of a service from the raftsman.
Read more about a Li River Cruise Versus Bamboo Raft .
Hiking along the Li River you can get closer to nature and you may meet some of the local farmers. It's also good for your health to do some outdoor exercise.
The best time for you will depend upon what Li River scenery you want to see, and how bothered you are by tourist crowds.
Scenery along the Li River differs each season. Spring or post-rain summer is misty with the water and lush peaks shrouded in a veil like a painting; summer and fall are usually sunny with clear vistas of small villages with old buildings set among green karst hills; late autumn and winter is mild to cold, serene, and quiet.
The busy travel season is from May to October, with the busiest times being the summer holidays during July and August and the National Day holiday from October 1st to 7th. Most attractions in Guilin are packed with Chinese travelers.
Read more on the best times to visit Guilin.
A tour to Guilin should be a relaxing escape. We understand that no one likes to travel in a large noisy group, hurrying from one place to another.
Our tours are flexible and private. There are no group tours with strangers and no time-wasting. You can travel at your own pace.
Let’s help you create a Li River tour or you can have a look at our most popular Guilin tours:
Or contact us and we’ll create your perfect Guilin tour.