This mini travel guide provides you with a list of must see places and wonderful attractions in Guilin, China. We’ve put together a list of the best things to do, when to visit and where to stay in Guilin to make sure you have an awesome time.
“桂林山水甲天下” is a famous Chinese sentence that means “east or west, Guilin’s scenery is the best”. The city is located in southern China and it’s famous for its limestone hills and other beautiful natural scenery.
- Best Things to Do in Guilin
- Where to stay in Guilin
- When to visit Guilin
- How to get to Guilin
1. Cruise Guilin’s Two Rivers & Four Lakes
The Guilin Two Rivers & Four Lakes cruise lasts around 80 minutes and passes more than 40 spots. You will be able to see carvings under bridges, close ups of some beautiful pagodas and even a traditional music and dancing show performed just for your boat.
We recommend booking the departure time for 20 minutes before sunset, so that you can witness the daylight fade away and the lights from the buildings and bridges shine with glorious colours.
Hours: 9 am – 11:30 pm
Address: Zhongshan North Road, Xiufeng District, Guilin 541001, China
2. Visit Seven Star Park
Seven Star Park is the largest park in Guilin, and it encompasses 7 hills. Hence the name. There are peaks and valleys, clear water and countless plants. You’ll also find historical relics and plenty of animals, including some cheeky monkeys.
Hours (Mar – Nov): 6 am – 7:30 pm
Hours (Dec – Feb): 6:30 am – 7 pm
Address: 1 Qixing Rd, Qixing Qu, Guilin Shi, Guangxi Zhuangzuzizhiqu, China, 541213
3. Have a walk at Riyue Shuangta Cultural Park
Riyue Shuangta Cultural Park (Ludi Yan) is a park that contains culture, art, religion, architecture, technology and natural landscape. It is located in the centre of Guilin. A highlight of the park is the two towers; The Sun and The Moon Towers.
The Sun Tower is the worlds tallest copper building and the worlds tallest elevator tower on water. You can take that elevator to the top and enjoy the views.
Hours: 7:50 am – 10 pm
Address: No.10 Wenming Road, Xiufeng District, Guilin 541001, China
4. Visit Elephant Trunk Hill
Elephant Trunk Hill (Xiangbishan) is one of the most iconic spots in Guilin. It has been famous since Tang and Song Dynasty, which is more than 1000 years and is rated at AAAAA (5A), meaning that it is one of the most important and best maintained scenic areas in China.
The famous hill resembles a huge elephant standing in the river and drinking the water from its trunk, which is where Elephant Trunk Hill gets its name.
Best time to visit: April – October
Hours: 6 am – 6:30 pm
Address: Xiangbishan Park, Xiangshan District, Guilin 541004, China
5. Visit Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) is located just outside of Guilin. There are lots of exquisite stone pillars in the cave. Combine that with colourful lighting and it’s like being in a magical world.
Hours (Apr – Nov): 7:30 am – 6 pm
Hours (Dec – Mar): 8 am – 5:30 pm
Address: 0773-2695075, Guilin 541001, China
6. Eat freshly made Guilin Rice Noodles
Guilin Rice Noodle is the most famous traditional food in Guilin. It’s also the most delicious, and super fresh. If you wake up early, you’ll easily spot locals making the noodles by grinding glutinous rice.
Almost all the restaurants serve Guilin Rice Noodles so it’s very easy to find. But remember, the noodles are made fresh every morning and they only make enough for one day, so don’t eat dinner too late or they might have run out.
7. Take the Li River Cruise to Yangshuo
The extended quote about Guilin’s scenery is the following; “East or west, Guilin’s scenery is the best in the world and Yangshuo’s scenery is the best in Guilin”.
To get to Yangshuo, you can spend 4 hours cruising down and enjoying the stunning sights along Li River, either inside or with 360 views on the open roof deck. There are too many famous photo spots to mention, but the most famous is the one on the ¥20 note.
The boats depart 9 – 10 am and there are plenty of things to do in Yangshuo once you finish the cruise.
8. Longji Rice Terraces
Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, otherwise known as Longji or Longsheng Rice Terraces, cover several villages around 100km from Guilin. They are considered the world’s most incredible rices terraces and have a rich history dating back 650 years to when they were built. The gorgeous landscape changes colour throughout the year and is best viewed May – October.
- Late May: the paddies are waterlogged and sparkle in the sunlight.
- June – September: the terraces are carpeted in a lush green.
- Late September – October: the rice is golden and ready for harvest.
- November – April: brown and barren, with a little bit of green grass.
We recommend booking a tour if you want to visit the rice terraces.
Where to stay in Guilin
Guilin city centre is quite small with most of the lakes, rivers and views concentrated to a few square kilometres. Riyue Shuangta Cultural Park is a good centre point to this area.
- Dorms: This Old Place International Youth Hostel
- Budget: Memory Inn Guilin Central
- Premium: Aroma Tea House Former Jing Guan Ming Lou Museum Hotel
When to visit Guilin
Weather-wise, it is suitable to travel to Guilin all year round, but Autumn is the best season and winter is the worse.
- Spring (March to May) is warm and humid.
- Summer (June to August) is hot and humid.
- Autumn (October to November) is a mild temperature, sunny & dry.
- Winter (December to February) is cold & wet.
It it best to avoid the main Chinese holidays if you can. During these times flight tickets cost more, hotel rooms are in short supply and there will be a sea of people at almost every attraction.
- Chinese New Year / Spring Festival (varies: 7 consecutive days in January or February)
- Labour Day Holiday (May 1st – 3rd)
- National Day Golden Week (October 1st – 7th)
The best times to visit the Longji Rice Terraces is May – October.
How to get to Guilin
Guilin has one airport that serves domestic and a limited number of international flights.
- Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL)
There are 3 train stations in Guilin that serve different cites in China, as well as Hong Kong.
- Guilin Railway Station
- Guilin North Railway Station
- Guilin West Railway Station
- Buy tickets online or from a counter as there are lots of touts outside of tourist attractions that charge more or sell unofficial tours.
- Depart the Two Rivers & Four Lakes cruise 20 minutes before sunset to enjoy day and night views.
Thanks for reading
We hope you found this guide useful and now know what to do in Guilin. Enjoy your holiday, vacation, mini break or gap year! And please share or save this list of things to do in Guilin, China if you found it helpful.