Catch the Exclusive Beauties of Guilin
6-Day Guilin Photography Tour
This Guilin photography tour is designed for shutterbugs, catching scenery only otherwise found on postcards or magazines. Climb to the top of a mountain to photograph the great bend on the Li River, take a ferry to the most beautiful section of the river in the early hours of morning to shoot the picturesque scenery, capture an old fisherman and his ospreys, and take candid photos of minority people living near the Longji rice terraces.
- Specialized English-speaking guide with professional photography experience
- Professional guiding to Guilin's photography locations
- Attractions around Guilin that only serious travelers and shutterbugs can find
- The beautiful nature and idyllic life around the Li River
About China Highlights
Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
Explore Guilin by Bike
We had 4 amazing days with China highlights in Guilin. Our Guide Steven made it a perfect experience! It was definitely one of our most memorable trips we ever had and thanks to China highlights and our guide Steven everything went so smooth that we didn’t have to worry about anything - perfect holiday! more
Recommended Hotel in Guilin: Guilin Park Hotel (3-star, central location and by the lakeside)
Upon arrival, you will be met by your local tour guide displaying your name at the arrivals hall of the airport. If you arrive by train, your guide will meet you at the exit of the train station.
Your guide will escort you by private vehicle to your hotel. Have a good rest and be ready for the next day's adventure!
The night scenery in Guilin is beautiful and provides a great way to unwind after a flight. The ‘Two Rivers and Four Lakes' in the downtown area offer pleasant lakeside walks and night cruises.
Meal: breakfast & lunch
Recommended Hotel in Longji : Longji Panorama House Hotel (3-star,the best hotel in the village)
Longji rice terraces are a sight not to be missed when visiting Guilin. They are one of the most impressive man-made wonders in China, built into steep mountainsides. When viewed from the mountaintops, they look like a dragon's ribs; hence the name ‘Dragon's Backbone' (Longji).
Longji is about 2½ hours' drive from Guilin. The terraces cover an area of 66 square kilometers (25 square miles). They were built 600 years ago by local minority people. There are various villages in Longji; the three most famous are Ping'an Zhuang village, Longji Ancient Zhuang village, and Dazhai Yao village.
Today you will head to Dazhai Yao village, one of the most beautiful areas around Guilin. Upon your arrival, first have lunch in a local farmer's restaurant. You will have an opportunity to taste the local food, such as rice cooked in a bamboo tube - a typical dish for local minority people - and some local fresh vegetables. After lunch, have a taste of photographing the fields, as you hike along for about 2 or 3 hours to reach your hotel. You'll snap the marvelous terraced fields from all angles, with local minority houses dotted around; especially spectacular in autumn when the harvest is ripe and golden.
Good to know:
- Longji Panorama House Hotel is at the top of a mountain and it takes about 2 or 3 hours to walk there from the parking lot. If you are not able to walk that far, please ask your advisor to substitute another hotel, nearer the cable car station.
- We tentatively arrange the overnight stay in Dazhai because from July to October the scenery there is more attractive. From November to March, however, the scenery at Ping'an is more attractive. If your trip is any time between November and June, please ask your travel advisor to arrange the overnight stay at Ping'an Zhuang village.
Meal: breakfast & lunch
Recommended Hotel in Yangshuo : Yangshuo Changfeng Green Water Resort
Your hotel is the best hotel in the vicinity, with the best location for photographing the sunrise less than 10 minutes' walk away. Get up early (if the weather is good) to shoot the stunning sunrise over the spectacular terraced rice fields. Walk down through the fields after breakfast, and you can continue to take photos from different angles. In September and October, locals hang lots of red peppers and golden corncobs under their roofs. The nearby Yao and Zhuang minority villages, with traditional wooden houses, should not be missed.
On the way, visit a local minority family and taste a local snack of minority origin, particularly popular with the Yao and Zhuang people: oil tea. This can quench thirst and cure rheumatism in humid mountain areas. You'll see how to make it and will interact with local people who have lived there for generations.
After lunch, you will go down the mountain and leave Longji for Yangshuo (about 4 hours' drive), visiting Cuiping on the way. Cuiping Five Fingers Mountain, 22 km north of Yangshuo, near the town of Putao, is a nice place for taking sunset photos. It takes around 20 minutes to climb the mountain and from there you'll photograph the karst mountain peaks, with some villages, many paddies and a river flowing by. It's a wonderful view, not to be missed, even in bad weather.
Meal: breakfast & lunch
Recommended Hotel in Xingping : Yangshuo Xingping Island Resort (a boutique hotel on a beautiful location beside the Li River)
You will rise early and transfer to Xianggong Hill, the best place for photos of the breathtaking sunrise over the bend in the Li River. After you reach the top, you'll have about 20 minutes to watch the Li River running round a right-angled bend as the sun rises in the background (the top photo of this tour).
After Xianggong Hill, you'll visit Fuli Bridge, which has a history of over 600 years. It's a special spot not so well known to travelers, located at the upper reaches of the Yulong (Meeting a Dragon) River. You can take some photos of the bridge stretching across the river, surrounded by Guilin's unique karst hills.
Later relax and take a ride on a bamboo raft. The raft drifts along for about 1.5 to 2 hours from Jinglong Bridge to Jiuxian village. The raft journey on the Yulong River is idyllic and therapeutic; watching the rice fields and water buffaloes glide by, listening to the birds and enjoying the cool gentle breeze makes everything seem worthwhile.
Lunch will be served in one of the local restaurants in Yangshuo.
In the afternoon, you will be driven to Xingping Ancient Town to photograph another highlight of the Guilin area: a Li River fisherman, on his bamboo boat and with a unique gas lamp, resplendent in the rose sunset (pray for cooperative weather). You will love the fisherman, who poses in many different yet natural ways. Your guide will make sure you get the best possible photos of the fisherman and the river.
Good to know:
1. Upon arrival in Xingping, you will take a ferry to a small, beautiful and peaceful island, where you hotel is located. Your luggage will be transferred to Xingping in advance, by private car.
2. As Yangshuo is extremely touristy and crowded, especially during festivals, we arrange for an overnight stay in Xingping, to save you all the hustle and bustle. Besides, Xingping is the best place for photographing the beautiful Li River sunrise and sunset.
Meal: breakfast & lunch
Continue to collect sunrise photos or misty-morning photos around the Li River. You'll be taken to the dock in Xingping. Enjoy the beautiful, peaceful river, as you take a ferry to sunrise spots nearby, for some fantastic photos of the sunrise. This stretch is one of the most spectacular on the river, incorporating the 20-yuan banknote view.
The next destination is Xiping Ancient Town, a time-honored town which grew from a small fishing village. The village still preserves buildings built in styles from the Ming (1368–1644 AD) and Qing (1644–1911 AD) dynasties.
Your guide will take you to the side of Xiaomian Mountain (Small Face Mountain) to capture the sunset, along with the 20-yuan banknote view. Standing there, you will see the whole banknote mountain from a different angle than usual.
1. The Best Time to Photograph Guilin
The prime time for photography in Guilin is from May to October. During these months, the daytime is longer and the light is good, and temperatures are hot or warm. November to February is the low-water season.
2. Guilin's Best Sunset Locations
Guilin: Pierced Hill (Chuanshan)
Yangshuo: Cuiping Wuzhishan, Wulong Spring village, Gongnong Bridge
Xinping: Small Face Mountain and Big Face Mountain
3. Guilin's Best Sunrise Locations
Yangshuo: Xianggong Hill
Xingping: Laozhai Mountain, Yellow Cloth Shoal, Xialong Bay
4. About Xianggong Hill
Xianggong Hill is great for sunrises and sunsets. It takes 1.5 hours to drive there from Guilin city center, and 40 minutes from Yangshuo. The sunrise is at about 05:30 hrs from June to August, 06:00 hrs from September to October, and 06:30 hrs in December. You must climb many steps to reach the viewpoint. Our guide will prepare flashlights for you.
5. Small Face Mountain
It is a great place for sunset photography at any season in Xingping. Sunset is around 17:30 in summer and 16:30 in winter. The path to the shooting area is difficut to walk in rainy days.
6. Fuli Bridge
Suitable for shooting at any time. Rarely interrupted by tourists, you can take photos of this ancient bridge with its reflection in the water. There are more chances to come across water buffalos or ducks in this fantastic karst landscape between 16:00 and17:00.
7.Sunrise comparison between Reflection of Yellow Cloth Shoal and Xialong
The Yellow Cloth Shoal is one of the highlights of the Li River and one of the best places for Guilin's karst landscape sunrise. The sunrise is much better at the Yellow Cloth Shoal than at Xialong. The morning clouds in Xialong, however, are fantastic. So we will first take you to photograph the sunrise at the Yellow Cloth Shoal, and then to enjoy the colorful morning clouds at Xialong. Reach the Yellow Cloth Shoal via a 30-minute ride on a motorized bamboo raft. Sunrise starts at 05:00 hrs in summer and 06:30 hrs in winter. September is the best time for the sunrise.
Reach Reflection of Yellow Cloth by a motorized bamboo raft for 30min. Sunrise starts at 05:00 in summer and 06:30 in winter. September is the best time for the sunrise.
8. Longji Rice Terraced Fields Photography Tips
Jinkeng (Dazhai) Terraced Fields is better preserved with more capacious views and has much less tourists and is less commercial than Ping'an Village. The golden rice is cut later than Ping'an Village during China's National Day holiday.
The end of March is the best time to shoot the many cole flowers in the terraced fields. From the end of April to the beginning of May, the fields turn a beautiful red, because of the fertilizer the farmers use.
At the beginning of June, the watered fields are like mirrors, yielding impressive photos. June 8-10 is the annual Spring Plow Festival of the local Zhuang and Yao minorities. If you are fortunate to be there for the festival, you will see many celebrations, but relatively few visitors.
July to August is the best time for viewing the terraced fields. They turn a verdant green, with some clouds in the otherwise clear blue sky.
Golden terraced fields are fabulous during China's National Day holiday. Although we don't recommend visiting China during this period, it's the best time to photograph the countless yellow rice terraces. The rice stalks don't turn golden before National Day and are quickly harvested after the holiday. Rice in Dazhai village is harvested later than in the Ping'an village area. In October, morning and dusk are better periods for photos.
Snow sometimes covers the fields during China's Spring Festival holiday. It's the best chance to obtain photos of snowy terraced fields and at the same time to experience local minority culture.