Guilin is dubbed as one of the most beautiful places in China, and it’s easy to see why. The majestic landscape and flowing rivers make it a must see destination on any China itinerary. How long you spend and what you do when you get here is totally up to you, Guilin has so much to offer you could easily keep yourself occupied for a week, or just a few days. Three full days / 4 nights in probably the best and will allow you do to all the top attractions.
Li River Cruise
This will make any top ten list of things to do in China let alone Guilin. There are many options to choose from, 1 hour, 4 hour or even 5 days. We think the 4 hour deluxe cruise is the best option. You have a reserved seat that you can come back to at any time and there is a 360 degree viewing platform on top of the boat. The English tour guides speak good English and you even get a hot lunch included. The scenery is just stunning and will probably be the highlight of your trip to china.
Sun and Moon Pagoda
Right in the heart of Guilin there is a lake that is home to two giant pagodas. One is lit with white light to represent the moon and the other with red to represent the sun. Not only are the pagodas absolutely beautiful but the whole surrounding area is fabulously lit with multi coloured lighting and makes for a really enjoyable evening stole. Whether you are saying in Guilin or not this is definitely a place you should visit after dark.
The elephant trunk is the famous landmark of Guilin. You will need to pay to get the best view of the trunk whether it’s by boat or buying ticket to the Elephant Hill Experience, which unfortunately is all in Chinese, but it’s fantastic to look at and the best place to take photographs. You are also treated to a 20 minute dance show and get to walk around lanterns that we think tell a romantic story.
Hotels in Guilin are very cheap, we are paying £22 a night for a nice hotel that includes breakfast. The rooms are huge compared to what we became used to in Hong Kong, just be prepared for a very hard mattress. Hostels are available, and 6 person-shared dooms can be had for as low as £5. Just be prepared for your hotel reception to speak zero Chinese (but you may get lucky) so make sure you have a translation app installed on your phone.
Unfortunately we can’t be too much help here as we did not eat out once in Guilin because each day we was there we were out on an organised tour that included lunch, so we generally only had snacks when we were back in the evening. If you are traveling on a budget and like instant noodles then a big pot can be picked up for 60p and the water is around 30p for 1.5 litres. Looking at some on the restaurants you can expect to pay around £7 for a main meal. We only saw a couple of decent restaurants in Guilin that looked like they had acceptable standards of hygiene, if you eat anything from a street vender you are much braver than us!
If you book an organised tour to the big attractions you will mostly be picked up from your hotel and dropped back off either in central Guilin or back at your hotel. For all the other times there are 18 bus routes in Guilin with routes printed online but because the taxis seem to be so cheap you could save yourself a lot of time and hassle. Getting from the airport to Guilin is easy; as soon as you arrive you’ll see an airport shuttle ticket counter, this will take you into the heart of Guilin. From here you can either walk to your detonation or grab a taxi. You can pick the airport shuttle back up from the Aviation Hotel 18 Shanghai Street and they run every 30 minutes.