China is a vast, beautiful and diverse country. Located in Southern China is Guilin, known for its landscape of limestone karst hills that look like from the pages of a fairy tale book. Guilin’s scenery is awe-inspiring that once you set foot in its lands, you will feel you have traveled to a completely different world. Whether this is your first trip to China or you’ve been here a few times before, a 3-day adventure in Guilin opens up tons of new and interesting things to do. The sequence of activities and attractions below are just a guide and you can definitely change it to suit your interests.
Things to know before traveling to Guilin, China:
Language – Standard Chinese and Mandarin Chinese are the official languages of China. Learning the language is not necessary, especially in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but speaking at least some Chinese phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by locals. In Guilin, people speak the the Guilin local dialect. Although they have their own distinct language, most people in Guilin can speak Standard Chinese and Mandarin Chinese.
Currency exchange – Chinese Yuan (also known as Renminbi) is the official currency of China. Exchanging money is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Asia. You can exchange currency at the airport, hotels, malls, local banks, and money changers throughout Guilin. ATMs are plentiful and most of them accepting international credit, and debit cards, so it’s easy to withdraw your money in CNY. Credits cards are commonly accepted in most mid-range to high-end restaurants and hotels.
Tourist visa – Visitors who have a layover in some major cities in China are eligible to get a free 72-Hour Transit Visa. Nationalities from Schengen countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland), the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Australia and New Zealand are qualified to take advantage of 72-Hour Visa Free Transit Policy.
Getting there – Guilin is located in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Its geographical location is great because of its proximity to Hong Kong and Hanoi, Vietnam. Traveling by air is possible via the Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, which is connected with most major cities in China. The Guilin Airport also caters to international flights from Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. By train, you can travel to Guilin Train Station or Guilin North Railway Station.
Where to stay – There are many types of holiday accommodation in China, whether you’re looking for luxury hotels to cheaper accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfast. In Guilin, most hotels/hostels options are located in West Downtown Area and East Commercial Area. The most frequent question from first time travelers is, “What’s the best area to stay in when visiting Guilin?” Without a doubt, the best area to stay in is the West Downtown Area (city center) to get easy access to most attractions and to get more hotel options.
Hotels to consider:
Detailed itinerary: Discover Guilin, China in 3 Days
Day 0: Arrival in Guilin
Assuming you have taken an afternoon or evening flight to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport from major cities in China, then you won’t be able to explore yet. Make your way to your chosen accommodation in West Downtown Area (city center), then get a good night sleep so you have energy for a whole day of adventure the next day.
Day 1: Guilin Karst Caves and Hills
Your adventure in Guilin starts today. Wake up to a delicious breakfast in your private room. You may also try local Chinese restaurants that serve local rice noodles. After breakfast, you may proceed with your tour of downtown Guilin. Explore its limestone cave formations such as the Reed Flute Cave and Seven Star Park. For an impressive view of city and beyond, you may go to Fubo Hill and Elephant Trunk Hill.
In the evening, do not miss to join the Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise, one of the top-rated activities in Guilin. This night cruise allows you to experience the natural beauty of Li River, Taohua River and the Four Lakes. Aside from the awe-inspiring landscape you will see on board, you will be able to witness performances located on the riverbank.
Day 2: Li River Cruise to Yangshuo
On day 2, after a filling breakfast, join the Li River Cruise to Yangshuo, one of the highlights of any Guilin tour. Aboard a 4-star or 3-star riverboat, you’ll cruise for 4 to 5 hours past stunning karst hills, rice paddies and bamboo groves. Enjoy Chinese buffet lunch and some free refreshments as you sail the Li River to Yangshuo. Upon your arrival in Yangshuo, you can rent a bike, electric scooter or electric ‘golf cart’ to see Yangshuo’s countryside.
In case you decide to explore Yangshuo for a couple of days, you can read out 3-day guide for Yangshuo County.
Day 3: Longji Rice Terraces and Mountain Village
Your final day in the city can be spent on last-minute shopping and seeing those attractions that you haven’t yet had time for. You may also start early and join a Longji Rice Terraces and Mountain Village tour. This is a great opportunity to enhance your cultural experience in Guilin and to learn about the ancient Chinese minorities such as the Yao and Zhuang. You will be able to visit the Huangluo Yao Village, home to the Yao tribe, and the Ping’an Village, home to the Zhuang tribe. In the afternoon, your group will trek on the Longji Rice Terrace, where you will be introduced to the farming techniques of the minority people. As the tour concludes, you will be transferred back to your accommodation or to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport for your domestic or international flight.
Have you been to Guilin or anywhere else in China? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Landscape of Guilin, Li River and the karst mountains (Michail_Vorobyev / Shutterstock.com)