The boat trip on the Li River is maybe the best activity in Guilin. If the weather is good, the view is amazing. The boat ride takes all the morning. In the afternoon you will visit Yangshuo. Remember that if you decide not to take part in any of the optional activities, you'll have to stay in Yangshuo for 4 hours. However, this is not a big problem. In Yangshuo you can do some shopping or relax in some pub.
This tour started with an 8-20am pick up in a van, then a transfer to large coach and ended up at the wharf for a 9-30 boat departure. The boat we were on was good - looked like the newest on the river and there is quite a procession.The landscape is stunning. However, this was a trip (unlike other Viator tours) where there were lots of extras. If you want a seat on a higher deck, an extra 100RMB per person. Lunch on board was described to include "fresh catch" - but if you wanted to eat fish you had to pay extra and a lot extra. We bought a whole fish - not really enough for two and it cost 270 RMB - the most expensive fish we ate in China.
You arrive at Yangshuo at about 1-30pm and are given 1 hour and 20 minutes to wander around before meeting the guide, The bus does not return to Guilin until at least 4 hours later and you are asked to sign up for an optional extra tour to a local village and go bamboo rafting at 150 RMB per person. We felt we had to do this as probably 20-30 minutes in the shopping area in West Street in Yangshuo is more than enough, let alone 4 hours. This tour was OK but I would have preferred to have done the 2 hour rafting trip and skipped the time in Yangshou.
You do not leave to return to Guilin until about 5pm so you do not get back until at least 6-40 or 7pm. This is not what it says on Viator website and as we needed to be back by 6-30 we had to pay extra for a car and driver - another 200RMB.
All in all a very expensive day and not like all the other Viator tours we have done.
I would recommend this tour to those who wish to see the Li River landscape between Guilin and Yangshuo, and who want to see Yangshuo in a day.
* Hotel pick up/drop off service was fab
* Li River landscape is unique and picturesque
* Yangshuo was nice to see (markets and laneway bars/cafes a-plenty)
* Extra 2hr tour of Yaoshan Village was worth the 150¥ each (decide and pay cash during cruise) and also gave us extra time to look around Yangshuo markets.
* Fed and sat on a Water Buffalo, watched a Cormorant Fishing display, bamboo raft trip down the river - all great photo ops!
* Facilities and lunch were basic - boat was old and a bit grubby, nowhere to sit whist up on deck, and toilets were a mess within 30mins.
* The cruise is long and after a while a little repetitive, but that is simply the distance between departure and Yangshuo.
* Take a poncho - rain and no protection could ruin your day.
* Participate in the extra tour.
* Beware of sneaky bones and fat in the meat dishes for lunch...very Chinese :P
* Take some snacks with you!
* Our hotel pick-up time wasn't confirmed until 8:55pm the night before our tour when the tour guide rang our hotel room. I was starting to stress out a little, but it would seem this is common.
* Go to the toilet in the first 30mins of cruising - after this the uni-sex toilets (not squat) become a frightful mess.
* Haggle at the Yangshuo markets. If they start at 400¥, go to 80¥ and move slowly upwards. Don't pay more than 50% of their starting price!
* If the lunch on the boat left you hungry - there are HUNDREDS of food outlets (including cafes, bars, McDs and KFC on West Street in Yangshuo)
* Expect a long day. Left hotel in Guilin at 8:15am, and got back at 6:45pm.
The tour itself was pretty much as expected - awesome vistas even if the weather was overcast and misty. The food on board the boat wasn't great but ok. If there was any real negative point it was the communication (or lack of it) we received from the tour operator the evening before the trip. We arrived at our hotel in Guilin at 7pm expecting there to be a message informing us of the pick-up time the next day but no message had been left. At 9pm I started phoning the number we had been given but the line was constantly 'busy'. After trying to get through about 20 times I had to resort to leaving email messages with Viator to try and get some information. Finally, at 11pm, we were contacted by the hotel receptionist to talk to someone from the tour operator and they finally gave us the pick-up time. 11pm was way too late and created way too much stress for us when we were meant to be on holiday! They need to do better than that!
Wow! Guilin is amazing. You must do this tour in Guilin. We were on the boat for about 3 hours. When we first boarded it was raining and we were seated at tables downstairs. We were not too keen on this and ventured upstairs to find it had stopped raining. We stood on the upper deck for the whole three hours and did not once get tired of the magnificent views. From small bamboo rafts latching on to our boat to try and sell fruit to the beautiful mountain scenery, this was like floating in a dream. Yangshuo was full of little market type stalls all selling the same things, so we decided to do the optional tour. We are so glad we did. We went to a village and sat on a water buffalo, got to watch the cormorants dive for fish, hold the bamboo stick the cormorants were on and visit the Shangri La village. We would strongly recommend doing the optional tour which was RMB200 each. Don't know what we would have done waiting in Yangshuo for four hours. On the way back to our hotel our guide told us the Shangri La Hotel we were staying at was a bit far out for the large coach to drive to, so she got off the bus with us in the town and put us in a taxi to our hotel and the company paid for it. We thought this was incredible customer care.
Nice tour guide and driver, but lunch not proper arrange by the company due to cny festival.. Which we have to drive along Guilin town n search for it !!
The Li River Cruise is lovely and Yangshuo is so beautiful with breath-taking scenery. It is definately underrated and undeservedly placed in the shadow of the more famous Guilin. My big criticism was that this is a full day tour yet when we arrived in Yangshuo, we were only given 1 hour to browse round or we had to pay extra for activities to fill the afternoon. This is extremeley cheeky bearing in mind the amount of money we had already spent on the trip. Because we chose not to pay extra, our tour was cut short and we were taken home earlier. I thought that was terrible.
This was the first day of 3 in Guilin, and it definitely set the tone. We loved the cruise, our tour guide who was both hilarious and knowledgeable, and the visit to Yangshuo. Even the bus rides had great views. You will stand in awe the entire day. This day alone made us fall in love with Guilin. Seeing the exact view that's on the 20 Yuan was surreal. I couldn't say enough about this trip. If you get a chance to take a country tour while in Yangshuo, I recommend it.
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