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How to Plan a Guilin Trip

How to Plan a Guilin Trip

Written by Candice SongUpdated Feb. 24, 2022

Our travel experts here in Guilin share their tips on how to plan a Guilin trip. It should be a perfect tour if you are willing to spend a little time planning and have an expert to help you.

Best Things to See and Do in Guilin

Guilin is famous for its karst landscapes, idyllic countryside, and rural life, which is still much like it was when your grandparents were young.  A trip to Guilin provides a beautiful contrast to today’s hectic city lives.

A relaxing travel style is essential for you to enjoy the peaceful countryside. So you won’t want to be hurrying from one place to another with a big, noisy tour group.

Li RiverLi River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo

Li River Cruise: The Li River is the essence of Guilin’s landscape, and is included in almost all the Guilin classic tour itineraries. Verdant karst mountains, clear water, amazing caves, and remarkable rocks are the four features of the river.

There are two main ways to Tour It: 

  • Take a Li River Cruise boat: 4- hour relaxing trip from Guilin to Yangshuo;
  • Take a motorized “bamboo” rafts with seats and a canopy: one  hour but a bit noisy;

We suggest our customers to take the cruise.

Yangshuo: A trip to Yangshuo will allow you to escape to the peaceful countryside.  The main attraction of Yangshuo is its beautiful countryside scenery. It is a heaven for outdoor activities lovers.

Best Things to Do

  • Take a Yulong River bamboo raft tour;
  • Go cycling in the countryside. Travelers who are not fond of cycling can enjoy the countryside too, as we provide other means of transport.
Longji Rice TerraceLongji rice terraces and ethnic women

The Longji Rice Terraces: Longji's terraced fields have both spectacular scenery and ethnic culture. The wooden houses clustered among the cultivated terraces make a beautiful mountainside picture.

Top Things to do:

  • Walking on the small paths between the terraced paddies. Don't worry if you are not fond of hill walking, we could take an electric van up to some of the best view spots.
  • Visit a local family and learn to make a local delicacy, bamboo rice.
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How Long to Stay for a Guilin Trip: 4–7 Days Recommended

Yulong River Bamboo RaftYulong river bamboo raft

We believe an enjoyable travel experience is not about hurrying from one place to another to cram in the sights. To travel at an relaxing pace, you will need at least 4 days to experience Guilin’s highlights.  Guilin tours of 2–3 days either miss key attractions or are hurried.

Our Guilin tours range from 1 days to 7 days. You can enjoy the karst scenery for a day  with our Li River cruise and Yangshuo day tour. Or you can have a more relaxing 7 days tour to enjoy the scenery and get deeper to the local countryside life. 

If your time is limited and you have to leave something out, we suggest saving the Longsheng rice terraces and ethnic villages for another time.

China Highlights Customers At LongjiChina Highlights customers talking with a local ethnic woman in Longji

A 4 days classic Guilin itinerary for inspiration:

Day 1: Guilin arrival
Day 2: A day tour to the Longji Rice Terraces
Day 3: The Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo
Day 4: Sightseeing in Yangshuo, and departure

See our full 4 days Guilin tour itinerary for more ideas.

Unlike other travel agencies, who only sell fixed Guilin tour itineraries, we create unique experiences. Our tours are typically private and tailor-made to your travel style. Let’s create your Guilin tour

If you meet the requirements of the visa-free policy, you may stay in Guilin for 3 days without a visa. See our suggestions for planning a 72-hour visa-free tour of Guilin.

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The Best Time to visit (Seasonal Touring Tips)

The Guilin can be visited all year around, but your experience will vary with the seasons.

Li RiverThe Misty Li River in April

Seasonal Scenery

The scenery varies according to the seasons: misty in spring with hills and river veiled like in a painting, sunny in summer with vibrant vistas of small villages with old buildings set among green karst hills, cool in autumn, and quiet in winter..

The best time to visit Guilin weather-wise (also the busy travel season) is from April to October when it is warm/hot and the scenery is charming.

Busy Times ( Tips to Avoid Crowds)

As Guilin is very popular with both foreign and Chinese travelers, you should expect to experience crowding at peak times.

  • Chinese Summer holiday (July and August)
  • Chinese Mid-Autumn festival (a few days in September/October)
  • National holiday (October 1–7)
Cycling In YangshuoCycling in Yangshuo  along a road few travelers know

It is difficult, or impossible, to avoid the crowds during these periods if you don’t have help from a local travel expert who knows the times/routes that have fewer people. Otherwise a frustrating experience, like having to wait for 3 hours for a Yulong river bamboo raft, is quite likely to happen.

The low travel season from November to March, however, is regarded as a good time to visit if you prefer a quieter experience.

How to Get to Guilin

Guilin is accessible by air and train. Travelling by air is more convenient and time-saving from popular destinations like Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.

Travel to Guilin by air: Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, about one-hour’s drive from the city center, operates flights to and from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Kunming, Chengdu, and Hong Kong.

Travel to Guilin by train: Guilin has three railway stations, serving overnight trains and high-speed trains to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Xi'an, Changsha, and other major cities.

Find the Best Hotel to Stay

Yangshuo Alila  Alila Yangshuo

Reviews and rankings on TripAdvisor sometimes may not help you choose the best hotel for you, as people with high expectations give hotels very low scores when they don’t meet their preconceptions.

Hotels in Guilin: Re-opened to the foreign travel market in the early ‘80s, Guilin has two international chains hotels: the Sheraton and Shangri-La. The former has a great location by the Li River; the latter is a new hotel offering great comfort.

There are several small boutique hotels in the city. If you are not sure which hotel is best for you, ask your travel advisor and tell him/her what you prefer. They will give their suggestions from their years of experience working for foreign travelers.

Hotels in Yangshuo boast a great location in the countryside with a scenic outlook on the Yulong River and limestone hills. Imagine enjoying a cup of coffee in the hotel garden by a clear river surrounded by karst hills, bamboo, and rice paddies.

Longji HotelChina Highlights customers dining in a hotel in Longji

In the mountainside hotels in Longsheng the facilities and service are of a lower standard than in the city of Guilin. For example, they only provide very simple Chinese breakfasts. (Though we have prepared Western breakfasts for our customers in Longsheng, when required.) However, you’ll be compensated with spectacular views of the terraced fields and rural culture of ethnic villages..

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Discover Guilin with a Local Expert

Li River GuilinGuilin's karst landscape

To plan a great trip to Guilin is difficult and time-consuming if you don’t know the area well. Many tourists find out too late they’re on a second-rate Li River cruise among large Chinese tourist groups.

We live here and our Guilin tour guides have explored every corner of the city and its surrounding rural areas. 

“Le Le, in Guilin, couldn’t have been more helpful. He anticipated our every move and gave many helpful tips.”
— Victor and Mary Ann Cognato, China Highlights customers

Just tell us your interests and requirements. One of our travel experts will give you insider’s recommendations and work for you to tailor-make your unique Guilin tour.

What's a Tour With us Like?

A family of four that moved from US to China just released a video about their time in Guilin with us in October, 2021. Contact us to send a free inquiry.

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