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Top 8 Things to Do in Guilin (Best Places to Visit)

Guilin's karst landscapeGuilin's karst landscape

Guilin has some of the most beautiful karst landscape in the world. From taking a relaxing cruise along the Li River to hiking or biking in Yangshuo's countryside, there are so many things to do and to see that cater for different travel styles. We've gathered a roundup of the top 8 things to do and see on your Guilin vacation.

Touring Guilin and the surrounding towns of Yangshuo and Longsheng is all about scenery and leisure, such as cruising along the Li River, pedaling in the countryside, and visiting minority villages.

1. Cruise the Li River

Li River cruiseLi River cruise

You will have a true sense of classic China as you relax on a cruise boat and appreciate the jade waters and bamboo-lined banks of the Li River, meandering among jutting karst peaks.

Take some photos and create a lasting memory. Our guides are happy to take photos of you and your family if you travel with us.

There are cruise boats to tour the river, and also motorized “bamboo” pipe rafts with seats and a canopy. The cruise takes half a day and the start time requires you to stay for one night in Guilin. The raft tours take about 1 hour on the most renowned stretch of the Li River but the outboard motors are noisy. We recommend our customers take a cruise boat.

2. Take Countryside Tours to Explore Yangshuo

Yulong river bamboo raftYulong river bamboo raft

The grazing water buffalos, farmers working in their fields, and a couple of small villages with old buildings set among green karst hills create a scene of timeless beauty in Yangshuo. You can go cycling among the rice paddies and tranquil villages or take a bamboo raft on the Yulong River.

Travelers who are not fond of cycling can enjoy the countryside too, as we provide other means of transport.

Cycling trips are weather sensitive, so our tour plans and guides are flexible. We can change your itinerary with you so that you make the best of rainy days and enjoy cycling when the weather is good.

3. Visit the Rice Terraces and minority Villages

Customers at LongjiChina Highlights Customers talking with a local women in Longji

Guilin's rice terraces look like great chains or ribbons as they wind around the contours in tiered bands. The ethnic minority villages are also worth exploring.

We believe an authentic travel experience goes beyond visiting the must-see attractions, and includes genuinely connecting with the locals and their customs. When you visit the rice terraces, we suggest you visit a local ethnic family and let them share with you their stories while cooking bamboo tube rice.

The Longji area is about 70 kilometers (40 miles) from Guilin, near the tallest peak in South China. There are bumpy country roads and a highway. Most travel agencies use the winding country roads. We use the highway, which is much safer and more comfortable, and it will save you about 1 hour’s journey time.

4. Sample the Nightlife in Yangshuo’s West Street

West Street is a very busy shopping street with hundreds of restaurants, souvenir shops, disco clubs, and bars.

Yangshuo West StreetYangshuo West Street

This street is quiet during the day, with clothing shops and food venues open to the curious eye. But at night, it is completely different. When the evening arrives, tons of bars open with live music and karaoke.

It’s a noisy place with Chinese and foreign tourists as well as loud music at night, but it is still a great atmosphere if you like this type of entertainment.

5. Discover Reed Flute Cave

Apart from karst mountains, the limestone karst caves in Guilin are also worthy of a visit. Reed Flute Cave is the best among all the caves in and around Guilin.

Reed Flute CaveReed Flute Cave

Reed Flute Cave is a fascinating gallery of natural sculptures. It is filled with a large number of stalactites, stalagmites, and rock formations in weird and wonderful shapes. A visit to the cave takes about 3 hours.

6. Watch the River Night Show

The Impression of Third Sister Liu (Impression Liu Sanjie) is a spectacular nighttime show with colorful lights, music, and folk songs, all staged on the Li River.

It's a very nice show that is staged mainly against the natural spectacular backdrop and has about 600 performers. It was made by the same man who organized the show for the 2008 Beijing Olympics — Zhang Yimou.

If you are interested, you can ask for help from your guide who can arrange the ticket and transfer for you. He/she can also help you understand the performance, which is given in Chinese.

7. Eat Guilin Rice Noodles

Rice noodlesRice noodles

Rice noodles are the most popular type of local snack in Guilin, and local people consume them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Guilin rice noodles can probably be found within 100 meters of any town or city corner here.

Our guides, who have lived in Guilin for over 25 years, can lead you to find the most authentic restaurants hidden in the backstreets.

8. Walk/Cruise the City Lakes

The Two Rivers and Four Lakes water system forms a continuous picturesque waterway through the center of Guilin. The sight is especially pretty at night with the colorful lighting.

There are two ways to visit the two rivers and four lakes — one is to take a walk around the lakes and the other is to take a cruise boat.

Tour Guilin with a Local Expert

A fisherman fishing with cormorant on the Li River, Guilin A fisherman fishing with a cormorant on the Li River. Travel with us to discover more authentic experience. 

Still want to  know what to do for an unusual Guilin experience or being interested in  off-beaten activities? You may like these:  visiting a local rural market, doing a cooking class in Yangshuo, or picking tea in a tea plantation. We are based in Guilin and know everything about the city, from the must-see attractions to the hidden authentic restaurants.

Our travel consultants, who often conduct field inspections and spend their weekends hanging out around Guilin, know what to suggest and can help you tailor-make a tour based on your interests.

Here are some Guilin itineraries for your reference (all of them can be customized):