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A landscape view of Li River and Karst mountains in Guilin

Things to do in  Guilin

Surreal scenery and a slower pace

With two rivers, four lakes, limestone karst hills, caves in fantastical shapes, and lush green spaces, Guilin is one of the most picturesque cities in China, long renowned for its scenic natural beauty. The vistas and natural attractions are the main highlights, and they're best experienced on a boat cruise down the winding Li River through the surrounding countryside to Yangshuo. As Guangxi’s cultural hub, Guilin also offers history and culinary experiences.

Top 11 attractions in Guilin

Longji Rice Terraces

For the farmers who reside in Southern China’s Longji region, rice terraces are simply a way of life. Yet for the thousands of annual visitors who make the 2-hour journey from the city of Guilin, the Longji Rice Terraces—nicknamed the Dragon’s Backbone—are an iconic symbol of Chinese agriculture and one of the most photographed sites in the country.More

Li River (Li Jiang)

Along the banks of the Li River (Li Jiang) as it winds south from Guilin, dramatic karst peaks, dense vegetation, and the winding river itself create magical vistas that loom large in the Chinese imagination, having inspired art and verse for centuries. From Guilin to Yangshuo, there’s never a dull stretch along China’s most beautiful river.More

Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan)

Located 3 miles (5 kilometers) from downtown Guilin, this famous limestone cave is one of the top attractions in Guilin. It’s named for the reeds that grow outside the cave, which are used to make flutes. The cave stretches for 787 feet (240 meters), and is colorfully lit inside to highlight the interesting collection of stone pillars, stalactites, and stalagmites found within.More

Xingping Town (Xingping Village)

Formerly a sleepy fishing village along the Li River, Xingping town (or Xingping village) is now a popular visitor destination for its rural landscape and well-preserved ancient architecture. Hiking and biking are popular ways to soak in the scenery, and Xingping is also the starting point of many river cruises as it’s on an especially beautiful stretch of the Li River.More

Elephant Trunk Hill (Xiangbishan)

A landmark in Guilin since the Tang Dynasty, and considered by many to be a symbol of the city, Elephant Trunk (Xiangbishan) Hill got its name because it’s said to resemble a giant elephant drinking water from the Li River. Towering more than 180 feet (55 meters) above the water, it’s one of the top attractions in Guilin.More

Seven Star Park (Qixing Gongyuan)

The extensive Seven Star Park (Qixing Gongyuan)—arranged around the seven peaks from which it derives its name—ranks among Guilin’s oldest attractions. A pavilion sits atop Putuo Mountain in the center of the park, while Seven Star Cliff contains several illuminated caves. A fish pond and the Guilin City Zoo are popular with kids.More

Fubo Hill (Fubo Shan)

Situated in northeast Guilin, beautiful Fubo Hill (Fubo Shan) sits half in and half out of the Li River, causing the passing water to swirl and lending it its other name: “Wave-Subduing Hill.” With a height of 695 feet (213 meters), Fubo Hill offers spectacular views of the city and river views from its summit.More

Daxu Old Town

Take a step back in time at Daxu Old Town, one of the four ancient towns of Guangxi Province. Located on the eastern banks of the Li River, southeast of Guilin, the town is known for its cultural sights, historic architecture, and traditional artisan shops.More

Solitary Beauty Peak (Duxiu Feng)

Rising 217 feet (66 meters), Solitary Beauty Peak (Duxiu Feng) has been a famous scenic spot in Guilin since ancient times. Also known as the “Pillar of the Southern Sky,” it’s one of the area’s highest peaks. Climb to the pavilion at the peak to take in sweeping views over the city.More

Jingjiang Wangcheng City (Jingjiang Princes' City)

Jingjiang Wangcheng City, also called the Jingjiang Mansion, was the seat of the Jingjiang Family, who reigned in this part of China between 1368 and 1644. The mansion was designed to function as the inner city of Guilin, with extensive halls, pavilions, and more than 40 secondary buildings surrounding the main mansion.More

Yao Mountain (Yao Shan)

The highest of the bizarre rock formations that jut up from either side of the Li River is Yao Mountain at nearly 3,000 feet (900 meters. Views from the peak extend out over the hills, rice fields, and rural villages outside of Guilin. The peak was named after the Yaoshan Emperor Temple, which can be found about halfway up the mountain.More
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Top activities in Guilin

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All about Guilin

When to visit

Spring (Apr. and May) and fall (Sep. and Oct.) offer the best weather for sightseeing and for outdoor activities. It can be cold and rainy from Dec. to Feb. Avoid Guilin on major public holidays in China, including Chinese New Year and the golden week holidays in May and October, as the region will be incredibly crowded.

Getting around

You can navigate the city of Guilin by taking buses, though taxis will be the easiest option for visitors. Buses also connect Guilin to neighboring towns and cities. For longer distance travel, it’s best to take the train (there are three railroad stations) or fly (there’s one major airport). Traveling by boat is an ideal way to get from Guilin to Yangshuo and other area highlights.

Traveler tips

Under the right conditions, rafting on the Li River provides an alternative to regular boat cruises. With favorable weather, visitors can board a motorized raft in Yangdi, around an hour away from Guilin, and enjoy a two-hour cruise to Xingping, passing by the most famous and scenic section of the Li River, featured on the 20 yuan note. The rafts seat four people, and you can have a private tour by buying out the other seats.

People Also Ask

What is Guilin known for?

The cultural center of Guangxi, Guilin is known for its scenic natural beauty, including limestone karst hills and caves, two winding rivers, and four lakes within the city. Outside the city, the region is known for a lush countryside, rural lifestyle, ancient towns, and the tourist hot spot of Yangshuo.

Is it better to stay in Guilin or Yangshuo?

Guilin is bigger and offers more amenities and better transportation. Many prefer to stay in Guilin and take a Yangshuo day trip. Guilin is closer to Longji Rice Terraces than Yangshuo. However, if exploring the Yangshuo countryside via hiking, biking, or rock climbing is your goal, then stay in Yangshuo.

How many days do you need for Guilin?

Three to four days is ideal. You'll spend a day visiting Guilin city highlights, two days to cruise to Yangshuo and explore the countryside or visit an ancient town, and another day at Longji Rice Terraces. Add more days to hike, bike, or rock climb in Yangshuo.

How should I spend a day in Guilin?

Start early at a Guilin city highlight like Reed Flute Cave. Then cruise down the Li River to Yangshuo, enjoying views of the karst landscape. In Yangshuo, explore West Street or hike, bike, or rock climb in the countryside. Enjoy dinner in Yangshuo and a performance of Impression Sanjie Liu.

What is the top attraction in Guilin?

The top attraction is Elephant Trunk Hill. Located in the heart of Guilin and considered the city's symbol, the limestone outcropping resembles the trunk of an elephant drinking from the river. The top cave is Reed Flute Cave. The top experience is a cruise down the Li River.

What should I not miss in Guilin?

A river cruise down the Li River to Yangshuo is one of the best ways to appreciate the scenery of the region, and it allows you to experience both Guilin and Yangshuo. Along the way, take in bucolic scenes of rice paddies, farmers, water buffaloes, cormorant fishermen, and ancient villages.


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