Thanks to the mesmerizingly beautiful karst mountains that surround them, Guilin and Yangshuo have long inspired Chinese artists and travelers alike. Apart from their picture-perfect scenery, Guilin and Yangshuo are also home to a variety of unique ethnic minorities, including the Zhuang, Yao, and Miao, offering travelers the opportunity to experience the colorful ethnic culture of this area while enjoying its amazing landscapes.
Within the downtown area of Guilin, Reed Flute Cave, a large natural cave that features stalactites, stalagmites, and rock formations in diverse and unique shapes, is a popular site and has attracted many celebrity visitors from around the world. Elephant Trunk Hill, an iconic landmark of Guilin and a popular backdrop for photos, also deserves a quick visit.
About a 2-hour drive north of Guilin, the Longji Rice Terraces are famous for their intricate layout, exquisite scenery, and unique Zhuang and Yao minority culture. The Longji Rice Terraces and surrounding minority villages can be visited via a day trip from Guilin or Yangshuo. However, if you have more time, you can stay a night in one of the villages; this will allow you more time to hike among the rice terraces at your leisure and soak up the peaceful morning and evening atmosphere of the minority villages.
While there are a couple of small hills in downtown Guilin, like Fubo Hill or Diecai Hill, that you can climb for wonderful views of the karst peaks that dot and surround the city, the best way to appreciate these truly stunning peaks is by cruising down the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. The river winds through breathtakingly scenic areas dense with karst peaks, making a cruise along this river our number-one favorite activity for visitors to Guilin.
Just down the Li River, Yangshuo, Guilin's smaller and more relaxed cousin, is renowned for its beautiful countryside that comprises mountainous landscapes, idyllic villages, and winding rivers. The Ten-Mile Gallery Scenic Area is no doubt the best place to appreciate the beautiful countryside that Yangshuo is famous for.
When visiting the Ten-Mile Gallery Scenic Area, floating down the Yulong River aboard a traditional bamboo raft is the perfect way to relax and take in the otherworldly views of the surrounding karst peaks. There are also pathways along the banks of the Yulong River that are ideal for biking and strolling, as well as enjoying the amazing scenery of this area.
On the outskirts of Yangshuo, you will find Moon Hill and Xianggong Mountain. Hiking to the top of these hills will reward you with wonderful panoramic views of Yangshuo's famed karst peaks and countryside.
At the center of Yangshuo, West Street (Xi Jie) is an old and popular pedestrian street with many shops, bars, restaurants, and guesthouses. The street is especially animated at night and is a fun place to stroll, try local cuisine, buy souvenirs, and people watch.
Three or four days is usually enough to visit the top attractions that Guilin and Yangshuo have to offer. If you have more time or want to venture off the beaten path a bit, please check out more sights and activities here or simply ask us to customize an itinerary for you.
Guilin rice noodles (mifen) is the city's signature snack and famous throughout China. The snack features thick rice noodles in a fragrant broth, topped with braised meat and pickled vegetables. As the most popular snack and breakfast of Guilin, these rice noodles can be found almost everywhere in Guilin or Yangshuo.
If you are going to the Longji Rice Terraces, you will see local people roasting bamboo tubes with rice or chicken inside, a popular local delicacy among the ethnic minorities that we recommend trying.
Packed full of flavor from beer, chili, spring onion, and peppers, Yangshuo beer fish is the most popular local dish and a meal you simply can't miss while in Yangshuo.
Zhengyang Pedestrian Street offers the hungry a number of good dining options in Guilin, and West Street in Yangshuo boasts almost endless bars and restaurants, both Chinese and Western.
In the center of Guilin, the Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Area, home to the Sun and Moon Pagodas, is a quiet and peaceful place for an after-dinner walk, when the pagodas are beautifully illuminated. Near the park, Zhengyang pedestrian street is full of shops, restaurants, bars, etc., making this a good place to hang out and relax in the evening.
The Impression Liu Sanjie night show, directed by famous director Zhang Yimou, is an evening activity you shouldn't miss while in Yangshuo. West Street is also a lively and fun place to visit at night, when it is lit up with lights and tourists and locals gather to eat, shop, drink, dance, and more.
Springtime (around March/April) is when Guilin and Yangshuo’s karst peaks are at their greenest and most picturesque and the temperature is moderate. Also during this season, the peaks lining the Li River are more likely to be shrouded in a thin wisp of fog or clouds, a scene that is stunningly beautiful and often depicted in traditional Chinese paintings. From May to August, Guilin and Yangshuo are hot and humid, with regular heavy rain, which may affect your trip. From September to November, the temperature is comfortable and the weather is no longer rainy, making this another good period for traveling in Guilin and Yangshuo. In addition, starting from September, a local plant called osmanthus is in bloom, adding a pleasant scent to the air. Although it rarely snows in Guilin and Yangshuo, the winter months (December to February) are quite cold, especially on rainy days.
Guilin Liangjiang International Airport is situated 30 km west of downtown Guilin. The airport has flights to/from several international destinations (such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Seoul), as well as regular direct flights to/from Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Within the jurisdiction of Guilin city, Yangshuo is around a 70-minute drive from Guilin Liangjiang International Airport or a 1.5-hour drive from downtown Guilin.
There are high-speed trains to Guilin and Yangshuo. However, it takes more than nine hours to travel to/from Shanghai and more than ten hours to/from Beijing or Xi'an by high-speed train. High-speed train would be an ideal choice if you are traveling between Guilin/Yangshuo and Guzhou, which takes only 3 hours, or Guilin/Yangshuo and Kunming, which takes around 5 hours. The scenery along the railway to Kunming is quite beautiful at certain places.